James Milner starred and Daniel Sturridge scored his 50th goal for Liverpool as they eased to a 4-0 Merseyside derby win over 10-man Everton in the Premier League.
Milner delivered the assists for Liverpool’s first two goals in Wednesday’s contest, which saw Everton’s wait for a first win at Anfield since September 1999 extended.
First Milner supplied the cross for Divock Origi to open the scoring in the 43rd minute with his fifth goal in as many games in all competitions.
Milner was at the heart of things again as Mamadou Sakho made it 2-0 in first-half stoppage time, and the three points were all but sealed after Ramiro Funes Mori was shown a straight red card in the 50th minute for a dreadful challenge on Origi.
The Belgium forward had to be taken off on a stretcher but his replacement Sturridge scored a third just after the hour mark as he reached a half-century of goals in just 87 games.
More problems for the visitors came when John Stones limped off after Sturridge’s goal and Philippe Coutinho netted a well-taken fourth in the 76th minute, as the Europa League semi-finalists cut the gap to fourth-placed Arsenal to six points.
The result, as well as the loss of Funes Mori and Stones, heaped more pressure on Everton manager Roberto Martinez ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup last-four clash with Manchester United.
In typical derby fashion, the game got off to a fast and frenetic start, and Liverpool would have taken the lead in the sixth minute if it was not for Joel Robles.
The Everton goalkeeper produced a fine save to deny Adam Lallana one-on-one after the Liverpool winger had latched onto a pass from Coutinho following Bryan Oviedo’s sliced clearance.
Another chance went begging for Lallana as he headed wide from Nathaniel Clyne’s right-wing cross before Milner’s lofted pass put Roberto Firmino through on goal, but again Joel came to the rescue for Everton as he proved equal to the Brazilian’s low strike.
However, Joel was finally beaten in the 43rd minute, Origi rising highest to meet Milner’s delivery from the right with a superb header into the bottom-left corner.
On the stroke of half-time, Sakho doubled the hosts’ advantage after more excellent work from Milner.
Milner – picking up the pieces from a half-cleared corner – played a neat one-two with Lallana down the left before clipping the ball across for Sakho to head home from point-blank range, taking the former Manchester City midfielder’s assist tally to 11 for the season.
Everton midfielder Gareth Barry, having made a record-equalling 571st Premier League start, was brought off at half-time and replaced by Muhamed Besic.
But any hopes Everton had of a comeback were effectively extinguished when Funes Mori saw red for a studs-up challenge on Origi’s ankle.
Robert Madley had no hesitation in brandishing the red card and Origi’s night was brought to an end as he was carried off.
Sturridge did not take long to make his mark on Jurgen Klopp’s first derby as he collected a Lucas pass and coolly slotted into the bottom-left corner and, with Stones having left the field injured, Coutinho completed the rout in style by curling in from the edge of the area.
Key Opta stats:
– There have now been 21 red cards in the Merseyside derby in Premier League history, more than any other fixture (14 Everton, 7 Liverpool).
– Against no other side has Daniel Sturridge has scored more goals in the Premier League than he has against Everton (6).
– Liverpool have won back-to-back games at Anfield in the Premier League for the first time since May 2015.
– Liverpool are unbeaten in the last 11 Premier League Merseyside derbies (W4 D7 L0).
– Everton’s two heaviest Premier League Merseyside derby defeats have both been under Roberto Martinez and both at Anfield (4-0 in January 2014).