Winning Derby games is great. Winning Derby games with a goal four minutes into injury time is even greater and that’s exactly what Liverpool did thanks to Sadio Mane.
As you can imagine, watching the match is stressful enough to take real notice of what’s happening so I’ve gone back and watched it all again, which was a pleasure knowing the final result.
Here are my takeaways:
Liverpool started really poorly. Everton hurried and hustled and Liverpool’s use of the ball was terrible. Too many hurried passes, bad touches and poor decisions. Jurgen Klopp likes his team to be at it from the off, so that won’t have impressed him. Having said that, they saw out that poor spell without really giving Everton a sniff of goal.
Liverpool defended crosses into the box really well. They were first to pretty much every first and second ball around the box and were happy to launch the ball clear.
Everton were happy to let Dejan Lovren have the ball, even in their half. They didn’t press him at all. The Croatian, unlike Joel Matip, didn’t seem comfortable in that situation at all.
Roberto Firmino had once of his poorest halves of his Liverpool career in the first period. Jurgen Klopp made a switch in the second and got him in a central role and he looked much more comfortable. Despite being slightly off the boil, he could have had a hat-trick and nearly got an assist for Mane on the passage of play when Everton‘s goalkeeper got hurt.
Lovren‘s decision to take a yellow card on the halfway line was an excellent one. Romelu Lukaku had the legs on him and would have been running through on Simon Mignolet’s goal. It was an excellent foul.
Ragnar Klavan had a difficult opening 10-15 minutes with Lukaku but he soon got to grips with him and from that point on, he seemed to win every challenge when the ball went up to the Belgian. He was composed on the ball too. A really good performance.
Everton got unlucky with injuries but I thought Ronald Koeman’s substitutes were poor and helped Liverpool. Obviously he had to bring Joel Robles on but his decision to bring on Gareth Barry for the injured James McCarthy was odd. Barry had no legs and didn’t get near Liverpool. Tom Cleverley isn’t exactly great but he’d have been a better option. Also, Enner Valencia was giving James Milner a battle and was keeping him pinned back a bit. As soon as Dominic Calvert-Lewin came on, Milner had the beating of him and was able to attack much more often.
Klopp deserves a lot of credit for bringing on the fresh legs of Daniel Sturridge and Emre Can with Everton clearly struggling. The manager was clever to take into account something which I didn’t at the time. The pair probably only had about 15 minutes in them after hardly training and he realised that there was going to be a lot of injury time so held off bringing them on until the 82nd minute.
Liverpool’s wide forwards were really tucked in a lot for the goal. That allowed Gini Wijnaldum to spray the ball out to an unmarked Nathaniel Clyne. From there, Liverpool were simply more alive and looked fitter than Everton. Sturridge shows excellent strength and is determined to get his shot away and as he shoots, both Sadio Mane and Firmino are in the box and both react very quickly. If the ball bounces the other way off the post, it’s Firmino who gets the tap in.