Three talking points as Wayne Rooney earned Everton a point against Liverpool
Everton forward Wayne Rooney scored a dramatic equaliser to deny Liverpool victory in the Merseyside derby. The 32-year-old emphatically dispatched a 77th-minute penalty after Dejan Lovren had been penalised for a push on Dominic Calvert-Lewin. In truth, it was a soft spot-kick to concede and one that gave the Toffees a golden opportunity to claim a point they barely deserved.
It had been a backs-to-the-wall job in the first half as Liverpool monopolised the ball and they broke the deadlock shortly before half-time through Mohamed Salah’s delicious curling strike. But Everton defended well and were gifted a lifeline when Lovren inexplicably bundled over Calvert-Lewin, one which Rooney grabbed.
The Toffees stay 10th in the Premier League table, six places behind Liverpool. Here are three talking points from a hard-fought clash at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s selection gamble backfires
To say eyebrows were raised when Liverpool’s starting XI was announced would be an understatement. Jurgen Klopp made no fewer than six changes from the side that hammered Spartak Moscow in the Champions League. But the biggest talking-point was the exclusion of Brazilian duo Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino; while Dominic Solanke led the line ahead of a midfield that included Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jordan Henderson.
When Salah scored a typically wonderful goal to put the Reds in charge, it looked as though the manager’s changes would be vindicated. But Liverpool were unable to score a crucial second goal and that came back to haunt them when Rooney slammed home a penalty in the latter stages.
Coutinho was introduced immediately after the equaliser but did not have a significant impact as the spoils were shared. Despite Everton’s good start under Sam Allardyce, this was two points dropped for Liverpool and questions will be asked about Klopp’s line-up.
Classy Rooney at the heart of Everton’s creativity
Making his first appearance in a Merseyside derby since 2004, Rooney could not have dreamt of making a bigger impact. He played on the right side of a narrow midfield four, which was designed to frustrate and stifle Liverpool’s attacking talent. Allardyce’s tactics worked to a certain extent, even though the Reds did take the lead late on in the first period.
Having fulfilled a largely defensive role, Rooney was able to drive the Toffees forward as they chased a leveller, with raking cross-field balls switching defence to attack. It was once such aerial pass that resulted in the visitors’ goal. Although Calvert-Lewin went over easily, Lovren should have been streetwise enough not to give the young Everton striker the opportunity to go down.
Rooney has an excellent record from the spot and it was no surprise to see him convert past Simon Mignolet for his eighth top-flight goal of the season. His exuberant celebrations demonstrated just how much the goal meant to him, as Everton’s renaissance continued.
Salah continues his goalscoring run
Despite the surprise selections in Liverpool’s team, stopping the Premier League’s most in-form player would have been at the forefront of Allardyce’s game-plan. Everton’s defenders gave Salah very little room to express himself from the first whistle, but they were powerless to prevent him from opening the scoring.
It is not the first time this season that Liverpool supporters have seen the Egyptian bend the ball into the top corner, and it’s fair to assume it won’t be the last. Salah had freed himself from the attention of Idrissa Gueye inside the penalty area and his magic wand of a left foot did the rest.
It was his 13th Premier League goal of the campaign – and 19th in total – which restored him to to the top of the Golden Boot standings ahead of Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane. Unfortunately for the Reds, it wasn’t enough for them to capture all three points.
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