A first-half blitz from Liverpool saw them maintain their excellent run of results in Merseyside Derbies, beating Everton 5-2 in the latest instalment of the Premier League rivalry at Anfield.
Divock Origi was the star of the show as the Reds played their first game ever to be broadcast live on Amazon Prime Video, while goals from Sadio Mané, Xherdan Shaqiri and Georginio Wijnaldum made sure of the win.
Michael Keane and Richarlison also got on the scoresheet for the visitors, with six of the seven goals coming in a breathless first half.
This is a bitter rivalry, no question, but the sentiment surrounding the 96 who lost their lives at Hillsborough is one thing that unites these two sets of supporters. That was on show again here, with a raucous ovation before the match for the families affected and a banner held by both sets of supporters housed in the Anfield Road End.
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Everton were unchanged from the late defeat at Leicester City on Sunday, but Liverpool made five changes. Adrián’s inclusion was enforced while Alisson serves a ban, but few expected James Milner, Adam Lallana, Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri to come in. It was the latter’s first Premier League start since January.
The hosts set out their stall right from the off, with Andy Robertson — making his 100th appearance for the club — swinging a ball across from the left which was met by Sadio Mané, but the forward could only head over.
They may have missed that chance, but they wouldn’t have to wait for long before the first goal. Last year’s late Derby hero Origi was effective much earlier this time, as he rounded Jordan Pickford to tap into an empty net on six minutes. Mané’s through-ball was delicious, taking out the entire Everton defence in one sweeping stroke of the ball.
A little over ten minutes later, the second had hit the back of the net and the Reds were in dreamland. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s superb cross-field switch resulted in another sublime pass from Mané, which found Shaqiri who effortlessly swept the ball home from seven yards. If anyone needed a goal after his injury woes, it was the Switzerland international.
But on 20 minutes there was a reality check. Michael Keane was too strong for Dejan Lovren after a low cross into the box and the defender poked beyond Adrián to halve the deficit and become the first Evertonian to score at Anfield since Wayne Rooney in 2017.
Things got scrappier in the minutes that followed as the visitors’ tails were up and the nerves took over the hosts. Plenty of meaty challenges from both sides showed the passion and intensity, with Alexander-Arnold perhaps lucky not to see red for a particularly high one on Lucas Digne.
But the two-goal lead was restored on the half-hour mark when Dejan Lovren’s gorgeous ball over the top was taken down superbly by Origi, before the Belgian flicked the ball over Pickford to punish the Toffees once again.
The openness in the Everton back five was exploited time and again by the rampant Reds, and Marco Silva reacted with 35 minutes on the clock. Djibril Sidibé was hooked after a poor showing as Bernard came on, with Mason Holgate moving to the right of defence in a flat back four.
It made little immediate difference as the home side raced clear on the counter-attack. Alexander-Arnold was released on the left wing after a corner for the Blues — he weighted the ball perfectly into Mané who side-footed the ball beyond Pickford’s despairing dive. Jürgen Klopp’s players were putting on a real show.
But Silva’s side made sure they were still in with a shout as Richarlison used his shoulder to direct a cross beyond Adrián at the Kop End. Everton’s defence was shambolic in the first half, but the home side’s rearguard wasn’t exactly water-tight either.
Alas, Liverpool went into the break with a two-goal lead and plenty of reason to be happy — especially considering, even if it all went wrong, they still had a fresh Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino on the bench to make a difference, among others.
The second-half was a more low-key affair, but after a breathless first period that was always likely. Goalscorer Richarlison had the only effort of note in the first 15 minutes with a header straight at the ‘keeper right on the hour mark.
Two-goal hero Origi received a standing ovation for his efforts as he was replaced on 72 minutes. No hat-trick for the Belgian, but his replacement was Ballon d’Or-nominated Firmino — not a bad option off the bench.
Mané squandered a huge chance to make it five in the last ten minutes. Another gorgeous ball over the top, this time from substitute Jordan Henderson, found the Senegalese one-on-one with Pickford, but he passed the ball wide when it was arguably easier to score.
Wijnaldum crowned the victory with a flourish after Firmino’s trickery saw him set up the Dutchman, who finished coolly into the far bottom corner with aplomb.
Klopp will be delighted with a goal glut and three points, even more so considering he was able to rest some key players heading into a busy schedule. Attentions now turn to the long trip down to Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon.