Everton stayed ahead of local rivals Liverpool in the Premier League table as they battled to a goalless draw in an entertaining game on Sunday.
Both side’s had chances to claim all three points, Steven Gerrard going closest with a close-range effort cleared by Sylvain Distin, but in the end it was the defences who won the day at Anfield.
side that hammered Newcastle, while Darron Gibson came in for Nikica Jelavic
for the visitors.
The hosts started quickly in the
opening stages with striker Daniel Sturridge twice going close. However, it was
David Moyes’ side who had the best opportunity to take the lead after 16
minutes, Marouane Fellaini prodding narrowly wide from a Leighton Baines free-kick.
Everton appeared to be gaining a
stronger foothold in a typically fractious encounter, but they would have been
behind if not for heroic defending from Phil Jagielka, who produced a superb
block from a Gerrard shot after 31 minutes.
Gerrard curled wide from a
free-kick just a minute later, and Liverpool’s growing ascendancy was very much
apparent when Jagielka was again called into action to prevent Philippe
Coutinho from finishing off a fine move from the hosts five minutes before the
break following some neat play from Jordan Henderson and Sturridge.
Everton held on until the interval
but were instantly on the back-foot early in the second half, Sturridge
rounding Howard only to see the American pull of a good stop after the striker
had latched on to an excellent through ball from Coutinho two minutes into the second period.
Moyes’ side did have the ball in
the net when Sylvain Distin headed in a Leighton Baines corner at the
far post, only for referee Michael Oliver to chalk it off for a foul by Victor Anichebe.
That decision seemed to inspire the visitors and, although Coutinho forced a
save from Howard with a tame effort after 58 minutes, it was the Goodison Park
outfit who appeared more likely to find the opening goal.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers
responded by throwing Fabio Borini into the fray in place of midfielder Jordan
Henderson, and it was a switch that appeared to have some effect as the hosts
found fresh impetus going forward.
Coutinho fired over after 72 minutes,
but that proved to be little more than a prelude to the clearest chance of the
game when Distin cleared a goal-bound effort from a Gerrard strike after the Liverpool captain had smartly
weaved past Howard before shooting from a tight angle.
Rodgers’ men continued to press
and almost went in front when Daniel Agger headed agonisingly wide from a
Last season’s League Cup winners
clearly had the momentum and hearts were in Everton mouths once again as Borini
failed to connect with a Jose Enrique cross with the goal at his mercy.
It proved to be the last chance and the game quickly petered out, leaving both teams to settle for a draw that was, all things considered, a fair result.