A game of two captains as Merseyside derby ends in a draw
Phil Jagielka; take a bow. A thunderbolt from the best part of 30-yards out in the dying seconds rescued a point at Anfield, as the Everton skipper pounced on a failed clearance, to score his first goal for the club since April 2013.
After a drab first half, where very few clear cut chances were created, Liverpool seemed to start the second period the brightest. Raheem Sterling who has been a threat all season terrorised the Toffees defence time and again, with Brendan Rodgers clearly putting emphasis on the attacker to get in behind the away side’s rearguard.
The breakthrough came midway through the second half, when Mario Balotelli won a free-kick on the edge of the area. Skipper Steven Gerrard stepped up and converted expertly, to give the Reds the lead, curling up and around the wall to narrowly beat Tim Howard with pinpoint precision.
Balotelli, who is still waiting for his first Premier League goal will be frustrated with his performance, after 10 shots, with only two on target. Perhaps the defining moment for the Italian was when a ball was flashed to him across goal, and he clipped the bar from point blank range. Although goalkeeper Howard may have just brushed the ball with his gloves, it really should have been dispatched, though credit to the American custodian.
Throughout, Romelu Lukaku made a handful of himself for the away side, while Leighton Baines proved a lively outlet, however there were times in the match when it was largely a midfield battle. Jordan Henderson and Gerrard repelling the likes of Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith, while Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana had their opportunites snuffed out against the steely barrier of Gareth Barry, Muhamed Besic and James McCarthy, when they came infield.
However with the clock running down, the ball fell to Jagielka, as Liverpool failed to clear their lines, who steered a sensational strike past Simon Mignolet, to put him in contention for goal of the season. Attention now turns to the Champions League for the Reds, who are 28/1 to win Europe’s elite competition.