Liverpool FC finally returned to Premier League action on Sunday evening after a three-month break, but had to settle for a 0-0 draw at Goodison Park following a solid defensive display from Merseyside rivals Everton.
The Reds bossed possession and controlled the tempo of the game for the majority of the match but could count themselves lucky to leave with a point as a late Everton surge required both Alisson’s intervention and that of the post to keep the score level.
Jürgen Klopp’s first lineup back since lockdown measures were implemented saw Alisson start in goal with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joël Matip, Virgil van Dijk and James Milner lining up in front of him. Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Naby Keïta started in midfield, with a front three of Takumi Minamino, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino.
Mohamed Salah only started on the bench due to a knock, while Andy Robertson wasn’t in the matchday squad at all with his own fitness worry.
A minute’s silence followed by the taking of the knee by all in attendance kicked off proceedings in the final Merseyside derby of the season, in front of an eerily empty stadium.
Despite the lack of fans in attendance, the match started in typical derby fashion, with the opening minutes proving to be scrappy and full of challenges as both sides looked to impose their dominance on proceedings.
The game remained wide open by the time of the first mandatory water break, with the Reds boasting a slight possession advantage but were yet to test the opposing goalkeeper.
Liverpool came closest to opening the scoring on the half-hour mark when an Alexander-Arnold free-kick found an unmarked Matip in the penalty area. The Cameroonian climbed well and made solid contact with the ball but his effort bounced wide.
The close attempt seemed to wake up the Reds who almost immediately found themselves bearing down on Jordan Pickford’s goal yet again, this time with Firmino shooting wide of the mark. Looking back at the attempt the Brazilian might have slipped the ball through to Keïta, who was unmarked to his left and darting in behind the Everton back line.
Just as Liverpool were beginning to get a foothold in the game they were dealt a further injury blow, with stand-in left-back Milner going down and subsequently being forced off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
Klopp’s men continued to push and press Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton side, but the home team’s defence held strong and managed to make it to half-time with the scores level at 0-0.
The start of the second period saw Liverpool continue where they left off in the first, dominating the ball and looking to break down the Everton defensive wall.
Despite the dominance of possession and the majority of the game being played in Everton’s half, Klopp’s men still struggled to find the breakthrough deep into the second half.
In fact, as was the case in the first half with Milner, the injury woes continued to get worse for the Reds, with Matip being forced to limp off following a collision with Richarlison.
Having defended well against the Reds for 80 minutes, Everton finally put together a dangerous counter-attack following a midfield mistake from both Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum.
Richarlison was set away wide down the Liverpool flank with the Brazilian crossing it low towards Calvert-Lewin. The English striker flicked it towards Alisson who pulled off a brilliant save palming the ball wide. Tom Davies then latched onto the loose ball only to see his goalbound effort skim off the post and out to safety. Lucky escape for Liverpool.
The final ten minutes of the game reverted to a scrappy affair with neither team seemingly able to string any passes together.
The draw sees Liverpool still require two more wins to lift the Premier League trophy. Their next opportunity to pick up three points comes on Wednesday when old foes Crystal Palace will travel to Anfield.
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