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It is galling enough to be beaten in a derby fixture, but Everton found themselves contributing to the sort of high spirits that had been lacking at Anfield. The glee for Liverpool was enhanced by the fact that all three goals were struck by the captain Steven Gerrard. There were other causes of concern for Everton, particularly in the shape of the elusive Luis Suárez. The motivation was great for him and everyone else in the lineup as they strove to make amends for their recent shortcomings.

Anfield is a testing arena even when Liverpool are in a benign mood, but the club were bristling after three consecutive defeats in the league. There can be few better ways of relieving the frustration than by beating local rivals. Everton, all the same, are not the sort to go meekly to their fate, even if David Moyes, a few hours from the 10th anniversary of his appointment as manager, had never taken his side to victory on Liverpool’s ground.

The prospects did not seem to have improved for him as the home side opened with vigour, moreover. Suárez had, for instance, released Gerrard into the left of the penalty area as early as the seventh minute, with Tim Howard needing to make a good save. In addition to local rivalry, Liverpool were driven on by a desire to reassert themselves, even if the opener by Gerrard was delayed until the 34th minute.

Tim Howard blocked a shot by the overlapping Martin Kelly and the right-back’s efforts to win back possession saw the ball run to Gerrard, whose composure was as refined as his technique. The delicate finish with his left foot was floated high into the net. It was the type of achievement the club have been craving of late.

Given the losses endured since taking the Carling Cup, they were even less mellow than usual, but this was a contest that did encourage optimism for Kenny Dalglish’s squad. Although Liverpool’s campaign in the league has been undermined by eight draws at Anfield, Everton had not pulled off a victory at this ground since September 1999.

That record speaks of the firepower that Liverpool can generally afford, but there has not been much verve in the recent, troubling weeks. A derby was therefore all the more welcome since it is a micro-climate, detached from the football environment at large.

Liverpool were not guaranteed to dominate an Everton side galvanised by Saturday’s defeat of Tottenham Hotspur. The visitors, all the same, took a limited interest in continuity and the half-dozen alterations to the lineup saw Nikica Jelavic, the scorer of the only goal against Spurs, on the bench, possibly because Moyes placed a higher priority on Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final with Sunderland. Denis Stracqualursi started in his place. Even so the inclusion of Phil Jagielka and Jack Rodwell for their first starts since January did not necessarily smack of defeatism.

It was, as expected, Liverpool who initially looked as if they had the necessary firepower. Everton are accustomed to putting up sustained resistance and the pressure did not cause them to become flustered.

As the game got closer to the half-hour mark, Everton had a period of pressure that arose from the commitment to send men forward in numbers. Suárez, on the counter-attack, was thwarted both by Tony Hibbert’s tackle and an offside decision, but some of the rigour had gone out of Everton. It was not necessarily a coincidence that the visitors should fall behind just when they had begun attacking with gusto.

Whatever the limits to their technique, Everton do not suffer from any lack of spirit and the second half began with a period of pressure. Even so, Liverpool were not in jeopardy and, indeed, had the poise to strike again as Gerrard notched a second goal, in the 51st minute.

Suárez eluded Sylvain Distin on the right but before he could let fly Gerrard stepped in to crash home a drive. Anfield bubbled with a delight that owed as much to the upsurge of form as to the woes being inflicted on Moyes and his men.

There was no immediate intent either to let the game fall quiet. Liverpool, after the difficulties encountered of late, relished the score yet Everton are never deterred and had enough pride to push towards the opposition’s penalty area.

Harming the opposition even to a minor extent still looked beyond them, but Moyes was intent on affecting events somehow or other. Jelavic was introduced along with Leon Osman and Royston Drenthe with 28 minutes to go. The lineup was fresher as a consequence, but the match had been lost by then, Gerrard underlining Liverpool’s dominance with his and their third in injury time, after being set up by Suárez.

Source: Guardian

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