Phil Jagielka popped up with a stunning stoppage-time equaliser to earn Everton a 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday.
The hosts looked set to record a morale-boosting victory courtesy of a 65th-minute free-kick from Steven Gerrard, for whom it was his ninth goal in Barclays Premier League Merseyside derbies, more than any other player. However, Jagielka levelled in sensational fashion late on, driving home a ferocious half-volley from distance to leave Simon Mignolet with no chance.
Fifteen years have passed since Everton's last triumph at Anfield, but Roberto Martinez's men will take great heart from the manner in which they claimed a point on this occasion. Liverpool, again without the injured Daniel Sturridge, were on top for much of the game, but failed to capitalise on their superiority and have gone three Barclays Premier League matches without a victory.
With Sturridge still unavailable due to a thigh problem, Liverpool brought in Lazar Markovic and Adam Lallana at the expense of Lucas Leiva and Fabio Borini. Everton handed a maiden Barclays Premier League start to Muhamed Besic, while Tony Hibbert featured from the start in a top-flight match for the first time in 666 days with Seamus Coleman injured and there were also recalls for Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith.
Gareth Barry was at the heart of the action in the opening 10 minutes as Liverpool started brightly. The former England midfielder was booked inside a minute for a foul on boyhood Evertonian Adam Lallana. After Romelu Lukaku had seen an appeal for apenalty turned down following a challenge from Alberto Moreno, Barry handled a goalbound shot from Raheem Sterling inside the Everton area, but referee Martin Atkinson said it was too close to the player’s face to be deemed worthy of a spot-kick.
Barry came close to a second booking when tripping Mario Balotelli before Tim Howard made a fine save, diving to his right to keep out Lallana's header from a corner.
Everton weathered the early storm and Lukaku tested Mignolet from long range before Leighton Baines delivered a dangerous low cross that Dejan Lovren did well to clear with Lukaku lurking.
Mirallas was withdrawn with an apparent hamstring injury in the 31st minute, Aiden McGeady taking his place, and Liverpool went close again before the break as Sterling forced Howard into action at his near post.
Strong defending from James McCarthy prevented Markovic from capitalising on a glorious Sterling through-ball early in the second half.
With chances proving hard to come by, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers replaced Markovic with Philippe Coutinho on the hour mark and Liverpool were ahead soon after.
Baines was adjudged to have fouled Balotelli 25 yards from goal and Gerrard stepped up to curl the free-kick over the wall and beyond Howard, who got his left hand to the ball but could not keep it out.
Lukaku made a mess of a free header for Everton within two minutes, then Balotelli struck the crossbar from the next attack as the action switched from one end to the other.
The lively Balotelli saw an ambitious effort fly narrowly wide with 10 minutes remaining, but Jagielka found the net with an even more spectacular attempt in stoppage time to leave Liverpool stunned.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: “We certainly didn't get what we deserved. It was very clear we were much the better side, and when you concede a goal like that so late on, it probably epitomises the luck that went against us. I never felt in any danger in the game.
"He [Gerrard]'s shown many times over the years that's his range. He's such a selfless guy, Stevie. And he was letting Mario [Balotelli] take a few [free-kicks] in the first half and I was screaming for him to take it because he's got so much quality.
"It was a goal that should have won the game, a wonderful free-kick, and his performance was outstanding. I'm very proud of the players. We took the lead, arguably should have had at least two more and should have definitely had a penalty. So, it [the result] was disappointing but the performance was at a much better level."
Everton manager Roberto Martinez: “We had two choices: accept it wasn't our day or keep fighting. We showed incredible belief and character and we got our rewards.
"We had to show a great defensive intensity and we did that, though we weren't ourselves going forward. As a result, I'd say it's our best of the season so far because of what it could give us. It could lift us and change the dynamic of our season."
"I don't think I've seen a better strike in live football [than Jagielka’s]. It had to be incredible to go in the top corner and it was. The way he adjusted his body is very impressive. And to get that power almost off the outside of his laces - it's some strike.”
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