Everton ensured Manchester City remained top of the Premier League as they produced a battling performance to hold Liverpool to a goalless draw at Goodison Park.
Liverpool needed victory to leapfrog City after their win at Bournemouth but Jurgen Klopp’s side lacked the cutting edge to break the deadlock in a tense Merseyside derby.
Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, the villain when Divock Origi scored Liverpool’s 96th-minute winner at Anfield in December, was the hero with a brilliant first-half save from Mohamed Salah, who was denied by a superb last-ditch challenge from Michael Keane after the break.
Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson was rarely troubled apart from a diving save from Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s header and while the title chasers created the better opportunities, they were frustrated – as they were against Manchester United at Old Trafford a week ago.
Manchester City now stand a point clear with nine games remaining, while Everton stay 10th.
Everton followed Manchester United’s lead in simply refusing to let Liverpool’s much-vaunted attack pass.
Klopp’s side created more opportunities and looked the more likely winners but the cutting edge was missing, with Salah the main culprit.
The Egyptian looked back to his best in Liverpool’s 5-0 win against Watford on Wednesday but here he was short of his best, denied by Pickford in the first half and then hesitating just long enough to allow Keane to make that outstanding late intervention.
Liverpool created a few scrambles to play on Goodison Park’s nerves as the seconds ticked down but they could not make the breakthrough they needed.
Manager Klopp looked happy enough at the final whistle but Liverpool were pressed into mistakes with misplaced passes and too many attacks just fizzling out.
They are right in this title hunt but this was a long way from their best and it is the first time since 7 December that they have not been top of the table having played the same number of games as Manchester City.
Everton’s supporters relished the final whistle and putting a dent, albeit a small one, in Liverpool’s title aspirations as they taunted their counterparts from across Stanley Park.
And this was an occasion when Goodison Park was at its atmospheric best, an air raid siren blaring around the stadium before kick-off and the traditional playing of Z Cars.
Everton were badly wounded by what happened at Anfield earlier this season when they lost so late and while there was almost an air of panic about some of their passing, their threat grew as the game went on.
Marco Silva’s defence, so often criticised this season, stood firm, helped by Pickford, and this may well have been defender Keane’s best game for the club since his £30m move from Burnley in summer 2017.
Everton still lack a serious threat up front but what their fans demanded here was a ‘bodies on the line’ attitude to keep Liverpool out. They got that and more.
Silva waved his appreciation to Everton’s fans at the final whistle and they certainly appreciated the good signs they saw.
The trick for Everton is too repeat this effort and application on a regular basis, not simply when presented with the opportunity to inflict some damage on Liverpool.
The occasional rousing of the spirits is not enough. Consistency must be found.
This performance, and result, was certainly enough to keep Silva and Everton’s fans happy.— BBC Sport