Premier League - Liverpool beat 10-man Everton
Liverpool controversially claimed victory in the 216th Merseyside derby with a 2-0 Premier League win over Everton at Goodison Park.
Andy Carroll scored his first league goal since April to seal all three points and back-to-back wins for the Reds after their neighbours had been reduced to 10 men. Luis Suarez made it 2-0 in the closing stages after Everton had continued to compete despite their numerical disadvantage.
Suarez, the ever-willing lightning rod for controversy, was at the centre of things throughout the match. The Uruguayan drew the foul which led to Jack Rodwell's contentious sending off midway through the first half, and was then brought down by Phil Jagielka inside the Everton box in the run-up to half-time, but Tim Howard saved brilliantly from Dirk Kuyt's spot-kick.
The win means Liverpool will still be in the top five of the Premier League irrespective of the results of the weekend's other fixtures, while Everton remain in the bottom half.
Everton won the corresponding fixture a year ago - beating Liverpool 2-0 last October in the Reds' first match under the ownership of Fenway Sports Group - and they had the better of the opening quarter in the latest instalment of this historic fixture.
At the end of a typically frenetic opening 10 minutes chances came at both ends within moments of each other. Kuyt capitalised on Jagielka's incomplete clearance to cross for Suarez, who headed right at Howard from close range. The Everton keeper's quick distribution launched a counter-attack which resulted in Pepe Reina having to parry Tim Cahill's header.
The home side soon began to take control, with Sylvain Distin curling an effort over the bar and Louis Saha marking his first start of the season with a dangerous drilled effort that whistled past the far post.
But things went wrong for David Moyes's side when Rodwell slid in to tackle Suarez on 23 minutes. The young midfielder leapt in and won the ball cleanly before catching Suarez, who made the most of the contact. The incident happened right in front of referee Martin Atkinson, the most liberal official in the Premier League when it comes to red cards, and he did not hesitate in giving Rodwell his marching orders. Rodwell stormed off down the tunnel, furious that he had become the 20th player to be sent off in this fixture in the Premier League era.
Despite being a man up, Liverpool laboured as they tried to take the game to their local rivals. It took another spark from Suarez to give them a chance. Just before the break he cleverly turned and drew a foul from Jagielka just inside the box and won a penalty. Kuyt placed the ball on the spot looking to score in his fourth consecutive Merseyside derby, but his low shot from 12 yards was turned around the foot of the post by Howard.
Everton continued to give a good account of themselves after the restart, with Saha sending a low shot wide from the edge of the area. The French striker then blocked a Carroll header en route to goal before Howard pawed away another effort from the £35 million striker.
Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish brought on captain Steven Gerrard - still being eased back into action following a lengthy lay-off - and Craig Bellamy, and it was the latter who helped the Reds break the deadlock with 20 minutes remaining.
Bellamy played a pass down the left channel for Jose Enrique. The Spanish full-back cut the ball back from the byline and Carroll had enough space to swivel and hit a left-footed half-volley past Howard from 10 yards.
Suarez then got the goal his dogged performance deserved when his persistence forced Distin into a poor clearance, and the Uruguayan pounced to coolly sidefoot past Howard, sealing a 2-0 scoreline in this fixture at Goodison for the fourth-straight season.