Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Merseyside derby ends with stalemate

Sylvain Distin, centre, had a second-half goal disallowed

Liverpool and Everton shared the spoils in a forgettable 220th Merseyside derby bereft of incident which ended in a goalless draw at Anfield.

Midfielder Marouane Fellaini had the visitors' best chance, volleying wide from close range in the first half, while Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard saw Sylvain Distin clear off the line after the break.

Distin had the ball in the just before the hour from a Leighton Baines' corner only for referee Michael Oliver to disallow it after the usual pushing and holding in the penalty area as he booked Victor Anichebe for dissent. However, just three bookings in a game which has seen 20 red cards in the previous 41 meetings indicated a lack of bite.

Sixth-placed Everton, five points ahead of their near-neighbours, did not have enough in their locker to end their drought on enemy territory and Jamie Carragher, on his 30th and final Merseyside derby before retirement, had one of his quieter afternoons.

Liverpool looked to utilise Daniel Sturridge's pace early on with Jordan Henderson's superb 60-yard crossfield ball into his path surpassed only by Gerrard's from the opposite diagonal which resulted in Distin clearing the striker's cross.

Gerrard's further participation became a concern when he crashed to the floor in tangling with Leon Osman and although he moved gingerly for the next few minutes there was little chance of the Huyton-born midfielder dropping out of this one early.

But in truth the visitors took their superiority in the table onto the pitch as they had the better of the opening 25 minutes in which they should have taken the lead.

Fellaini had the best chance of the half when he got on the end of Baines' free-kick but somehow shot across goal and just wide of the far post from about four yards.

Philippe Coutinho, the mastermind of last week's 6-0 drubbing of Newcastle, had initially struggled in the frenetic derby atmosphere, but early in the second half he played a fine through ball but Sturridge could not get round Tim Howard in a one-on-one situation and eventually fired into the side-netting. Distin's disallowed effort followed, with Anichebe lucky not to be punished further.

Coutinho opted for delicacy as opposed to power and lifted a shot well over before Gerrard - after a swift passing exchange with Sturridge - was denied only by Distin's goalline clearance after the midfielder had gone around Howard before the match petered out in a goalless draw.

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