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Robertson and Origi sink Everton to keep Liverpool on title trail

Andy Robertson and Divock Origi gave Liverpool a 2-0 victory in the Merseyside derby to maintain their title pursuit and leave Everton in the relegation zone
Robertson and Origi sink Everton to keep Liverpool on title trail
Andy Robertson celebrates his goal.

The Kop taunted Everton with chants of “Going down” while Liverpool refused to give up on catching Manchester City in the title race.

Frank Lampard’s relegation-threatened team impressed only for an unlikely derby hero to emerge in Andy Robertson, and a not-so-unlikely one in Divock Origi, to leave the Merseyside rivals competing for colossal stakes at opposite ends of the Premier League.

Robertson timed his second goal of the season to perfection from a Liverpool perspective with nerves increasing among the home support before his 62nd-minute breakthrough.

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Origi appeared from the bench to torment Everton yet again with his sixth derby goal as Jürgen Klopp’s team made it 12 Premier League home victories in succession. The day ended with the local rivals separated by 50 points and with Liverpool having enjoyed 82.7% possession, the second-highest total in a game since Opta started collecting the data in 2003-04, but this was far from the procession that the statistics suggest or many had anticipated.

The sense of foreboding that accompanied Everton to Anfield deepened before a ball had been kicked in the 240th Merseyside derby. Burnley’s win over Wolves dropped Lampard’s team into the relegation zone for the first time this season. If that wasn’t enough, Ben Godfrey suffered a quadricep injury in the warm-up and was replaced by Michael Keane. Lampard had rested Yerry Mina after his return from a two-month layoff against Leicester on Wednesday, leaving Everton a man down on a bench that included the 18-year-old midfielder Isaac Price.

To Everton’s credit, neither the disruption nor the growing threat of relegation affected the visitors in a first half that stifled and irked Liverpool in equal measure. Lampard flooded his midfield and employed some of the wind-up tactics that José Mourinho employed here when Chelsea derailed Liverpool’s title bid in 2014. Jordan Pickford took an age over every goalkick and clearance; Richarlison collapsed in a heap whenever touched, and sometimes when not touched at all; and the otherwise excellent Anthony Gordon was booked for diving over Naby Keïta’s leg inside the Liverpool penalty area. That sparked the first of two scuffles in the opening period and, in truth, the needle was more entertaining than the game at that point.

Liverpool’s frustration was chiefly down to Everton’s deep, disciplined defending and sharp counterattacks than time-wasting and theatrics. The hosts were unable to repeat the first-half blitzes that devastated Manchester City and United in their previous two outings because there were no gaps to exploit. Klopp thought there were not enough runs in behind. Unusual sloppiness in possession did not help Liverpool either. Pickford was barely troubled before the interval. Sadio Mané’s shot over in the 21st minute was Liverpool’s first – and only – attempt of note until Robertson broke the deadlock.

Divock Origi wraps up the points for Liverpool with a late header.

The bigger threat came from Everton on the break. Gordon raced away from Trent Alexander-Arnold on to an Abdoulaye Doucouré pass and went down just outside the area after a push in the back from the full-back. The referee Stuart Attwell gave nothing. Doucouré also went through after good work by Richarlison but lacked conviction and dragged a tame shot across the face of Alisson’s goal. Gordon did similar in the second half, sprinting through on the left but pulling his effort wide of the far post.

Needle was the often most notable feature. Richarlison went down holding his face after a touch from Fabinho early on. He fell holding his head again later in the half, forcing Attwell to halt play to the obvious annoyance of Liverpool’s players. When the Brazil international stayed down seconds later with a genuine ankle injury both the referee and Liverpool played on. Doucouré, incensed, took matters into his own hands by hacking down Fabinho for a booking.

Another melee ensued and Mané was booked for raising a hand to Allan’s face. He also poked a finger in Mason Holgate’s eye. Diogo Jota was fortunate when, having been fouled by Séamus Coleman, he reacted with a raised arm that just missed the Everton captain.

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Everton remained dangerous on the counter, almost exclusively via Gordon, who was cleaned out on one run by Alexander-Arnold and had a strong penalty appeal denied with the game goalless when going down under a shove from Joël Matip. But there was more intensity and urgency to Liverpool in the second half with Mohamed Salah increasingly prominent. It was the introduction of Origi and Luis Díaz around the hour mark – that Klopp staple – that made the vital difference, however.

Origi, so often the scourge of Everton, had been on the pitch a minute when he exchanged passes with Salah inside the visitors’ penalty area.

Salah chipped a delightful cross to the back post where Robertson, of all people, charged in to head beyond an exposed Pickford. Holgate headed off the line from Matip, with Salah slicing the rebound over, and Robertson then made an invaluable contribution at the other end of the pitch when clearing Dele Alli’s cross before Alex Iwobi could tap home.

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Victory was secured in the final minutes with Liverpool substitutes again to the fore. When Robertson’s corner sailed over a crowded area, Jordan Henderson collected and centred for Díaz at the back post. The Colombia international connected with a scissor-kick that bounced off the turf. Origi ghosted in behind two Everton defenders to beat Pickford with a close-range header.

There was still time for Alisson to mock Pickford’s earlier time-wasting by flopping on the ball after saving from Richarlison. Liverpool had the last laugh, but had been made to fight all the way.

  • Premier League
  • Liverpool
  • Everton
  • match reports
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