Divock Origi finally breaks Everton’s resistance as Liverpool keep title challenge on track

Origi came off the bench to haunt Everton again

Everton may have feared the worst when they saw the No. 27 appear on the electronic board. They had denied Liverpool a shot on target, let alone a goal. Enter Divock Origi, the derby talisman, and perhaps their fate was sealed.

Within two minutes, Origi had contributed when Andy Robertson broke the deadlock. He duly added his sixth derby goal to seal Liverpool’s 12th win in 13 league games and if it was a header from half a yard, it was nonetheless typical that the scourge of Everton scored. Liverpool are now a point behind Manchester City, Everton some 50 behind their neighbours. They are second from top and third from bottom and this could be the last derby for quite some time. “Going down,” chorused the Kop, with increasing relish and regularity.

The more damaging result for Frank Lampard actually occurred at Turf Moor. Burnley’s win over Wolves plunged Everton into the relegation zone for the first time this season and, with 18 defeats in their last 25 games, they may not extricate themselves from it. They are running out of time but at least prevented greater damage to their goal difference.

Liverpool last dropped points at Anfield in October, Everton last gained one on the road in December. But for an hour, this threatened to be their most profitable trip of 2022 as negativity threatened to bring a reward. Liverpool made a slower start, certainly compared to fantastic first halves against each Manchester club and Everton could take solace from their organisation and resolve, even if Richarlison was very much a lone striker, ahead of banks of four and five, when they had just 14 percent of possession before the break. Allan, Michael Keane and Mason Holgate each completed a solitary pass but neither side had worked a goalkeeper and Richarlison had displayed the capacity to waste time and irritate Liverpool in equal measure.

A quarter of an hour into the second half, Jurgen Klopp summoned his specialist super-sub. Enter Origi, along with Luis Diaz. A couple of minutes later, Mohamed Salah exchanged passes with the Belgian and dug out a cross. Robertson arrived in the six-yard box to head in and complete a move he started. So accustomed to creating goals, Liverpool’s left-back scored one and the celebrations showed its significance.

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Thereafter, Liverpool were briefly rampant. Jordan Pickford denied Diaz. Allan cleared Joel Matip’s header off the line, but only as far as Salah, who hammered a volley over. Yet victory was not sealed until three substitutes combined. Jordan Henderson crossed, Diaz delivered a bicycle kick and Origi turned up to apply the finishing touch.

Robertson’s header eased Liverpool’s nerves

Everton can wonder what might have been in a niggly, bad-tempered affair. Certainly Trent Alexander-Arnold was fortunate to complete the game. He escaped unpunished for pushing Anthony Gordon to the ground when the winger was surging clear and again, after his fellow Liverpudlian was booked for a blatant dive, for shoving Mason Holgate in the face in the subsequent melee. He was eventually cautioned for scything down Gordon, who was in full flight.

It was a sign of the menace of the electric Gordon. He represented the major threat, while Liverpool’s willingness to commit men forward gave them space on the counter-attack. They threatened to turn limited possession into goals. Richarlison released Abdoulaye Doucoure, who scuffed a shot wide. Alex Iwobi freed Gordon, who angled his past the post. As they sought an equaliser, Demarai Gray came close with a thunderbolt. When Dele Alli delivered a menacing cross, Robertson produced a vital interception. If that suggested he would be the headline act, Origi had other ideas.

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