Well...it was a Derby. Liverpool started with a line up no one would have seen. Enrique was a known issued, but instead Liverpool started without Sturridge and Rodgers opted to play Allen and Flanagan. While Allen was poor for the most part, missing a wide open net after the ball fell to him 7 yards from net, Flanagan looked calm and hardly put a foot wrong. In fact, I can only recall one time when he stabbed at the ball allowing Mirallas a shot in the first half from a poor angle and far out.
Well is wouldn't be a Derby without controversy and as much as Phil Dowd tried to avoid it, it was his desire to avoid it that thrust him into the limelight when Mirallas felled Suarez early in the first half. As Suarez, who was already limping at the time, came in for a bouncing ball, Mirallas came in hard late and extremely high ironically leaving what looked like bite marks on Suarez's knee. Dowd was in perfect position to see it, but still opted only to show a yellow. Not only would he have been unable to produce two of Everton's assists, Everton would have been down to 10 men for a huge part of the match with Liverpool already ahead.
Coutinho started the scoring early, latching on to a header slipped to him by Suarez. Liverpool rested on the laurels and the old adage that you are most vulnerable right after you score bit Liverpool hard with Mirallas scoring just 3 minutes later. Not to be out done, Suarez did what Suarez does...no not biting people, scoring. After a free kick about 25 yards out he squeezed the ball through the wall and past the outstretched beard of Tim Howard. On a side note, his beard has now been named a wildlife sanctuary.
Shortly after, the aforementioned controversy took place. I don't want to talk any more about it because it will just piss me off. Feel free to vent about it below.
The second half was a back and forth affair until Everton were awarded a very soft free kick from nearly the same spot Suarez scored from in the first. After a deflection requiring yet another fantastic save, the ball squirted out wide and was played across the box to an open Lukaku who slotted home.
Lukaku then was unsurprisingly able to beat Flanagan, whose responsibility was not Lukaku, as Johnson backed off him. Lukaku put his header just above Sturridge's head in the top corner and once again the curse of Lukaku struck again.
The rest is history and what was a real "thrilling" Derby that ended with blue bitters hopes being crushed as Sturridge managed to get Liverpool a point with a late equalizer on a brilliant free kick from Gerrard. Thrilling for the neutrals, absolutely gutwrenchingly painful for the rest of us.
Some angry thoughts below:
-I see lots of calls for Lukaku as the man of the match. He was anonymous...except for two goals. Any honest person would only choose Mignolet. He was an absolute beast.
-Seriously, did Dowd even look at Suarez's injuries? If he did, how could he not give a red? Surely with the eternity he took to decide he should have known better.
-Flanagan looks like a man reborn. Or was it Flanagan's mole playing and Flanagan was along for the ride? Either way, he was excellent.
-Gerrard had a poor match by his standards. His touch was off and he really failed to take control of the midfield.
-This was a very un-Liverpool like performance. On the whole, they failed to maintain the possession football they have been so beautifully playing all season.
-International breaks f-ing suck. Let's just leave it at that.
-Time to get healthy, regroup, get the mojo back and get ready for Hull. Unfortunately, it still feels like three points dropped rather than one point won. The only good thing is it feels much better to gain one point at the end than to lose two points. Watching bitter blue hands hit heads after Sturridge scored was awesome.