ANFIELD ONLINE MATCH REPORT
LIVERPOOL 3-1 EVERTON
FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
Saturday 25th March 2006 (12:45) at Anfield
Liverpool established superiority over their neighbours with a Barclays Premiership double as referee Phil Dowd brandished two red cards and 10 yellows in the 203rd Mersey derby.
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard was sent off after just 18 minutes and Everton substitute Andy van der Meyde followed with 18 minutes left.
A Phil Neville own goal and strikes from Luis Garcia and Harry Kewell - the latter a cracker from 25 yards - maintained Liverpool's grip on a game which saw Tim Cahill pull one back for Everton.
But this result will be a severe embarrassment for Everton who had high hopes of European qualification after just one league defeat since Christmas, but rarely got themselves into a game that should have been theirs for the taking after Gerrard's early departure.
Everton suffered a serious pre-match blow when their playmaker Mikel Arteta was ruled out with a jarred nerve in his back.
It meant Kevin Kilbane came into midfield, while Liverpool were without full-back Djimi Traore from the side that hit seven at Birmingham in midweek, the defender suffering a thigh injury at St Andrews. But Kewell returned to the starting line-up.
Cahill and Mohamed Sissoko clashed before the Australian almost capitalised on some poor defending when he turned in the box and tested Jose Reina from eight yards.
Then James Beattie took advantage of an error from Jamie Carragher to nudge a header towards Cahill again, and this time he blasted his effort into the side netting.
David Weir flattened Luis Garcia and got a kick for his troubles, Dowd failing to get a grip of an always volatile game.
But Cahill's tackle from behind on Gerrard saw the first booking and the scene was set for a constant stream of cards.
Five minutes later Gerrard was in the book for kicking the ball into the Kop after Everton were awarded a free-kick.
A minute later Liverpool's skipper was off the pitch. His lunging tackle on Kilbane missed ball and took player and referee Dowd showed a second yellow and, with Gerrard already walking away, a red.
Xabi Alonso was next into Dowd's book for a foul on Neville on 23 minutes before football broke out and Luis Garcia curled a fine effort from the right just over Richard Wright's bar.
It did not last long. Alan Stubbs and Kewell were then hauled out of a penalty box melee awaiting a free-kick, to both be booked.
A minute from the break Liverpool found themselves ahead. Alonso's near-post corner was headed into the far side of his own net by Neville.
Liverpool would have settled for parity at the break after the previous incidents, but 99 seconds into the second period they were remarkably two goals to the good.
Reina's huge clearance down the right was flicked on by Crouch to allow Luis Garcia to clip the ball over Gary Naysmith and skip round the Scot before lifting a neat effort over Wright and into the net.
With Everton preparing to bring on three substitutes, they managed to claw a goal back on 61 minutes.
Leon Osman's corner from the left was met by a soaring Cahill, getting there ahead of Crouch, to head home off the far post. The substitutes all returned to their seats.
Dowd was kept busy booking Kilbane and Weir for fouls on Alonso and Sissoko. From the second free kick, Alonso's effort clipped the bar.
On 67 minutes two of those Everton's substitutes got onto the pitch, Duncan Ferguson replacing James McFadden and Andy van der Meyde on for Kilbane.
Wright made a fine save to his left to keep out a Kewell effort before the game was reduced to 10 aside on 72 minutes when Van der Meyde was sent off for catching Alonso in the face with his elbow as the pair contested a high ball.
Then Ferguson became their eighth yellow card when he clattered Alonso in the back just a couple of minutes after the incident that saw Van der Meyde sent off.
Sami Hyypia had a header chalked off when the linesman signalled Crouch offside on 79 minutes.
Five minutes later Liverpool sealed the points when Steve Finnan fed Kewell 25 yards out and the Australian casually launched a dipping drive into the top corner.
Neville finally found himself in the book for a foul on Luis Garcia on 85 minutes, with Stephen Warnock replacing Kewell soon after.
Tony Hibbert was also booked, for dissent, in the dying minutes.
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|Match Report filed: 25 March 2006|