Liverpool took advantage of some woeful Everton defending, with Daniel Sturridge scoring twice
Liverpool enjoy the biggest derby win since 1982. The bragging rights in the city are theirs - oh, those Everton fans are going to be quiet at work tomorrow! The banter will be flowing! Chortle! For Liverpool, victory means that they move four points clear of Everton and three clear of Tottenham, who play Manchester City tomorrow, and six off Arsenal at the top. Let's just hope that Suarez and Sturridge are still speaking, eh? Thanks for reading. Night.
That's your lot! Scram!
90 min+3: Three minutes of woe for Everton.
89 min: Aly Cissokho reminds Michael Owen of Djimi Traore. Say what you're thinking, Michael.
86 min: Luis Alberto nicks a pass through to Moses on the left. He has players to find in the middle but decides to shoot, rattling an effort into the side-netting.
85 min: "Seems that Liverpool are better playing the fast passing than when they have time," says Paul McDevitt. "How many bad choices have they made in the second half with acres of space and time compared to the good choices in the first half with less time?" It has more to do with an understandable drop in intensity since going 4-0 up.
83 min: McGeady turns a clever pass inside Moses for Stones but the right-back can only win a corner for Everton, from which Stones nods tamely at Mignolet. This match has ended as a spectacle but it was terrific fun for Liverpool for a long time.
80 min: "I'm in Philadelphia…I thought it was snowing again, but on closer inspection it's the Sturridge penalty that's just landed in my front garden," says Justin Kavanagh. "This is NOT Anfield." Please send it back to Anfield.
79 min: Luis Alberto replaces Phillipe Coutinho.
77 min: It's not Everton's night. This move started with some fantastic work from Mirallas on the left, the Belgian somehow holding off Kelly and Gerrard with some fancy footwork and great strength, before finding McCarthy on the edge of the area. He zigzagged into the area, beating his man, and then he screwed a shot across goal, Naismith just failing to apply a decisive touch inside the six-yard box.
76 min: Everton make their final change, Aiden McGeady on for Ross Barkley. "I hate to drag the conversation back to reserve goalies, but if memory Nielsen's career was ended by a shoulder injury," says Ben Raza. "Specifically, he dislocated it when his ironing board fell out of a cupboard. It never recovered and he eventually retired. Greatest/strangest injury ever."
75 min: "What have I done?" says Paul Ewart. "I've jinxed Daniel Sturridge. Apologies to my fellow reds."
74 min: Martin Kelly replaces John Flanagan.
71 min: And with that, Sturridge, who has been as bad in the second half as he was good in the first, is removed for Victor Moses. As he goes off, with the cob on, he asks Rodgers why he was removed and is summarily told where to go by his unimpressed manager.
70 min: As bad as their defending has been, Everton have still caused a few problems for Liverpool going forward. McCarthy bursts through the middle and his low shot, though lacking pace, still has to be pushed wide by Mignolet. Corner to Everton. But that's not necessarily a good thing, because once it's cleared, Liverpool can break. And they have three on two, Coutinho skipping away with Sturridge to his left and Suarez to his right. Both passes are on and Coutinho rolls it to Sturridge. But instead of shooting, he elects to try to beat the covering Liverpool defender and score the perfect goal, only to spin around on the spot, make himself all dizzy and leave his legs in a tangle. Eventually he chips over, much to Suarez's fury. He wanted the pass. I'm not sure it was on but it doesn't stop Suarez from giving his partner an earful.
67 min: Barkley, who's admirably refused to give in, bustles past a couple of challenges on the right and his hurried cross is pushed behind by Mignolet at his near post. So he's one up on Pepe Reina in that regard.
65 min: Liverpool are going to bring out the party tricks now; Sterling tries to scoop a pass through to Suarez but Jagielka is having none of it.
62 mins: Mirallas slams a free-kick straight into the wall from 25 yards. Everton can't do anything right.
61 min: Who shall be Liverpool's Dossena tonight? Who shall really rub the salt in the Everton wounds? Aspas? Moses? Alberto? Mignolet?
60 min: Liverpool take the corner short, working the ball to Coutinho on the edge of the area. He skims a low shot to the near post and it clips the outside of the post, going wide. Liverpool get the corner, though, like they need any more help.
59 min: Everton are probably going to have someone sent off. In lieu of doing anything constructive, they're straying dangerously close to kicking anything that moves; the lumbering Alcaraz, left with twisted blood, mind and soul by Sturridge, concedes a free-kick on the right and grins. Gerrard flashes a devilish cross to the far post and Alcaraz, facing his own goal, does magnificently to turn it behind for a corner.
56 min: Sturridge's penalty has just zoomed past my office in Kings Cross, London.
55 min: Daniel Sturridge, on a hat-trick, is given penalty responsibilities by Steven Gerrard. He looks confident. He always looks confident. He begins his run up. He hits the ball. The ball goes high. The ball goes higher. It keeps going higher. It's still going! It's in Manchester! Oh Daniel! He'll not be allowed one at the World Cup now.
54 min: PENALTY TO LIVERPOOL! Another counter-attack leads to Sterling being played through on goal and he reaches it before Howard, who brings him down. Sterling was going away from goal, though, so he escapes a booking.
Told you. I'd say that Everton's humiliation is complete, but, well. In a worrying portent for the World Cup, Jagielka has been woefully exposed by Suarez here. He intercepted a stray pass on the halfway line and then motored away from Jagielka, cutting across the defender to ensure he couldn't tackle him without fouling him and he then slid a low-left footer past Howard and into the left corner. So cool.
49 min: What an impact Leon Osman is having! He drifts inside purposefully from the left and pings one to the far corner, Mignolet palming away. The problem for Everton, in their quest to avoid total humiliation, is that Luis Suarez hasn't scored yet and he will.
48 min: Everton have started strongly. Baines's cross from the left is headed to Barkley by Gerrard. Henderson blocks Barkley's effort and then Osman wins a corner on the left. Toure clears.
47 min: Everton are enjoying a spell of possession and none of their players have run into each other yet, so, progress.
46 min: Here we go again. Everton have brought on Leon Osman for Steven Pienaar.
Someone give Roberto Martinez a number for Rafael Benitez now.
45 min+3: Everton have had their chances here and there. Pienaar finds Barkley in space but he takes too much time and his shot is blocked. From there, Sterling tries to break and makes the most of a soft challenge from Barry, getting the Everton man booked.
45 min+2: Roberto Martinez is frowning. It's also raining. Poor Spanish Bob! "I don't want to jinx him, but he never misses does he?" says Paul Ewart of Daniel Sturridge. "I don't think he's missed once when one on one with the keeper this season. What a finisher!"
45 min: "That last S on the back of Stones' shirt could be a D, the way he's defending tonight," says Justin Kavanagh. There will be three minutes of stoppage time.
44 min: What a mess Everton have got themselves into. The state of their defending. I suppose it doesn't help that they're missing two of their first-choice defenders and the cover includes Alcaraz, a sterling part of the rock-solid Wigan defence that conceded 73 goals on their way to going down last season. Not that Roberto Martinez could have been expected to know that.
41 min: From which Liverpool are almost in on goal again! Sterling looks to have beaten McCarthy in a straight race for a long clearance but Martin Atkinson blows for a free-kick to Everton, ruling that Sterling had pulled McCarthy back. He didn't, though, he was simply too quick. "I disliked Sturridge so much at Chelsea," says Matt Dony. "He seemed greedy, technically lacking, and always appeared to make the wrong choice. I was disappointed when Liverpool bought him. I am now embarrassed at just how wrong I was. Not just because he's playing for a team I support, but because he has genuinely been such a joy to watch. That second goal was a thing of beauty. Daniel, I'm sorry. I'm an idiot." He's selfish but superb.
40 min: Mirallas is more or less playing Liverpool on his own. The rest of his team-mates might as well take the short trip across Stanley Park and go home. Barkley's flick releases Mirallas on the right of the area and he wriggles clear of Toure, who manages to force him wide nonetheless. He tries to turn the ball across goal but Mignolet blocks it behind for a corner. Mirallas sends it to the far post and Jagielka heads wide off Barry. Everton get another corner, though.
37 min: Phew! Some admin. Steven Pienaar has been booked for mithering at the referee about something or other.
Everton's night goes from bad to worse to execrable! What a horror show this is from them at the back, where they have been astonishingly open! This is another miserable goal to concede. Liverpool barely had to work for it at all. Kolo Toure just lumped a hopeful ball forward, one straight out of the Brendan manual of smooth passing football, but it caught the Everton defence cold and found Sturridge clean through on goal. Howard charged out to confront him and he still had a lot to do, as he was facing away from goal and was around 20 yards out. But as Howard came to meet him Sturridge hooked a lob brilliantly over the stranded goalkeeper, the ball bouncing into the gaping net! Oh Everton!
Goals do not come much more simple than this. From an apparently harmless position near the right flank, Everton were suddenly sliced apart by pass inside to Coutinho, who had so much space to attack in between the lines. How ragged were Everton here? Very ragged. So ragged that Coutinho was able to slide Sturridge in on the left - Stones was still sauntering back from the last attack - and the striker clipped a confident finish high over Howard for his 15th goal of the season! He glares at the Everton fans.
32 min: Mirallas goes close again, whiskering a low shot inches wide from 25 yards. I thought that was in. So did most of Anfield. But it wasn't, which proves costly, because...
31 min: Mirallas has been Everton's biggest threat - along with Barkley - and has almost created the equaliser here. He diddled inside from the right, no Liverpool player bothering to stop his run towards goal. He overran the ball but it rolled to Jagielka, whose firm drive from 18 yards was palmed out by Mignolet. The rebound fell to Barry on the left but he smacked it wide from an angle.
30 min: Everton mount their first attack for a while, Cissoko doing just about enough to stop Mirallas on the right at the expense of a corner, which is a waste of everyone's time.
29 min: It has to be said that scoring a header from a corner offers definitive proof that Steven Gerrard is the new Andrea Pirlo.
28 min: "Jorgen Nielsen was Liverpools reserve goalie at the time," says Kalle Weis Fogh. "He was supposed to come on for Westerveld, but by all then we'd used all our subs. He works for a financing company these days apparently. Still a Merseyside legend though."
27 min: Liverpool are rampant. Everton are rocking. Suarez isolates Stones on the left and then plays a simple pass to Sturridge on the edge of the area. From a standing start, he shifts the ball on to his right foot and then curls a lovely effort inches over. Howard was beaten. Sturridge is so good at getting those quick shots away.
25 min: What a terrible few minutes for Everton. They've lost a goal and they've lost their main man. Steven Naismith is on for Romelu Lukaku. What rotten luck for the visitors. Liverpool deserve to be in front, mind you.
22 min: A double blow for Everton. Not only did they concede and go behind, but they've also potentially lost Lukaku. As Liverpool celebrated, the Belgian striker was lying prone on the ground, having twisted his ankle. It seems it happened in an accidental collision with Barry, who did not enjoy the finest minute there. He's behind the goal having treatment but his night may be over.
Who else but Steven Gerrard! Liverpool lead! Luis Suarez trotted across to take the corner from the left - right in front of the Everton fans, who were giving him dog's abuse - and he whipped a firm delivery to the near post, where Gerrard raced away from Barry to bullet a header past the defender on the post, Howard not given a prayer of reaching it! Anfield goes wild. Gerrard goes wild. Everton go quiet.
21 min: More intricate, eye-of-the-needle build-up from Liverpool ends up with Suarez in possession on the left of the Everton area. Surrounded by four Everton defenders and with the ball apparently stuck underneath his feet, he still manages to get his shot away, digging it out and up. It takes a deflection and goes out for a corner, Howard unable to stop the ball from going out. Suarez goes across to take the corner, from which...
18 min: What a chance for Raheem Sterling! Sturridge volleyed a pass through to the young winger, who had the legs and pretty much every other part of his body on Alcaraz. He outpaces the Everton centre-back but Howard saves his low tap with his legs - but the flag is up for an Everton free-kick for ... I'm not sure what. Oh.
17 min: Gerrard locates row Z from 25 yards out.
16 min: There hasn't been too much goalmouth action yet - just some sighters from long range - but this is already an engrossing battle. Everton take their turn to attack and when a cross from the right is only half-cleared, the ball comes to Piennar on the edge of the area. A half-chance, but he doesn't catch his shot properly, screwing it away from goal and it's eventually hacked clear.
15 min: Sturridge's heavy touch allows Stones to stick a foot out and tackle him but who's this running on to the loose ball? It's Luis Suarez and he whips an instant shot straight at Howard from 25 yards.
14 min: Now Everton enjoy a spell of possession, which Alcaraz ruins by striding forward and knocking a supremely witless pass straight out for a goal-kick.
13 min: Liverpool's pressing game is discomforting Everton. It's in-your-face stuff played at a furious pace and Everton are having to take extreme care when they have the ball in defence.
11 min: Liverpool are starting to dominate. Sturridge cuts inside from the right and tries to bend one into the far corner. Ends up placing it straight at Howard, though, and the Everton keeper could have thrown his hat on the ball, except he's not wearing one. "Just to let everyone know, Erik Meijer can still be seen on TV, albeit in Germany on Sky Sports as a pundit during the Champions League," says Sebastian Welton. "He's quite lively in fact and has a column on their website."
8 min: Luis Suarez has been relatively quiet so far but you know that's never going to last for long. As such, he's just brought an excellent save out of Tim Howard, though Everton were their own worst enemies here. Coutinho turned a fairly useless pass over the the top. It was intended for Sturridge but wasn't good enough - only, Alcaraz made a mess of clearing it and was robbed by Sturridge, the ball falling to Suarez, whose remarkably sharp snapshot from 20 yards out was pushed behind for a corner by Howard, who had to reach very quickly. From the corner, Gerrard pulls a low ball back towards the near post but Henderson, in an acre of space, blooters over the bar, just as he did against Bournemouth on Saturday. Head over the ball, Jordan. Liverpool helped themselves to a training-ground set-piece goal at Goodison Park in November but not here.
7 min: A stoppage as Steven Pienaar receives treatment after being clattered by Flanagan. Pienaar looks to have banged his head. He'll be fine.
5 min: McCarthy hoicks a cross into the Liverpool area. The ball hangs up in the air for an age. Mignolet thinks about coming but decides better of it in the end and Lukaku, now in possession of a sensible adult haircut, ends up flicking the ball out for a goal-kick. "I have an encyclopaedic memory but even I can't remember who Neilsen was, says Paul Ewart. Nor could Gregg Bakowski when I asked him earlier. "So Gerrard continues as a regista; am I alone in thinking career defining moves are better worked out in the close season. Still, he's usually up for the derby….(I'm clutching at straws here). Whilst the comparison with Pirlo is, as has quite rightly been pointed out, risible, that with Zanetti is even worse. Unless I'm very much mistaken He prolonged his career by moving to full-back."
3 min: Now it's Liverpool's turn to threaten. Jordan Henderson finds a yard on the edge of the Everton area and lets fly but Howard is behind it all the way, diving to his left to beat his effort away. This match has already settled down, both teams seemingly intent on giving us another farcical classic.
2 min: And just like that, Everton roar up the other end, Mirallas, who's probably not going to be a popular figure with the Liverpool fans if they still have his reducer on Luis Suarez on mind, bursting up the right flank. He plays a pass inside to Barkley, who has an absurd amount of space in the middle - hello, Steven! - and he lets rip with a thunderous drive from 25 yards with his left foot, the ball whistling inches over the angle of post and bar! What a start that would have been! More of this, teams.
And we're off! Everton kick off, attacking from left to right in the first half. Liverpool are in ... you know what Liverpool are in. Everton are in ... you know what Everton are in. Liverpool are quickly on the attack, tippy-tapping the ball around the Everton area but the move breaks down after a stray pass from Coutinho, who has been below-par recently.
And here come the teams! But first, BT have ordered us to "sit back and soak up some of the atmosphere", by which they mean You'll Never Walk Alone is playing and Everton's fans are booing.
If you removed Jake Humphrey from BT's coverage and put Kris Marshall there instead, would anyone notice?
"The only thing I remember about Erik meijer was having about 10 stickers in my Panini sticker collection from," says Stuart Morphet. "1999. No swaps as everyone else had him too." Did he even exist?
"Yes, that was some 'vintage': that Houllier sure knew how to pick 'em," says my co-commentator, Lou Roper. "Here's a GH transfer XI for Rodgers to live up to: 1 Westerveld 2 Kippe 3 Xavier 4 Song 5 Ferri (starting with a flyer) 6 Traore 7 Camara 8 Diao 9 Meijer 10 Cheyrou 11 Diomede and subs: 12 Vignal 13 Arphexad 14 Sjolund 15 Diouf 16 Le Tallec."
No Heskey? No Biscan?
"More rage!" screams Lou Roper. "Aspas offers candidacy in the selection for the 2013-14 Sean Dundee Award (for useless Liverpool #9s). He also bolsters the ranks of Brendan Rodgers-preferred (or 'transfer-team', if you prefer) lightweights."
Sean Dundee? Look at the Liverpool bench in September 1999 and you'll see both Titi Camara AND Erik Meijer.
It's Lou Roper and he has the heat on already! "Whatever has Martin Kelly done wrong that he stays on the bench tonight and the unconvincing Cissokho starts (Flanagan to left-back?" he rages. " I hope, at least, that the wretched the 'services' of the wretched Aspas are not required." Well Kelly did go off on the weekend, so maybe he has a slight knock. Isn't it more likely that Flanagan will play on the right, though?
Aspas is a weird one - as is Alberto. Liverpool spent a fair chunk on them but they haven't been of much use and it's not clear what Aspas has given them that Fabio Borini, another expensive signing, didn't already offer.
Here are the teams from the last time Everton won at Anfield, Kevin Campbell scoring the winner and Steven Gerrard, Sander Westerveld and Francis Jeffers seeing red in a bad-tempered affair back in September 1999. The No1 in the charts? Eiffel's Blue (Da Be Dee). How uncanny. The current No1 is neither red nor blue-based, sadly, so I'm all outta predictions. All outta predictions over here!
Liverpool: Westerveld, Staunton, Hyypia, Carragher, Heggem, Berger, Hamann, Redknapp, Smicer, Owen, Fowler. Subs: Henchoz, Meijer, Camara, Nielsen, Gerrard.
Everton: Gerrard, Ball, Gough, Dunne, Weir, Barmby, Collins, Hutchison, Xavier, Campbell, Jeffers. Subs: Cleland, Gemmill, Ward, Johnson, Simonsen.
Here are the players still standing on Merseyside. Andrea Gerrard will be spraying passes about with impunity from central midfield. Where the ball ends up remains to be seen, though. Phil Jagielka, Ross Barkley - with the aid of a painkilling injection - and Steven Pienaar all start for Everton but there's no place for Lacina Traore on the bench.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Flanagan, Skrtel, Toure, Cissoko; Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho; Sturridge, Suarez, Sterling. Subs: Jones, Kelly, Ibe, Smith, Moses, Aspas, Alberto.
Everton: Howard, Stones, Jagielka, Alcaraz, Baines; Barry, McCarthy; Mirallas, Barkley, Pienaar; Lukaku. Subs: Robles, Hibbert, McGeady, Naismith, Gueye, Osman, Garbutt.
The man trying to keep a lid on things: Martin Atkinson.
Evening. There comes a time in any person's life when the moment has to be seized, else it'll disappear for ever. Are you going to ask her out on a date or just let the awkward silence dominate instead? Are you going to spend the day watching the whole of Breaking Bad in one sitting instead of going to work? Are you going to snatch the last piece of meat before any else at the table can jump in, the greedy gits, and leave you hungry? These are all visceral, unforgettable, life-defining experiences and most people will tell you that they have more regrets over what they chose not to do rather than any setbacks they suffered because they took a punt; faint heart never won tasty last piece of chicken at the family table, as they say. But Everton have had plenty of regrets over the past few years. For many of their supporters, the problem with David Moyes was his inability to remove the handbrake when the occasion demanded it and, as such, Everton threw away more opportunities than they will care to remember. We all know the stat about Moyes's failure to win at any of the Traditional Big Four and Everton, gripped by nerves and an inferiority complex, tended to be hopelessly negative under him at Anfield, while there was also the disappointment of throwing away a 1-0 lead against Liverpool in their FA Cup semi-final two years ago. There is more pride and joy to be had in heroic, glorious, doomed failure than in meek surrender.
It is line of thinking heartily embraced by Roberto Martinez. For him, there is nothing admirable about resigning himself to the constraints of the glass ceiling or even trying to find a small gap through which Everton might squeeze through unnoticed. No, the glass ceiling is there to be broken - preferably thanks to an endless array of intricate passing triangles in midfield and a False Nine. Martinez's Everton might yet fall short but it will not be for want of trying. You win matches by scoring goals. You score goals by being positive. You win the FA Cup with Wigan Athletic and score late winners at Manchester United by being positive. And it is easier play imaginative, attacking football if you sign imaginative, attacking footballers; in turn, those players want to play for you and people want to watch you. Everyone's happy - sometimes, even if you lose. Everton might not win at Anfield tonight for the first time since 1999 but we can be sure that will not be because they freeze.
A more likely scenario is that Everton's massive injury list will be their undoing. The desperately unlucky Bryan Oviedo became the latest to join Darron Gibson and Arouna Kone on the sidelines, while there are doubts over Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin, Seamus Coleman, Antolín Alcaraz, Steven Pienaar and Ross Barkley; their replacements do not allow Everton to play with as much fluidity or quality. Not to fear, though, for Liverpool are also beset by injuries - honestly, how are hospitals on Merseyside coping with this influx of footballers? - and could be missing seven senior players. It all means that the 222nd Merseyside derby might not be quite as barmy as the 221st back in November, when the final score of 3-3 could have been anything, such was the brilliance of the attacking and the ineptitude of the defending. Liverpool, though, will fancy their chances of extending their lead over Everton to four points, simply because they have Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in attack. Now there are two people who don't blink when a moment is there to be grabbed.
Kicking off: 8.01pm.