Rooney spot on as Reds pay penalty

Everton captain Wayne Rooney cannot hide his joy after scoring his first Merseyside derby goal via a penalty to rescue a point for the Toffees. The 1-1 draw extends Everton's unbeaten start under new boss Sam Allardyce.
Everton captain Wayne Rooney cannot hide his joy after scoring his first Merseyside derby goal via a penalty to rescue a point for the Toffees. The 1-1 draw extends Everton's unbeaten start under new boss Sam Allardyce.PHOTO: REUTERS

Klopp's decision to bench star duo backfires as Lovren's mistake gifts equaliser for Toffees

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Liverpool 1

Everton 1

LONDON • If the dream for Wayne Rooney was to score a winner for Everton at Anfield, the reality of an equaliser ought to be pleasurable enough.

Everton still have not won away at their local rivals in this millennium, but a draw represented the next best thing. It was secured by the stand-in skipper's emphatic but controversial penalty.

It extended Everton's unbeaten start under Sam Allardyce and brought into question Jurgen Klopp's team selection.

The German is the only Liverpool manager ever to win his first three Merseyside derbies, but adopted a unique approach to the fourth.

Few others would rotate to such an extent for such a meaningful match. Klopp began by benching two of his "Fab Four" - Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.

It seemed not to matter when another of them, Mohamed Salah, scored a spectacular opener but Rooney's leveller ensured frustration engulfed Anfield as Liverpool missed the chance to go third.

SAVOURING THE MOMENT

It is a fantastic point for us. We defended brilliantly. We had two or three moments on the break that we had to take and we did that... It is always nice to score against Liverpool, no matter who you play for.

WAYNE ROONEY, Everton captain, who scored his first goal in a Merseyside derby.

The Reds dominated in every measure - shots, possession, corners - bar the scoreline. Everton's goal may have been fortunate and their intentions were limited, but the pragmatic Allardyce succeeded where many others have failed of late by halting Liverpool.

Rooney was an emblematic figure. He began almost as an auxiliary right-back as Allardyce congested the centre of the pitch in a narrow 4-4-2 formation designed to nullify.

He took up a more attacking role after Salah's opener and a double half-time change for Everton.

A more open second period ought to have brought further goals for Liverpool. Instead Everton struck when Dejan Lovren was guilty of naivety in nudging Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who tumbled to the turf. Rooney thumped his penalty past Simon Mignolet.

It is an understatement to say the start was uneventful. Midway through the first half, Liverpool, featuring Dominic Solanke and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, had completed 93 per cent of their passes, Everton just 46 per cent of theirs.

At one stage, Jordan Henderson had completed more passes than the whole of the visiting side.

REDS DESERVED TO WIN

Our performance was good. We didn't score often enough. I saw only one team playing... You see the picture of the penalty. Calvert-Lewin is smart but it is nothing. But it is a penalty and one team can celebrate and we can't.

JURGEN KLOPP, Liverpool coach, coming to terms with sharing the points with Everton despite his side dominating the game.

Then the Premier League's leading scorer produced something out of nothing to break the deadlock.

Salah spun away from Cuco Martina, skipped past Idrissa Gueye and curled a shot into the top corner of Jordan Pickford's goal.

His 19th goal of a prolific campaign endorsed the case to name him the signing of the season.

It also highlighted the advantage of Klopp's policy of picking inverted wingers, with a left-footer flourishing on the right.

Victory should have been sealed by half-time - Sadio Mane scuffing a shot wide after surging clear - and could have been clinched just after, Salah heading James Milner's cross past the post.

The misses - and Joe Gomez could also have scored - were costly. Coutinho and Firmino were on by the end, but neither Brazilian could conjure a winner and Klopp's gamble failed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2017, with the headline 'Rooney spot on as Reds pay penalty'. Print Edition | Subscribe