Everton came close to securing their first Merseyside derby victory in more than a decade – but had to settle for a point against Premier League champions-elect Liverpool at Goodison Park.
Liverpool, who now need five points to be sure of top spot, can still clinch their first title in 30 years against Crystal Palace at Anfield on Wednesday – but only if Manchester City fail to beat Burnley at Etihad Stadium on Monday.
The Reds dominated possession against a very well-organised Everton, but it took a superb late save from Alisson to keep out Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s flick before Tom Davies struck the rebound against the post.
Alisson then saved well from Brazilian compatriot Richarlison as a largely tame game, with the surreal atmosphere of a derby played behind closed doors, sprang to life.
Everton keeper Jordan Pickford saved well from Fabinho’s free-kick in the closing moments but it was a game that highlighted two understandably rusty sides – although Liverpool’s coronation will come soon.
Liverpool struggle to shake off ring rust
Liverpool would have hoped to set up a potential title win at Anfield on Wednesday with victory here at Goodison Park – but after 106 days out of action, it was perhaps understandable that a side that have overpowered so many were short of their best.
Forward Mohamed Salah was only fit enough for the bench while left-back Andy Robertson was injured. Both were missed as Liverpool saw plenty of the ball but struggled to seriously test Pickford.
Naby Keita looked energetic until he came off but boss Jurgen Klopp now has further concerns over James Milner, who sustained a hamstring injury, and Joel Matip who also limped off – although Joe Gomez is an ideal replacement there.
Liverpool’s star of the show was keeper Alisson, who was in superb form when called upon in those crucial late moments.
This point – and Liverpool certainly did not deserve more – means the celebratory champagne may be on ice a little longer but it is only a matter of time, even days, before they are back at the peak of the domestic game by clinching that long-awaited title.
Ancelotti can be pleased with Everton
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti’s predecessor Marco Silva was sacked after a 5-2 derby capitulation at Anfield in December – and the difference the decorated Italian has made since was in evidence here.
Ancelotti had already made a good start to his Goodison career before the season was halted, but he has now had more of a chance to impart his methods and can be well pleased with what he saw here. In fact, he may feel disappointed his side did not win.
Everton conceded possession for long periods but were superbly organised defensively, and Alisson was much the busier goalkeeper.
Captain Seamus Coleman was simply outstanding for Everton, while the budding leadership qualities of young defender Mason Holgate could be heard as his instructions echoed around Goodison Park.
Ancelotti also has two dangerous forwards in Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison while talented teenager Anthony Gordon, who struggled to make an impact, will be better for the experience.
Ancelotti will know he needs more strength and physical presence in central midfield but this is a different Everton side to the one that capitulated so miserably in December, before also losing to a youthful Liverpool side in the FA Cup third round under the new manager.
Everton will be better when Ancelotti has more of his own signings in the team, but the signs are still promising.
Man of the match – Seamus Coleman (Everton)
An expected result? The stats
- Seven of the last eight Premier League Merseyside derbies at Goodison Park have ended level. Indeed, Everton-Liverpool has finished goalless on more occasions than any other Premier League fixture (11, includes Anfield meetings).
- Liverpool have gone 22 games without defeat against Everton in all competitions, since a 0-2 loss at Goodison in October 2010 (W11 D11) – the Reds’ joint-longest unbeaten run against a single opponent in their history (also a run of 22 games without defeat against Aston Villa from 1981-92).
- Everton remain winless in their last 22 matches against Liverpool in all competitions (D11 L11) – only against Chelsea (24 games from 2001-09) have the Toffees gone longer without a victory against a single opponent.
- Everton are the only Premier League side to remain unbeaten at home in 2020 in all competitions (P5 W2 D3).
- Liverpool have failed to win two of their last three Premier League games (W1 D1 L1) – as many as in their previous 38 (W36 D2).
- Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has managed more games against Everton in all competitions without defeat than against any other opponent in his managerial career (P11 W7 D4).
- The average age of Everton’s starting XI here was 24 years 356 days – the Toffees’ youngest starting line-up for a league match against Liverpool since February 1986 (24 years 250 days), when they won 2-0 at Anfield.
- Liverpool’s James Milner made his 535th Premier League appearance in this game, the joint-fifth highest total in the competition’s history, alongside Gary Speed.
Everton travel to Norwich on Wednesday, 24 June (18:00 BST) while Liverpool will hope to cement the Premier League title (if Manchester City fail to win on Monday) when they host Crystal Palace on the same night (20:15).