Everton and Liverpool fought out a Merseyside derby deadlock at Goodison Park as Romelu Lukaku equalised Danny Ings’ opener for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Ings escaped Ross Barkley to head James Milner’s corner past a static Everton keeper Tim Howard, but the game’s outstanding performer Lukaku pounced on Emre Can’s poor clearance to level just before half-time.
Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet kept his team in contention, before Ings scored, with two magnificent saves from Steven Naismith and James McCarthy.
Everton looked the stronger and more likely winners as the game progressed, so Liverpool boss Rodgers will be satisfied to have ended with a point.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will have known this could have been a defining game in a managerial tenure that is coming under intense examination.
With Jurgen Klopp, Carlo Ancelotti and Frank de Boer all heavily linked with Anfield, Rodgers knew defeat in such a high-profile fixture against their neighbours was not an option.
He may have even hoped for victory when Ings scored, but Everton deserved their point and arguably more besides, led by the rampaging Lukaku.
It was not a result or performance that clears the clouds hanging over Rodgers but a loss could have proved final.
Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group may still study how the season is progressing during the forthcoming international break, but at least Rodgers will not have a defeat to ruminate on before their next game.
As Chelsea plunge into crisis and down to 16th place in the Premier League after the loss to Southampton at Stamford Bridge, some of their supporters may just have case an envious glance towards the performance of Romelu Lukaku.
Chelsea raked in a handsome £28m when they sold Lukaku to Everton in the summer of 2014 – but he looked worth every penny once more as he terrorised the Liverpool defence.
Lukaku left defenders Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho living on their nerves as he dominated the aerial and physical challenges, scoring a deserved goal and leading Everton’s attack.
The only problem he had was a lack of support in and around when he was winning those headers and some very mixed service – but he looked the real deal.
Lukaku’s career has, so far, been something of a tale of unfulfilled promised but at 22 he has all the weapons to develop into a world-class striker. He is now adding goals, with one here on top of his match-winning double at West Brom on Monday.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and Everton counterpart Roberto Martinez will both be desolate about the defending that led to both goals.
Ross Barkley lost Ings and Everton keeper Tim Howard was nailed to his line as the former Burnley striker headed in James Miner’s corner from five yards while Emre Can’s lashed, panicky clearance struck his own team-mate – Martin Skrtel – before bouncing invitingly for Lukaku.
Everton fielded an unfamiliar back four with John Stones and Seamus Coleman out injured and three making their first Merseyside derby starts in Brendan Galloway, Tylas Browning and £9.5m Ramiro Funes Mori.
Galloway continued, as he has done all season, to look a class act in an unfamiliar left-back role, while Funes Mori improved as the game went on alongside the immaculate Phil Jagielka, making a couple of crucial interceptions.
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