Toffees triumph over wretched Reds

John Henry, head of New England Sports Ventures, was at Goodison
Park to witness first-hand a fiery encounter which Everton
dominated for long periods and deservedly won. Goals from Tim
Cahill and Mikel Arteta did the damage either side of half-time as
the hosts out-played and out-fought their near-neighbours. The
defeat left Liverpool in 19th place in the Premier League, with
only a solitary victory over West Brom in eight games. And their
worst start to a season since 1953/54 – when they were relegated –
undoubtedly got worse with defeat against a team who were only a
place above them before the start of play. One thing is certain and
that is the new American owners, who invested heavily in the Boston
Red Sox when they acquired the baseball team in 2001 prior to two
World Series wins, will have to come up with funds for manager Roy
Hodgson to strengthen in January. All the focus, as it had been for
the preceding week, will be on Liverpool’s failure but Everton were
worthy winners, ending a run of three successive derby defeats. The
opening 45 minutes were in keeping with most Merseyside derbies,
with the first late tackle coming after just 11 seconds and several
more proliferating the half. Maxi Rodriguez and Raul Meireles
earned themselves yellow cards while Tim Cahill was booked for
Everton as World Cup final referee Howard Webb tried to exercise
restraint. The actual football action was very limited with Arteta
hitting a 20-yard free-kick into the wall and Everton centre-backs
Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin both having half-chances with
shots from inside the box. Prior to Everton’s opening goal it was
the visitors who had come closest to scoring with their first
attack – although it took them 23 minutes to create one. Joe Cole’s
left-wing cross picked out the fit-again Fernando Torres at the
near-post and his flicked header forced Tim Howard to tip over his
crossbar. Meireles had a 25-yard piledriver blocked by a wall of
blue shirts from a half-cleared corner but that was the most
Liverpool threatened. It was just after their all-too-brief best
spell of the first half that Liverpool went behind. A slack piece
of defending by Lucas Leiva and Paul Konchesky in the 34th minute
allowed Seamus Coleman to run to the byline and cross for Cahill to
hook home at the near post. It immediately sparked chants of ‘going
down’ from the home fans. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov replaced Osman for
the second half, which was only four minutes old when Everton went
2-0 up. Sotirios Kyrgiakos’ headed clearance only reached the edge
of the penalty area where Arteta was lurking to smash home a
brilliant swerving volley. Manager Roy Hodgson had spoken in the
build-up of his hope of seeing his side not have to chase a game –
which had cost them in previous matches – but now they had a
mountain to climb. Meireles’ 30-yard shot failed to cause Howard
any difficulty while Torres’ effort from inside the area landed in
the top tier of the Gwladys Street stand. Joe Cole’s inability to
control a pass from Reina, allowing the ball to run out of play,
summed up Liverpool’s performance. Everton continued to create the
chances and Jagielka fired over from a corner in the last 15
minutes before substitute Jermain Beckford had claims for a penalty
turned down after falling under a challenge from Martin Skrtel. By
contrast, Gerrard was woefully off target when teed up by
substitute Ryan Babel on the edge of the penalty area while Torres
shot straight at Howard when he should worked the goalkeeper more.
Beckford had chance to finish in style in added time but drilled
his shot over. This derby was billed as the most significant in
three decades, considering the clubs’ league positions. Seasons do
not succeed or fail on such occasions but it will prove a useful
point of reference for Liverpool’s new owners.