Premier League, September 27th 2008, Result
Everton 0 Liverpool 2 (Torres 59, 62)
Liverpool moved to the top of the table again, even if only for a couple of hours, by taking control of the latest Merseyside derby and ending it as deserved winners.
Fernando Torres ended a short spell without a goal by getting his name on the score-sheet twice – and thought he had a hat-trick until referee Mike Riley pointed out he’d just blown for a foul by Kuyt.
His strike partner Robbie Keane still hasn’t opened his account for the Reds – but if he plays like he did today, in particular in the move for the opening goal, Rafa won’t have any issues with him at all. Just short of the hour mark Torres had got himself unmarked, in the box, and Keane’s vision and delivery were perfect. Torres made no mistake; Liverpool were ahead.
Just three minutes later Dirk Kuyt was causing Everton trouble, until Phil Jagielka put in what he must have thought was an important tackle, stopping Kuyt in his tracks. It would have been important, had Torres not been on hand to pick up the loose ball, smashing it into the roof of the net from just yards out.
His third “goal” came just two minutes later, and Riley’s decision to rule it out might have been controversial, had it not got to the point where the result was already looking academic. After the game Torres was asked if he was disappointed to see it ruled out – he wasn’t disappointed at all, he was delighted to score, but above all else delighted for Liverpool’s three points. And he was also thinking about the next match already: “It has been a difficult start for me this season after a busy summer. Six games is too many times for a Liverpool striker. Now I want to keep going in the Champions League, scoring almost every game like last season and maybe improving on the 33 I managed then.”
Before his goals he’d been clearly growing more and more frustrated, particularly at the bruising treatment he once again found himself getting from opposition defenders. In the end his frustration grew to the point where he got himself booked, and it seemed like it wasn’t going to be his day. It was.
It certainly wasn’t Everton’s day, and that applied in particular to Tim Cahill. The game was already over in terms of Everton getting anything out of it, when the Australian went in studs-showing on Xabi Alonso – who had continued with the great form he’s shown this season. Everton may grumble that it wasn’t a red card offence, but perhaps he was punished more for intent than the actual outcome of his lunge.
It was no surprise to see the familiar site of Everton boss David Moyes grumbling about the referee after the match: “It was not the worst foul of the day and I felt it was only a yellow,” he said. “We will be asking the referee to have a look at the decision and hope he will rescind the card.”
But Liverpool’s boss Rafa Benítez said Alonso viewed it differently, the suggestion being Cahill might have caused him some damage had he connected:”As for the red card, Xabi told me it could have been a lot worse,” he said. “He felt it was justified.”
Everton may have felt pre-match they had something of an advantage, with Liverpool missing Argentinean midfielder Javier Mascherano through injury, and Everton’s Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta fit to play following a virus, but it didn’t turn out that way. Their record signing, Marouane Fellaini, got himself booked after only nine minutes, and perhaps came closest to scoring a goal for Everton when he had a shot blocked on the line by Jamie Carragher – but Riley had already blown by then for Fellaini’s foul on Reina. Arteta had been waving an imaginary yellow card at Riley during the game, and eventually got his wish when his compatriot Alonso was booked for blocking his run.
The most needless yellow card went to Yakubu, who was booked after deciding to try his luck at diving rather than shooting, embarrassingly throwing himself to the ground after Skrtel had decided not to risk a tackle in the box.
After the match Rafa Benitez said of the Torres brace: “It was important for him and also for us; to score two goals in a derby is a massive boost.” And told Torres had spoken of getting 33 goals again: “I would settle for 32 from him! If he does that I will be happy.”
He felt they’d deserved the win: “From the start of the game we were passing and were well organized. We are playing with confidence and controlled the game.We didn’t change anything at half-time. We just wanted to keep playing and we knew we would score. We are top, probably for only a while, but we want to make sure we are at the top for a long time.”
Chelsea went above Liverpool later in the day, on goal difference, after beating Stoke 2-0, but Arsenal missed their chance to take top spot back with an unexpected defeat at home to Hull.
Everton: 24 Tim Howard, 2 Tony Hibbert (Saha 63), 4 Joseph Yobo, 6 Phil Jagielka, 5 Joleon Lescott, 10 Mikel Arteta, 18 Phil Neville, 25 Marouane Fellaini, 21 Leon Osman, 17 Tim Cahill, 22 Ayegbeni Yakubu
Subs: 1 Carlo Nash, 3 Leighton Baines, 8 Segundo Castillo, 9 Louis Saha (63), 14 James Vaughan, 19 Jorge Nuno Valente, 26 Jack Rodwell
Booked: Fellaini 9, Yakubu 48, Neville 64
Sent off: Cahill 80
Liverpool: 25 Jose Reina, 17 Alvaro Arbeloa, 23 Jamie Carragher, 37 Martin Skrtel, 2 Andrea Dossena, 18 Dirk Kuyt, 14 Xabi Alonso (Lucas 86), 8 Steven Gerrard, 11 Albert Riera (Aurelio 67), 9 Fernando Torres, 7 Robbie Keane (Pennant 86)
Subs: 1 Diego Cavalieri, 4 Sami Hyypia, 5 Daniel Agger, 12 Fabio Aurelio (67), 16 Jermaine Pennant (86), 19 Ryan Babel, 21 Leiva Lucas (86)
Booked: Alonso 39, Torres 50, Arbeloa 77
Stats: (Everton – Liverpool)
Possession: 46% – 54%
Shots On: 2 – 6
Shots Off: 2 – 5
Fouls: 17 – 20
Corners: 7 – 4