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LONDON • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted his side deserved yesterday's 0-0 Premier League draw with Everton, and he is already looking ahead to Tuesday's Champions League clash with Manchester City.
Mohamed Salah, a key figure in the Reds' impressive campaign thus far, was left out at Goodison Park due to a minor groin injury as Klopp tried to give his top scorer a chance to be fit for the decisive quarter-final return leg with City.
"A point is okay. Everton were always ready to fight but we didn't give them the opportunity until the late stages," Klopp told BBC Sport after the match.
"I think it's an absolutely deserved draw. For 75 minutes we were completely in charge. I am absolutely okay, it's not the best day in my life but let's carry on. Now we have to focus immediately and be ready again on Tuesday. Now we prepare for the next game, let's fight for the next round."
Goals Everton have scored in their last nine top-flight Merseyside derbies, with the Toffees failing to score in five of those games.
Games in all competitions in which Liverpool are unbeaten against Everton (W8 D9) - their longest run without defeat against their Merseyside neighbours.
Liverpool won the Champions League first leg at Anfield 3-0 but Klopp was taking no chances. His five changes to the team for the 231st Merseyside derby showed where his priorities lay.
Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke looked rusty as they were given rare starts, with the latter failing to take either of two early chances.
Roberto Firmino appeared as a late substitute in an attempt to find a winner, but Liverpool had to settle for a point.
They did, however, extend their unbeaten run in Merseyside derbies to 17 games, as Seamus Coleman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin failed to convert late chances.
Ings was starting a league match for the first time, incidentally against the same opponents, since Klopp took charge 21/2 years ago, having fought back from two cruciate knee ligament injuries, while 20-year-old striker Solanke was making only his fourth league start for the club.
In addition, right-back Nathaniel Clyne started for the Reds for the first time in 11 months after recovering from a serious back problem, while central defender Ragnar Klavan was pressed into service at left-back, having played just 11 minutes since New Year's Day.
Everton manager Sam Allardyce had written in his programme notes about derbies being occasions to be inspired by, but his team's attack failed to spark until the final 10 minutes.
Yet Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius still needed to be alert, making perhaps the save of the game when he tipped away Yannick Bolasie's 25-yard curler bound for the top corner in the first half.
RESULTS AND FIXTURES
Everton 0 Liverpool 0
Stoke 1 Tottenham 2
Leicester 1 Newcastle 2
Watford 1 Burnley 2
West Brom 1 Swansea 1
Bournemouth 2 Crystal Palace 2
Man City v Man United Late kick-off
Arsenal v Southampton
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The home side might even have won the match at the end, as January signing Cenk Tosun nodded Theo Walcott's cross towards the far post, where Coleman just failed to turn the ball in.
Calvert-Lewin then steered a shot over with only Karius to beat.
"I think that in the end when you finish the game as strongly as that and put Liverpool under pressure, you can say we were unlucky," Allardyce told Sky Sports.
"When you miss those chances, it really is disappointing but, in the second half, we played much better, we took it to Liverpool and ran at them to create chance after chance."
Everton's late efforts on goal got the home crowd going, but they would not have a goal to cheer.
Liverpool fans were not celebrating either, but at least they are likely to get another chance to do so come Tuesday.