EVERTON 1-3 LIVERPOOL
FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
28 December 2005 (8pm) at Goodison Park
Everton finished with nine men as Liverpool clinically won this pulsating Mersey derby.
Goals from Peter Crouch, Steven Gerrard and Djibril Cisse had Liverpool in command as they swept to their ninth successive Barclays Premiership victory.
The triumph takes them to within four points of second-placed Manchester United, with two games in hand.
Everton boss David Moyes had demanded his side "stood up to be counted" and although they produced a battling display they could not cope with Liverpool's passing superiority as they lost for the fourth successive game, conceding 13 goals in that sequence.
Referee Graham Poll sent off Phil Neville and Mikel Arteta - both for two bookable offences - as the game started running away from Everton in the second period.
The hosts made three changes from the side that lost 4-0 at Aston Villa on Boxing Day.
Out went James McFadden, Leon Osman and defender Per Kroldrup, with David Weir, Kevin Kilbane and Nuno Valente coming in as boss Moyes searched for the right formula to halt the Toffees dismal form.
Liverpool, after eight successive league victories, left John Arne Riise, Luis Garcia and Fernando Morientes on the bench and brought in Djibril Cisse up front, Stephen Warnock at full back and Mohamed Sissoko into midfield.
And they were on the offensive from the off, first Cisse hooked wide from a corner and then a fine saving tackle from Joseph Yobo halted Peter Crouch in the box.
But Everton were soon at the throats of their local rivals, Simon Davies had a shot charged down and Tony Hibbert forced Jose Reina into a plunging save from 25 yards.
The fight and desire that seems to have been lacking in Everton's play for much of the season was certainly back for the derby, as they pinned Liverpool in their last third with long throws and intense pressure on defenders.
But Liverpool hit them on the break on 11 minutes. Sissoko's header in midfield was nodded down by Cisse for Steven Gerrard's header into the path of Crouch. Nuno Valente looked to be playing him onside and the big striker took the ball round Nigel Martyn before firmly slotting the ball into the far corner.
Seven minutes later it was two. Tim Cahill's headed clearance was snapped up by Gerrard who surged forward to unleash a 20 yarder that brushed Yobo but was always on target to flash past an unsighted Martyn.
Phil Neville, playing in a central midfield role, urged on his Everton colleagues and produced one 20 yarder that was deflected wide.
They were beginning to force the errors from Liverpool, and only a couple of inches and a linesman's flag deprived James Beattie of a goal from a Tim Cahill cross. The linesman had signalled the ball was just over the line when the Australian played it in.
But Liverpool did not learn and allowed Everton to push forward, paying the price three minutes from the break.
This time Beattie's effort was allowed as Liverpool conceded their first goal in 762 Premiership minutes on 42 minutes. Kilbane and Davies worked to get the ball into the six yard box and Beattie headed it wide of Jose Reina. They were back in the game.
But after just 74 seconds of the second period, Liverpool restored their two-goal lead.
Warnock found Harry Kewell who helped a clearance down the left touchline to Cisse. The Frenchman attacked Weir on a powerful run and went round the Scot with ease before producing a stunning finish with a low sidefoot into the far corner for Liverpool's third.
Neville was booked for a foul on Sissoko and from the free kick, Gerrard saw a dipping effort clear the bar. Everton then lost Davies on 56 minutes after the Welshman was clattered by colleague Neville and despite treatment was replaced by McFadden.
Kewell was booked for dissent but when Neville caught Sissoko with another wayward attempt to get the ball, referee Poll showed him a second yellow and then a red.
Beattie was booked for a foul on Warnock before Liverpool sent on Morientes for Crouch. Everton, to their credit, still tried to make a game of it and their aerial work continued to bother Liverpool.
With 10 minutes left Riise took over from Kewell on the left flank, but Everton refused to give in and Beattie swept an effort over the top from Yobo's flick on.
Luis Garcia came on for Gerrard with six minutes left, the job now surely done.
But there was still time for Arteta to be booked for a late flick at Sami Hyypia and then sent off for a second bookable offence - a foul on Luis Garcia - in injury time.
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|Match Report filed: 28 December 2005|