Andrew Robertson and Divock Origi push Everton into bottom three

Liverpool are one point away from league leaders Manchester City, as a 2-0 win over Everton has the Toffees facing relegation for the first time in half-a-century.

Robertson became just the second Scotsman to score a Premier League goal for Liverpool against Everton after Gary McAllister’s 90th minute winner at Goodison Park back in April 2001. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images
Robertson became just the second Scotsman to score a Premier League goal for Liverpool against Everton after Gary McAllister’s 90th minute winner at Goodison Park back in April 2001. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images

At full time of a seismic 240th Merseyside derby, the Kop crowed at Everton’s discomfort and defeat, chanting, “going down” and “this is your last trip to Anfield”. If Liverpool’s well-known official beer partner did Sundays, they would look something like this for Kopites: Burnley overcoming Wolves to drag Everton in the relegation places, then Liverpool winning to keep them there and keep up their own chase of Manchester City.

Liverpool’s class and pressure eventually told just after the hour, and just after Jürgen Klopp had switched from 4-3-3 to 4-2-4 by sending on Divock Origi and Luis Díaz for Sadio Mané and Naby Keïta. Liverpool’s strength in depth told. Within 90 seconds, Origi was involved in the build-up to Andy Robertson’s breakthrough goal and then headed Liverpool further clear with five minutes to go and the Kop in full, gloating voice.

Yet if there was anything that embodied Liverpool’s mindset, and determination to deal with their neighbours and keep pace with City it was Robertson’s vital interception of Dele Alli’s pass to Alex Iwobi, who was denied a tap-in at 1-0. Robertson’s desire to get back into his six-yard box, his athleticism and his anticipation of Iwobi’s movement was as impressive as his well-taken headed goal.

This was a relentless examination of Liverpool’s concentration and patience as Everton gave everything they had, and were also given remarkable licence to waste time by Stuart Attwell, the referee. If Frank Lampard’s side continue to show this sort of fight, and find a finishing touch, they have a chance of maintaining their top-flight status which dates back to 1954-55 but their position is increasingly perilous, especially with Burnley finding form.

Robertson scored with Liverpool’s first attempt on target of the game in the 62nd minute, their longest wait for a shot on target in a Premier League match since March 2021 vs Chelsea (85th minute). Picture: Picture: Rich Linley - CameraSport via Getty Images
Robertson scored with Liverpool’s first attempt on target of the game in the 62nd minute, their longest wait for a shot on target in a Premier League match since March 2021 vs Chelsea (85th minute). Picture: Picture: Rich Linley - CameraSport via Getty Images

It was difficult to see how Lampard could have configured Everton any differently. He was again missing Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Fabian Delph’s body simply cannot take repeated intense action and Ben Godfrey pulled a quad in the warm-up, bringing Michael Keane into the back four. Lampard set up his side in shape and spirit to try to contain Liverpool’s inevitable pressure and his tactics worked for an hour. So did Jordan Pickford’s chronic time-wasting.

Everton were nominally 4-3-3 but in reality more 4-1-4-1. Allan anchored behind a hardworking quartet of Demarai Gray, Abdoulaye Doucouré, Alex Iwobi and Anthony Gordon with Richarlison the lone central outlet. Gordon was outstanding, constantly raiding down the left, causing Trent Alexander-Arnold problems, and ridiculously denied a penalty when clearly pushed over by Joël Matip. After he was hacked down by Alexander-Arnold at one point, Gordon’s captain Seamus Coleman ran 50 yards and repeatedly thumped the crest on Gordon’s shirt. The Kirkdale-born midfield player knew how much this meant, how they have to fight to the end to try to keep their club up. Coleman ran himself into the ground trying vainfully to keep Liverpool at bay. So did Vitaliy Mykolenko.

Origi has now scored 11 goals as a substitute in the Premier League, the outright most by a Liverpool player, overtaking Daniel Sturridge’s ten. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Origi has now scored 11 goals as a substitute in the Premier League, the outright most by a Liverpool player, overtaking Daniel Sturridge’s ten. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

They will need this commitment in every minute of every match remaining. Everton have Chelsea at Goodison Park next weekend, followed by Leicester City and Watford away, then Brentford and Crystal Palace at home and end the season with a trip to a reviving Arsenal side managed by their former player, Mikel Arteta. Everton could need ten points from those six games.

At the start, as Liverpool supporters launched into their You’ll Never Walk Alone anthem, Everton fans turned their backs. They must surely be tempted to turn their gaze away from the Premier League table. When they turned, they certainly enjoyed the resistance of their players for an hour. And the gamesmanship. Richarlison milked the impact of a stray finger from Fabinho to run down the clock. After 10 minutes. Pickford was even less subtle, turning every goalkick into an exercise in delaying.

Richarlison lashed out at Henderson. Picture: Rich Linley - CameraSport via Getty Images
Richarlison lashed out at Henderson. Picture: Rich Linley - CameraSport via Getty Images

When he eventually did get round to releasing the ball, Pickford launched a few good attacks. Gordon got ahead of Alexander-Arnold who clearly pushed him in the back, sending him tumbling towards the box. Attwell ignored the offence. Collecting another Pickford ball, Gordon then initiated contact with a rather surprised Keïta, and threw himself to the ground. Attwell noticed this offence, and rightly booked Gordon for simulation, which might have then counted against him in the Matip incident.

It was the Merseyside derby. It was never going to be a polite, peaceful affair, not with Liverpool needing to win to keep pace with Manchester City. Not with Everton fighting relegation. When Gordon ran to try to retrieve a ball, a Liverpool fan in a grey top rose, leaned forward and gave him a mouthful.

Attwell then ignored Richarlison when he stayed down on the cusp of halftime, having rolled his ankle when trying to stop Thiago Alcântara. The referee waved play on, and Lampard was incensed, pointing towards the prostrate Richarlison. Liverpool continued and Everton lost it, especially Doucouré who flew in on Fabinho. Then everyone piled in, and Mané pushed a hand into Mason Holgate’s face and could have received more than yellow.

Tempers flared from both sides during a feisty game. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Tempers flared from both sides during a feisty game. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Yet Everton’s rearguard action couldn’t last. Klopp’s substitutions worked. Mo Salah dribbled in from the right and slipped the ball to Origi, who flicked it back into his path. Salah calmly lifted the ball with his right foot over the leaping Holgate and Diogo Jota and picked out Robertson, who headed past Pickford.

Everton refused to go quietly. Gray shot wide, then Robertson rescued Liverpool, showing the attitude why Liverpool have conceded in only one of the last eight league games – in the 2-2 draw at City.

Everton felt that Matip pushed Gordon in the box but no penalty was given. Picture: Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images
Everton felt that Matip pushed Gordon in the box but no penalty was given. Picture: Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Klopp decided to close the game down with seven minutes remaining, sending on all the experience of Jordan Henderson for Jota and reverting to 4-3-3. Henderson took the armband from Virgil van Dijk and within two minutes killed the game off. Recycling the ball after a Robertson corner, Henderson lifted in a cross which Díaz met with a bicycle kick. It bounced perfectly for Origi, who reacted quicker than Keane and Dele and headed in. Origi loves playing Everton.

Match Stats. Picture: The Times and Sunday Times
Match Stats. Picture: The Times and Sunday Times

He has now scored six times in nine derbies with only Steven Gerrard (nine) scoring more in the Premier League era.

There was still time for Dele and Richarlison to be booked for kicking Henderson and for Alisson to mock Pickford by taking the ball, then falling to the ground in the manner of the Everton goalkeeper time-wasting in the first half. Everton need to react quickly otherwise their time in the elite division will be up.

Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson 7 — T Alexander-Arnold 5, J Matip 6, V van Dijk 7, A Robertson 8 — N Keïta 6 (D Origi 60min, 8), Fabinho 7, Thiago Alcântara 7 — M Salah 6, S Mané 6 (L Díaz 60, 6), D Jota 6 (J Henderson 82). Booked Alexander-Arnold, Mané.

Everton (4-5-1): J Pickford 7 — S Coleman 6, M Holgate 6, M Keane 6, V Mykolenko 6 — D Gray 5 (S Rondón), A Doucouré 6, Allan 6 (Dele Alli 73), A Iwobi 7, A Gordon 6 — Richarlison 6. Booked Gordon, Doucouré, Allan, Dele, Richarlison.

Referee S Attwell.

-The Sunday Times