Top five Merseyside derbies of the last 20 years
And you’ll never walk to the theme tune from Z Cars
In the last five seasons alone, matches between Liverpool and Everton have produced 25 goals, ten red cards and five goals in the last five minutes of games. Today we look forward to tomorrow’s derby by looking back at some of the best since 1990:
5. Everton 2-3 Liverpool – 2001
This was a match of two Gerrards and a Gerard. Firstly, Houllier chose to leave Steven on the bench with a Champions League tie against Barcelona to consider,leaving 36-year old Gary McAllister in central midfield. The Scottish veteran then beat our third Gerrard, Paul, with a 40 yard free kick in the dying minutes. This followed goals from Babbel, Heskey, Ferguson and Unsworth. In true derby fashion. Unsworth’s goal was a penalty and Igor Biscan got himself sent off.
4. Everton 3-0 Liverpool – 2006
Even four years later, this is still the match that Everton fans point to when describing their respect and admiration of David Moyes. His side dominated a first half in which Tim Cahill and Andy Johnson were able to score. At half time all of Goodison knew that Liverpool would respond, but Lescott and Yobo diligently kept them at bay. In the final few minutes, Pepe Reina’s spill allowed Andy Johnson to score again and put Everton briefly top of the league. It was their biggest derby win in 42 years.
3. Everton 2-0 Liverpool – 1994
In terms of a spectacle, this would not trouble the top twenty, but for Goodison importance alone, makes the top three. This was Joe Royle’s first game in charge after replacing a sacked Mike Walker, with Everton bottom of the league after thirteen games.
The visit of Liverpool and new manager syndrome roused the players as they comfortably brushed aside their neighbours. Duncan Ferguson scored his first goal for the club, before Paul Rideout megged David James to give the Toffeemen the win.
Everton used this springboard to not only survive relegation, but also win the FA Cup, beating Manchester United in the final. Joe Royle’s greatest season as a manager was confirmed.
2. Everton 1-2 Liverpool – 2007
The most controversial derby in years.
A Sami Hyypia own goal had given Everton a half-time lead, but few inside Goodison Park could have predicted the disaster that was to follow. Ten minutes into the second half Tony Hibbert brought down Gerrard. The sending-off that followed was harsh, and only followed a consultation between referee Mark Clattenburg and the felled Liverpool captain. Dirk Kuyt dispatched the resulting penalty as the Everton fans voiced disapproval.
Then, Rafa Benitez risked the wrath of the away support when he removed Gerrard with twenty minutes left, replaced by the oft ineffective Lucas. The reaction of the fans matched that of Gerrard: bemusement, confusion and anger.
Benitez got lucky however, as in the last minute of injury time Phil Neville handled a shot from Lucas on the line. A second red card and second Dirk Kuyt penalty gave the red half of Merseyside the win.
1. Everton 4-4 Liverpool – 1991
Forget the top Merseyside derbies, this was one of the best domestic games of the last twenty years full stop, matching the tired old cliché that ‘the game had everything’.
For Liverpool, Peter Beardsley scored twice, John Barnes scored a wonderful curled goal and Ian Rush scored an inevitable derby goal. But Everton were tough. Four times behind over 120 minutes of this FA Cup tie, and four times able to peg back, with Tony Cottee coming off the bench to score twice.
Harry Harris, famous Daily Mirror journalist wrote:
“It was a privilege to have been present at a game that lifts British football apart from any of the fancy versions on the continent.”
Sort of said it all.