Everton fans turn on board after Liverpool dish out Merseyside mauling at mutinous Goodison Park

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·25-min read
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Liverpool put four past Rafael Benitez's Everton at mutinous Goodison Park - live reaction - Shutterstock
Liverpool put four past Rafael Benitez's Everton at mutinous Goodison Park - live reaction - Shutterstock

At the final whistle the feelings from the smattering of Everton fans still inside Goodison Park, and many left when Liverpool scored their fourth goal, were painfully clear. There was anger at the board and demands that they go; fury at chairman Bill Kenwright as he trudged away and bile directed at Rafael Benitez. It was toxic. It was mutinous. It was desperate. And, even this early on, is it already now over for the beleaguered manager?

When he was appointed Benitez will have looked for this fixture, dreamt of winning it and for his name to be finally chanted around Goodison Park. And it was chanted. Except those chants came from the large, gleeful wedge of Liverpool fans who delighted in singing their former manager’s name, reminded Evertonians that he was “at the wheel” and goaded them that they were “going down”.

It is now eight Premier League games without a win – with six defeats and just two draws – and whatever the faith in Benitez, whatever the faith in any manager, that amounts to severe pressure and a questioning as to whether he can survive. Given Benitez’s lack of popularity, even if it largely manifests itself as indifference, given the controversy of hiring him last summer then it means he is under even greater scrutiny.

Will he survive? It has to be in doubt. Changes need to be made at Everton – where director of football Marcel Brands cuts an isolated figure – and majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, who was not here, will not take kindly to the vitriol being directed from the stands towards the owners. Given Benitez’s nature he will not go down without a fight but this could quickly turn messy.

Everton's head coach Rafael Benitez, center, leaves the pitch at the end of the English Premier League  - AP
Everton's head coach Rafael Benitez, center, leaves the pitch at the end of the English Premier League - AP

Everton feared a humiliation and, despite a spirited few minutes either side of half-time, it duly arrived as Liverpool dominated, driven on by their outstanding captain Jordan Henderson and with the relentless Mohamed Salah scoring two of their four sumptuous goals.

At the end Everton looked numbed. Such was the gulf between the sides it felt like one of those cup ties where minnows give it a go for a while before being inevitably out-classed and that is simply unacceptable whatever their troubles, whatever their injury problems. After all, this is a grand old club.

The Liverpool fans first sang Benitez’s name 20 minutes before kick-off and if that felt brutal then so was the start from their team. They could, they maybe should, have been two goals up inside two minutes. In fact they could have been three up before they did eventually score – and then it was still only in the ninth minute that they did strike.

Firstly Joel Matip headed narrowly wide from a corner, then Salah volleyed over from close-range before Jordan Pickford reacted smartly to parry Salah’s shot. The next time Pickford touched the ball he was picking it out of the goal.

The warnings went unheeded as Henderson started and ended the move. He found Sadio Mane who waited for Andrew Robertson to over-lap and the full-back cut the ball back to the unmarked Henderson on the edge of the penalty area who beat Pickford with a superb first-time shot. It was his first goal in his 18th Merseyside derby.

For Benitez, the first manager since 1894 to lead both Merseyside clubs and the first ever to do so in derbies, it was the worst possible start and it got even worse. Liverpool scored again and it was about three things: Everton’s hesitancy as they surrendered possession, the precise weight of Henderson’s pass that released Salah and the perfect execution of the forward’s finish as he ran on to it and arced a shot high around Pickford without breaking stride. Even this early on it appeared some Everton supporters left the stadium.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool reacts after scoring the 3-1 lead during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC - Shutterstock
Mohamed Salah of Liverpool reacts after scoring the 3-1 lead during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC - Shutterstock

A banner emerged, just as it had done in last weekend’s defeat away to Brentford, at the Gwladys Street End, which read: “We demand Nil Satis Nisi Optimum (nothing but the best is good enough), it’s about time our club did too” but just as the mood further soured Everton pulled a goal back. The ball broke to Richarlison and his pass, with the outside of his boot, found Demarai Gray whose pace took him away from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Matip who were caught out. Alisson rushed to smother but Gray’s shot only deflected off him on its way into the goal. How the mood changed. Everton were even cheered off at half-time.

Everton Banner in The crowd during the Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool - Getty Images
Everton Banner in The crowd during the Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool - Getty Images

But it did not last and it felt apt, given Everton’s self-inflicted problems, that Liverpool’s next goal came from a mistake as Seamus Coleman horribly failed to control Gray’s bouncing pass back to him on halfway with Salah stealing the ball away. There was much to do, the Everton captain tried to tug Salah back but he held him off before sprinting into the area and rolling his shot beyond Pickford. Salah’s speed and control under pressure was astonishing. It felt he would score from the moment he went past Coleman.

A red flare was set off and there was soon another with another excellent finish even if it again owed much to poor Everton defending as Robertson found Diogo Jota who was far too easily allowed to turn inside the area and fire a shot high past Pickford and inside his near post. It was that comprehensive with Liverpool having now scored at least two goals in their last 18 games. They were calm and convincing; Everton were chaotic and crumbled.

As it happened

10:58 PM

Klopp on the performance

I liked what I saw and it was by far the best performance we've done at Goodison. We made a big step in our development that we can take these kind of games, even though they are really important for the opponent. We can put emotions to the side.

10:44 PM

Benitez speaks

The third goal changed everything because mentally it is very difficult to react after a mistake.

We are talking about key players missing, and maybe these key players are very important for the rest to play at their level.

10:38 PM

Salah speaking

"The message from the manager was that they will play physically strong and go 100% for every ball we just had to play our game and try to create chances, which we did.

"I expected him [Seamus Coleman] to do a mistake which he did. The game was tough at 2-1 but at 3-1 it becomes much better."

10:25 PM

Salah on the Ballon d'Or

He laughs off finishes 7th and says "no comment" when asked about that outcome. Let's see where he finishes next year.

10:19 PM

Jurgen Klopp leading the celebrations

10:17 PM

Are we witnessing one of English football's best attacks?

10:11 PM

FT; Everton 1 Liverpool 4

The red machine rolls on. There was a short period after Gray's goal where Everton enjoyed some territory and Liverpool's level dropped but for the vast majority of that match they looked like scoring with every attack. Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota produced some sensational finishes.

Everton now eight games without a win, their worst run in the league for 22 years. Liverpool a point behind league leaders Manchester City and have now scored 43 goals in 14 games.

10:07 PM

Jota a man in form

10:05 PM

Three minutes of added time to play!

Benitez left with plenty of blue seats for company.

10:04 PM

88 minutes

Jota off for Minamino for Liverpool. They are cruising through these closing stages. Coleman handles the ball to stop Mane dribbling away from him on halfway.

10:01 PM

86 mintes

"Rafa's at the wheel" the latest tune in the Liverpool fans' songbook this evening. Salah goes on another slalom into the box but the ball bounces off him for a Liverpool goal.

10:00 PM

84 minutes

Everton's players will want to get off this pitch and in the car home as soon as possible. Cenk Tosun is coming on for Gray, which almost feels a punishment at this stage of the game.

09:57 PM

How about that from Jota?

09:56 PM

80 minutes

Van Dijk booked for a foul, but it matters not for Liverpool. It is the first time in league football they have scored four goals at Goodison since 1982.

09:55 PM

GOAL! What a goal from Jota

What a way to seal the win, and Everton fans are streaming out.

Robertson punched the ball into Jota who had Allan at his back, he flicked it around the defender and turned in one movement before steadying himself and lashing into the roof of the net from a tight angle. Jota at £40m was another excellent piece of Liverpool recruitment.

09:53 PM

76 minutes

Van Dijk took a chance with his positioning there but Richarlison could not quite poke the pass through to Gordon. Police are leading away one of the regulars in the Gwladys St.

Looks like some commotion was caused by Alisson, lightly it must be said, kicking his bottle towards the crowd.

09:49 PM

74 minutes

Everton change: Delph replaces Townsend. Liverpool fans now regaling the home fans with 'Merry Christmas Everton' to that Shakin' Stevens tune. James Milner has replaced Thiago in the Liverpool midfield.

09:47 PM

71 minutes

Nothing underlines how worthless the Ballon Snore is than the fact Salah only finished seventh. He looks the outstanding individual in world football by some distance currently. Everton have been spirited but goals seem to come so easily for Liverpool.

09:42 PM

Salah's goal and Coleman's error

09:42 PM

67 minutes

Mane leaves a little on Pickford, before Richarlison's cross is a little too high for Townsend. Surely Liverpool will not give Everton another route back into this game.

09:40 PM

GOOOOAL! Salah hits Everton on the break

Coleman wants the ground the swallow him up. He tried to send Gray's pass back where it came from on halfway, but he misjudged the bouncing ball, leaving Salah in the clear.

Coleman got back at him, but Salah just rolled it to the side of Pickford in the far corner. Placement over power.

09:39 PM

63 minutes

Everton threatening now, Gordon with a fine touch to push the ball across Robertson in a central position and the referee books him for a foul. Free-kick, dead central, 25 yards out. Townsend over it, but his attempt flicked the top of the way, Van Dijk to be precise, and deflected for a corner. Delivery this time was poor.

09:36 PM

61 minutes

Everton's turn to defend a couple of corners. Van Dijk was under just enough pressure to mis-cue the header, before the referee blows up and Liverpool have the chance to deliver again. Pickford does just enough to palm away.

09:34 PM

58 minutes

Coleman floats a cross in after good work from Townsend down the right, but there is too much air on it and Alisson claims. The game is in a slight lull at the moment.

Everton have lost Rondon to a muscular injury, replaced by Anthony Gordon who is another speedy dribbler.

09:31 PM

55 minutes

Liverpool won a free-kick around 25 yards from goal which Van Dijk decided to take, but he struck the ball straight into the wall before Thiago blazed over the bar. Richarlison then gets the chance to run at Van Dijk with Robertson caught forward but it was a wild effort.

09:27 PM

52 minutes

Dangerous Everton attack. Rondon with a wonderful touch to bring down a long ball, before Gray whipped in a devilish cross which Matip headed over his own bar for a corner. Liverpool deal with it, but it is some more encouragement for Everton.

09:26 PM

50 minutes

Liverpool showing more composure on the ball, but Thiago's dinked pass into the area runs all the way through to Pickford. Everton not happy with the referee because they thought the ball had gone out.

09:23 PM

47 minutes

Salah with a lovely piece of skill, but then Townsend wins a foul close to the corner which helps Everton push up the pitch. Then Alexander-Arnold slips a pass inside to Mane but Keane slides in with an excellent block.

09:21 PM

We're back under way!

Let's hope for more of the same, but Liverpool will want to reassert themselves.

09:14 PM

Salah's finish

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores their second goal Action Images - Reuters
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores their second goal Action Images - Reuters

09:06 PM

HT: Everton 1 Liverpool 2

A scintillating opening period from Liverpool but Everton somehow managed to stay in the game and now have hope. The question is, how much of that mini-revival was down to Liverpool complacency? Klopp will want his team to go through the gears again.

09:03 PM

47 minutes

Good interplay from Liverpool and Henderson, and they will finish the half as a corner. Everton clear.

There is still time for one last Everton attack, and Digne's cross comes for Doucoure at the back post but his shot was blocked.

09:02 PM

2 minutes added time

Liverpool produce their best attack for a while and Pickford has to beat Mane's header away. What a half of football this has been.

09:00 PM

44 minutes

Not for the first time, the home crowd are furious! Good work from Doucoure to get a foot in in midfield, and Gray tries to win a free-kick at the edge of the area but went down under the minimum of contact.

08:58 PM

42 minutes

Liverpool have been guilty of some slackness since that vibrant opening 20 minutes. Now Robertson's diagonal pass skips out for a goal kick harmlessly. They need to find the accuracy in their passing again.

08:57 PM

Everton's goal

08:56 PM

40 minutes

The tempo of this match is on a different scale since that goal; Matip and Gray clash heads before Digne steams through Henderson and collects a deserved booking. Poor challenge from the Everton left-back.

08:55 PM

GOAL! Everton have one back through Gray

Well, who saw that coming? Everton's best player this season delivers again. Some space opened up between Matip and Alexander-Arnold, Richarlison played a good pass through that gap with the outside of his right foot and Gray took it into his stride wonderfully and finished. Game on.

08:52 PM

37 minutes

Decent pressing from Everton to stop Liverpool playing out from the back with their earlier ease. They have to throw caution to the wind and hunt the ball down in all areas, chasing a two-goal deficit. Alexander-Arnold tries an ambitious pass which flies straight to Pickford.

08:50 PM

What a season Salah is having

08:50 PM

33 minutes

Everton have at least quietened this game down a touch, Liverpool happy to sit absorb whatever they have to offer. Which is not much.

Now play is stopped with Robertson down on the far side, after a fairly innocuous 50:50 challenge with Townsend.

08:47 PM

30 minutes

More vociferous boos at Goodison as Allan is penalised for a late challenge on Jota when Everton had bodies forward on the counter attack. The Everton man caught Jota on the ankle with the follow through. Var has a look, but it remains a yellow card for Allan.

08:46 PM

Carra's verdict on Salah

08:45 PM

28 minutes

Matip in the right place to head Gray's cross away. A few moments earlier the Everton winger should perhaps have pulled the trigger when he had the chance.

A little better from Everton, and Allan is hacked down in midfield by Thiago when there were a number of blue shirts pushed forward.

08:42 PM

Fast start

08:41 PM

Salah's goal

08:40 PM

23 minutes

Everton just about survive those corners, but you sense the scoring is not over in this match. Benitez tried to be bold with this set-up featuring two strikers but it looks to be leaving too much space.

08:38 PM

21 minutes

Some Everton fans walked straight out after that second goal hit the net. Liverpool continue to camp in their half with a succession of corners, and the delivery from Robertson and Alexander-Arnold is excellent.

08:36 PM

GOAL! Pickford stays at home and Salah beats him

Everton's defenders were caught high up the pitch with little pressure on the ball, and Henderson was able to feed the ball in behind into Salah's path.

Pickford could have rushed out to meet him but stayed closer to his line, giving Salah all the time in the world to open his body up and curl the ball into the far corner. All but game over.

08:34 PM

18 minutes

Better from Everton, pinching the ball back in the right corner, but Alexander-Arnold defended well to prevent Richarlison's cross finding Gray. Alisson deals with the corner at the second attempt.

Then it is Liverpool's turn to attack and Pickford punches Henderson's cross away.

08:33 PM

Henderson's goal

08:32 PM

15 minutes

Alexander-Arnold forces Pickford into a diving save with a shot from distance, before Townsend is booked for diving at the other end after throwing himself to the floor before Robertson made a challenge. Cue another cascade of boos from the terraces. Liverpool continue to look dangerous.

08:30 PM

12 minutes

Everton have responded in sprightly fashion but they are lacking some quality in their final pass. Lots of boos at Goodison, hard to ascertain whether it is aimed at Everton's players, the officials or the opposition. Long way back from here for Benitez.

08:28 PM

Salah's miss early in the game

08:26 PM

GOAL! Liverpool have the breakthrough thanks to Henderson

Space down the left for Liverpool to exploit. Mane slips the ball to Robertson who drags the ball back to the edge of the box where Henderson swept it into the bottom corner with his weaker left foot. Fabulous finish.

08:25 PM

8 minutes

Liverpool probing again, and that is an excellent stop from Pickford. Salah turned Mane's low cross towards goal with a first-time effort and the England No 1 got down quickly to keep it out. Some boos for Van Dijk whenever he touches the ball, for having the temerity to have his leg smashed last season.

08:22 PM

6 minutes

Benitez, unusually, has started with two central strikers with Richarlison partnering Rondon through the middle.

Gray threatens down the left and delivers a good cross, but Liverpool break themselves and win a corner. A really entertaining and enterprising first five or six minutes at Goodison.

Alexander-Arnold whips it in from the right, but Everton head clear.

08:19 PM

4 minutes

Liverpool swarming all over their rivals here! Townsend gives the ball away in his own defensive third, Jota pounced and crossed from the left and Salah was free in the middle but he volleyed over the bar. I think he could have gone with a diving header. Once again, a red shirt was free as a bird in the box. Two good chances within three minutes for Liverpool.

08:18 PM

2 minutes

Impeccable control from Mane to pluck an Alexander-Arnold long ball out of the sky. Coleman just did enough against the forward but was furious with Pickford for not coming off his line to collect. Liverpool corner.

And Matip glances wide with a free header from six yards out! First big chance of the night for Liverpool. That will not help Everton's nerves.

08:16 PM


After the players take the knee, Liverpool kicks us off shooting from left to right in the first half.

08:11 PM

The players are on their way

The teams make their way from separate tunnels, Liverpool from over in the far corner.

08:11 PM

Cracking atmospshere...

Only a few more Goodison derbies to savour for Everton fans, and they are in good voice despite recent results. Liverpool will be looking to quieten them down.

08:08 PM

There are chants of Rafael Benitez at Goodison...

Though sadly, they are coming from the away end. Could be a tough night for him.

07:55 PM

Liverpool's right side

Everton will look to hit diagonal balls into Richarlison to exploit the space behind Trent Alexander-Arnold. Richarlison was sent off in this fixture last season and tends to be a prime antagonist of opponents.

07:41 PM

Jurgen Klopp's arrival at Goodison

07:39 PM

Not great news for Benitez

Everton manager Rafael Benítez has won just one of his 10 Premier League games against sides he’s previously managed (D3 L6), beating Chelsea 3-0 with Newcastle in May 2018. Meanwhile, former Liverpool managers have lost 13 of their last 14 Premier League games against Liverpool, with Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester winning 3-1 last season in the other. (Via Opta)

07:24 PM

Benitez speaks

If you want to beat Liverpool at the moment you need to be strong physically and playing well.

We need to work as a team, stick together, be compact and make sure we help each other. You cannot stop Salah with one player.

07:22 PM

The team news analysed

It's a really strong Liverpool team with Robertson and Matip back in. Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago is possibly their most senior and high-quality midfield and the front three picks itself with Firmino out.

The surprise for Everton is that Benitez has stuck with Rondon up front - a sign he wants to be more direct? - with Gray playing in a No 10 position.

07:18 PM

Everton XI: Richarlison back in a 4-2-3-1

07:17 PM

Liverpool XI: Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago start in midfield

07:07 PM

Virgil Van Dijk returns to the scene of his serious injury

 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk arriving outside the stadium before the match - Reuters
Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk arriving outside the stadium before the match - Reuters

06:49 PM

Derby discipline

This fixture has seen more red cards than any other in Premier League history, but Jurgen Klopp has vowed that his Liverpool side want to keep this a football match.

"It is a shame that I have to mention that but I think we were the fairest team in England and most of the time the fairest team in Europe in the last five years," said Klopp when asked whether his players had to exercise a degree of control.

"If you play pressing, high press, counter-press, the plan is to win the ball and to win the ball you have to touch the ball, that's how it is because you want to keep playing after that. You don't want to create a free-kick or give a foul away.

"That is why you want to win the ball in the right way and you want to play it from there.

"In the past, before I arrived here, you could watch a highlight reel and if you wanted to see some things you wouldn't want to see in football it would be easy to find one on Liverpool's side and on Everton's side.

"Since I am here we always try to play a football game."

06:46 PM

Thierry Henry working as an Amazon pundit at Goodison

Former player Thierry Henry working for Amazon Prime Video - Reuters
Former player Thierry Henry working for Amazon Prime Video - Reuters

03:50 PM

A Merseyside derby which could decide Rafael Benitez's fate

Everton finished one place above Liverpool in 2004-05, leading the Goodison Park faithful to christen their rivals' manager 'Rather Beneath-us' but there can be no doubt about the current balance of power in Merseyside.

Rafael Benitez is now in the Everton technical area and is under immense pressure after a run of two Premier League points from a possible 21, while Liverpool are in the thick of the title race and the division's most devastating attacking force.

There is potential for the atmosphere to turn sour at Goodison - with Everton fans giving their apologetic players a volley after Sunday's defeat at Brentford - although supporters tend to avoid airing dirty linen in view of fierce rivals.

Everton do have Richarlison back from suspension, who can provide a crucial injection of speed and goal threat with Dominic Calvert-Lewin still sidelined through injury. The Brazilian scored the opening goal in Everton's 2-0 win at Anfield last season, their first win at Liverpool in the Premier League since 1999.

Eight of the last nine Goodison Park Premier League derbies have finished as draws, an outcome Everton might sign up for given Liverpool's form. Jurgen Klopp's team are averaging three goals, 19.5 shots and 2.7 expected goals per game, although Brighton and West Ham were able to expose some defensive frailties.

Joe Gomez, Naby Keita, Roberto Firmino and Curtis Jones are all still absent for Liverpool but Joel Matip could return after being rested against Southampton.

"I think the fans are intelligent and they know we need them. The fans are crucial and the main thing for us," former Liverpool boss Benitez told reporters on Tuesday.

"If they're behind the team, you could see the atmosphere in the first game - they were behind us, and the team was reacting. I think they'll realise how important they are for the players.

"We started the season doing really well and everyone was happy with that. Because we don't have good results now, you can question everything... We have to be sure we continue supporting the team, continue pushing. We'll be better, we want to."

Full team news on the way shortly.

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