Liverpool held Everton to a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park as Brendan Rodgers maintained his unbeaten record in Merseyside derbies and avoided yet more pressure descending upon him. After a poor start to the season, Rodgers’ seventh experience of the most-played fixture in English football was undeniably his most important. He will have been mightily relieved then when Danny Ings headed Liverpool into the lead in the 41st minute. Yet the joy was short-lived, with Romelu Lukaku capitalizing on an all-too familiar Liverpool defensive mishap to confidently strike home an equalizer just five minutes later.
In a largely scrappy affair that occasionally came to life but where neither side managed to play consistently with any flow, it would be hard for either Rodgers or counterpart Roberto Martinez to have any complaints about the final result. And Rodgers ultimately knew that, while a win would have been welcome indeed, this was a match he could ill afford to lose.
As it is, the pressure will only be temporarily halted. It is now just one win from their last nine matches in all competitions, and after eight games played in the Premier League this season, Liverpool have just three wins and sit firmly in midtable. They also remain a point behind their neighbors from across Stanley Park, who now move up into sixth.
It was Everton who were the side pushing for the win late on and showing a keenness to end a run of nine matches without a win in the fixture. Yet, having been hampered by the loss of three of his regular back four on Sunday -- John Stones, Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman -- this was a satisfactory result for Martinez’s men. And, although Liverpool were on top in the early stages, it was Everton that had the better of the chances in the contest. Indeed, it took two superb saves from Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet in the first half to prevent Everton taking what may have been a crucial lad against fragile opposition.
After having come from 2-0 down to beat West Brom 3-2 last Monday, Everton again started slowly in what was the 225th Merseyside derby. Ings and Martin Skrtel both threatened Tim Howard’s goal, while the one experienced member of Everton’s back four, Phil Jagielka, had to be alert to prevent Daniel Sturridge from building on his two goals against Aston Villa last week.
But when Everton did get going, they did not find chances hard to come by. From Ross Barkley’s free-kick, Steven Naismith had a free header from six yards out, but saw Mignolet make a stunning one-handed save to deny the Scotsman. And just moments later the Belgian excelled again to deny James McCarthy.
It was Everton’s defending that broke down, however, to allow the opening goal. Ings grabbed his second goal since arriving from Burnley in the summer, having been allowed to get free in the center of the six-yard box from James Milner’s corner.
The lead, though, would be preciously short-lived. The kind of defensive mishaps that have plagued Liverpool throughout Rodgers’ reign reared their head once more as makeshift center-back Emre Can slashed a clearance straight at fellow defender Skrtel. Kindly for Everton, the ball fell into the path of the in-form Lukaku, who made no mistake with a crisp volley into the corner of the net to get his third goal in a week.
Chances were few and far between in the second half. Both Coutinho and Lukaku shot straight at the goalkeepers, but, while Liverpool were on the back foot at the end, this was a point neither manager was prepared to risk too much giving up.