Liverpool’s title hopes suffer huge blow after Calvert-Lewin seals Everton win

Estimated read time 5 min read

The final Merseyside derby of Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool reign might well be remembered as the final blow to his dream of signing off with the Premier League title. For the first time in 14 years, and the first time against Klopp, Everton were triumphant against their local rivals at Goodison Park. Victory tasted all the sweeter for Sean Dyche’s team for almost certainly securing their top-flight status at the expense of Liverpool’s title shot.

“You lost the league at Goodison Park,” the home crowd bellowed as they rejoiced in a deserved Everton victory, an outstanding Everton performance and the best night of Dyche’s often-troubled reign. The imperious Jarrad Branthwaite and Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the goals that consigned Liverpool to a hugely damaging defeat.

Quite simply, Everton wanted it more. That is damning of the team that arrived with designs on the title and in need of responding to Arsenal’s emphatic defeat of Chelsea the night before. Liverpool have faltered at the worst possible time and in the worst possible places from their perspective. Everton and Manchester United will savour their contributions to the slump.

Dyche’s players were fired up and Goodison responded in kind. The old ground pulsated as Everton performed with an intent, intensity and quality that has been absent too often this season. Where has this team been? Calvert-Lewin, an injury doubt on the eve of the game, led the line superbly. It was no coincidence that the supply to the centre-forward improved greatly too. Jack Harrison and Dwight McNeil delivered the service that Calvert-Lewin craves while working tirelessly to help Idrissa Gana Gueye and James Garner assert control in midfield. Liverpool were rattled and vulnerable long before Branthwaite gave Everton an overdue lead.

Liverpool were missing Diogo Jota and Cody Gakpo, the latter joining the injured striker on the sidelines after his partner went into labour hours before kick-off. They were also missing composure for long periods and a clinical touch in front of goal, with the toils of Darwin Núñez and Mohamed Salah continuing.

Abdoulaye Doucouré had already spurned a good chance to sidefoot Everton ahead when the 244th derby had its first flashpoint. Harrison put Calvert-Lewin through on goal with a delightful cross with the outside of his foot. The striker nudged the ball around Alisson and was sent sprawling by the Liverpool goalkeeper before he could convert. The referee Andy Madley pointed to the penalty spot and showed Alisson a yellow card, to the fury of the home crowd. Their mood deteriorated further when VAR found that Calvert-Lewin was offside. No penalty and no yellow card.

Jarrad Branthwaite’s shot beats the outstretched leg of Virgil van Dijk and puts Everton aheadView image in fullscreen

The reprieve did not shake Liverpool out of their lethargy. Ben Godfrey launched himself into a vital challenge to prevent Núñez or Curtis Jones converting a first-time cross from Salah, but Everton remained in the ascendancy until the final 15 minutes of the first half. Godfrey headed wide when well-placed at a McNeil free-kick. Another McNeil free-kick found its way to Calvert-Lewin via James Tarkowski but Alisson saved the striker’s close-range header.

It was third time lucky for McNeil free-kicks when another needless Liverpool foul, this time Jones on Gueye, presented the winger with one more opportunity to worry the visiting defence. Klopp’s team seemed blissfully unaware of Everton’s prowess at set pieces.

The initial delivery was cleared to Tarkowski, who hooked the ball back across the area to Harrison. His first-time touch teed up Godfrey and, though his shot was blocked, the rebound fell invitingly for Branthwaite lurking unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box. The defender’s low shot squirmed under Alisson, rolled against the inside of a post and trickled in. There was another VAR check for offside but, after a lengthy delay, Everton were not denied a second time.

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Now Liverpool responded. Klopp’s side finally began to control possession and stretch the Everton defence. Jordan Pickford saved from Núñez when the Uruguay international was played through by Salah. The Everton keeper also denied Luis Díaz with his legs. Nunez created a clear opening for Salah but, having scuffed his initial shot against Branthwaite, Liverpool’s leading goalscorer skied the rebound wastefully.

Everton also mounted fierce resistance in the face of Liverpool’s belated pressure. Branthwaite and Gueye threw themselves in the way of goalbound shots. Tarkowski dominated his penalty area, repelling numerous crosses. The pattern continued after the restart but, from their first break of note, Everton found the luxury of a second goal. McNeil stung Alisson’s fingertips with a powerful drive from 25 yards. From the resulting corner, taken deep by McNeil, Calvert-Lewin soared into a gap left by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk to head into the bottom corner.

Liverpool, their title hopes fading, peppered the Everton area with crosses but frequently struck a royal blue shirt or found one closing them down inside the box. Díaz did beat Pickford but his curler from the left smacked the inside of the far post and bounced away. Pickford also denied Harvey Elliott and Salah late on as Everton secured a famous victory and Alexander-Arnold, sat on the bench, buried his head in his shirt. The image captured the pain of every Liverpool supporter.


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