After The Match 


Liverpool-Everton 0-0            3.2.07                                   PL
Team: Reina, Finnan, Riise, Carragher, Agger, Alonso, Gerrard, Pennant, Bellamy, Crouch, Kuyt
Subs: Fowler (Bellamy 85)
Not used: Dudek, Hyypia, Gonzalez, Zenden
Yellow: Osman (11), Neville (73), Arteta (81)
Red: None
Referee: A Wiley
Attendance: 44,234
Shots on target: 6-2
Shots off target: 15-2
Blocked shots: 4-2
Possession: 59-41
Fouls conceded: 14-18
Corners: 6-4
Offsides: 2-2
Yellow: 0-3
Red: 0-0
HEADLINES "One team wanted
to win while one team came
not to lose."
    Rafael Benitez

0502: Why words and not actions became the great...
0502: Stevie: It felt like a defeat
0602: Rafa releases statement
0402: Evertonians will show Rafa no Mersey
0402: Everton hit back at Benitez jibe
0302: Rafa labels Everton 'a small team'
0302: Reds suffer derby day blues


Why words and not actions
became the great topic of debate

By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo

It's been more than a decade since we last had a proper spat between derby bosses.

But back then they did it with more gusto.

"Don’t ever talk about the School of Science to me again," spat Roy Evans in the winter of 1995, puncturing post-match tedium as bored hacks pondered how to make a dire 0-0 draw newsworthy.

"Sounds like someone’s dummy has come out of the pram," Joe Royle memorably countered, before both men kissed and made up.

In contrast, "small club" and "it’s nice when managers show humility" was lightweight stuff.

But you know it’s been another drab derby when the post-match comments become the most talked about issue of the day.

Rafa Benitez’s ungracious remarks were not only inaccurate, they hinted at a deep dissatisfaction with his own team’s inability to carve out more than a handful of half-chances.

Small club? Everton’s hearts were huge.

And all the big performances came from defenders.

Alan Stubbs’ selection was integral to Everton’s clean sheet. He’ll never catch Craig Bellamy in a 60-metre sprint, but when you’ve 15 years worth of top flight know-how and experience to call on, you won’t often allow yourself to be caught in a position where you need to.

He organised, cajoled and directed operations for Everton - in addition to getting his head on the end of a countless stream of long punts into the Everton penalty box.

This was perhaps the greatest source of Benitez’s frustration. Liverpool’s attacking play was one dimensional.

For 45 minutes Everton matched their neighbours in terms of possession and attacking intent.

But for the second 45 they sat back, defended and invited Liverpool to show the wit to break them down.

They failed.

Steven Gerrard endured some unsavoury chanting from the away support inside Anfield, but rarely looked like offering the perfect riposte, while Xabi Alonso’s passing was both patchy and predictable.

Out wide, John Arne Riise was comfortably shackled by the outstanding Tony Hibbert, while Leon Osman’s desire to get forward and support his lone striker handed Jermaine Pennant the freedom of the right touchline.

Only once did he fire in a cross that threatened a goal - and by that stage Liverpool’s trio of strikers had given up making runs into the six yard box.

If Everton harboured hopes of a rare double over their neighbours, the pivotal moment came as early as the 13th minute and involved - as it did last time at Goodison Park - Jamie Carragher and Andy Johnson. In September, however, it was Carragher coming back from injury earlier than was perhaps wise.

This time the roles were reversed.

Johnson was first to a ball played over the top from Cahill and managed a reasonable first touch, but Carragher effortlessly tracked his run, eased the striker towards the corner flag and then forced Johnson to run the ball harmlessly into touch.

It was a process which was repeated for all bar one moment of an uneventful afternoon, and then Pepe Reina stuck out a trailing foot to parry Johnson’s goalbound effort when he finally escaped Carragher’s clutches.

Carragher played like he had a point to prove - and he did so effectively.

But few others in the Red ranks did so.

So that peculiar prize of ‘bragging rights’ went to the Blue half of the city.

Not that either side had much to shout about.

So it was left to the managers to make the headlines . . . which is never
a good sign.

Stevie: It felt like a defeat

By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website

Steven Gerrard insists the Reds must stay positive despite admitting Saturday's draw against Everton "felt like a defeat".

The Anfield skipper says he and his teammates must not dwell on losing ground over Chelsea and Manchester United.

"At the end of the game it felt like we'd lost because we were so disappointed not to get the three points," he said.

"Credit to Everton for the way they defended, but it was clear there was only one side trying to win the game.

"You've got to try and look at the positives but when you're at home you're always looking to win.

"Normally, a draw here and there when you've had the kind of run we've had wouldn't be so bad, but we know we're playing catch up.

"Every time we let that gap get bigger, a draw feels like a defeat.

"You’ve got to say United are starting to look unstoppable, but we'll keep pushing them and the main target is to keep winning games and see where we are when they come to our place.

"Hopefully, we can still make that a really significant game when it comes along."

Rafa releases statement

By Al Campbell - LFC Online

Rafael Benitez has released a further statement after pointing out that Everton are a small team.

Benitez has been prompted to release a further statement following a day of non stop whinging by Evertonians after the Liverpool boss correctly pointed out that Everton are a small team.

"I’m not talking about them. You can only see the things that you see out on the pitch, and they were playing deep, compact, narrow, playing counter attack and trying to score from set-pieces," said Benitez.

"You can understand it because we are a top side. We were expecting them to play like that – that was the reason we played with three strikers, and also with Pennant wide.

"We tried to change things because we knew they would be playing narrow, compact and deep."

Evertonians have spent the past day and a half complaining about Benitez's remarks on phone ins and on message forums. Ironically, the only song Everton fans have is 'we don't care what the redshite say.'

Evertonians will show Rafa no Mersey


The day Liverpool managaer Rafael Benitez called Everton a small club is undoubtedly going to go down in Mersey derby folklore.

The next time Everton win one of these high-octane collisions, you can be sure the headline will be 'Not bad for a small club.'

Benitez may well now hope such an occasion does not come on his watch!

The Anfield boss may well have been suggesting that Everton's ambitions were small because of their defensive approach to this match.

But Everton did not miss a trick in claiming the high morale ground - responses from chief executive Keith Wyness and manager David Moyes saw to that - and this was an insult that will haunt Liverpool long after Benitez has returned to Spain to extend his career.

If he manages Real Madrid, would he dare call Atletico a small club? If he ends up at Barcelona, would be dismiss Espanyol in the same way?

The answer to the questions would be no, so he should not have said it about Everton. Not just in one television interview but two, and then again when given the chance to retract the remark in the media conference.

Gary Lineker, himself a former Everton player, was surprisingly dismissive on Match of the Day about the "kerfuffle on Merseyside" and gave the Spaniard the "benefit of the doubt." Evertonians elsewhere will not be as forgiving.

The uproar overshadowed a diligent, defiant Everton rearguard action in which Alan Stubbs was outstanding.

Liverpool were hounded and harassed out of their stride, and surely Benitez and the team must realise they do not have a God-given right to breeze around Anfield with time and space to win matches as they wish.

Moyes was polite, but cutting afterwards, saying: "I would not say that about any football club anywhere. I am disappointed that has been said.

"There is no doubt we are in the shadow of Liverpool, but we are doing out utmost to compete with them."

Wyness, in a considered response on the club's website, ensured that this will now become a full-blown diplomatic incident by stating: "It is disappointing to hear such an unnecessary comment at the conclusion of what was such a splendid local derby.

Everton hit back at Benitez jibe

BBC Sport Online

Everton have responded angrily to Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez branding the Toffees a "small club".

The Spaniard said after Saturday's 0-0 Merseyside derby: "When you play against the smaller teams at Anfield you know the game will be narrow."

Everton chief executive Keith Wyness responded on the club website and said: "Benitez is in a minority of one in believing Everton is a small club.

"Somehow we just expect more of a Liverpool manager."

Benitez was angry with Everton's tactics in holding the Reds to a stalemate at Anfield as Liverpool fell further behind second-placed Chelsea.

Liverpool dominated possession in the 205th derby but failed to find a way through a stubborn Everton resistance.

He said: "There was only one team that wanted to win and one team that didn't want to lose, they had nine men all the time behind the ball.

"When you play against a big club, a draw is sometimes a good result."

Everton manager David Moyes brushed off the remarks and felt his side were unlucky not to have gained their second win over their neighbours this season.

He said: "We've taken four points off Liverpool this season, so we must be doing something right.

"There's a difference of about £100m in spending between the two clubs, but we are doing our best to bridge the gap. I would have liked to come here and put on a bigger show, but it's not an easy place to get a result and we've not done bad.

"We could even have won the game with a bit more luck."

Wyness however, was not as forgiving and felt Benitez's comments were inappropriate.

He added: "It is disappointing to hear such an unnecessary comment at the conclusion of what was such a splendid local derby."

Rafa labels Everton 'a small team'


Frustrated Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez described Everton as a "small team" after seeing his side held to a 0-0 Merseyside derby draw.

Benitez, frustrated by what he perceived as negative tactics from the Blues, first said it in a TV interview, and then repeated it in the media conference.

Given the opportunity to explain he said: "After a game when a team comes to Anfield and plays a top side like that, looking for a draw, what else can you call them?"

Everton, who beat Liverpool 3-0 with a display of pace and skill at Goodison Park in September, made it four points out of six against their nearest neighbours with a performance this time of tenacity, bravery and sheer hard graft.

Those lost four points could well end Liverpool's dreams of catching Chelsea and taking the runners-up spot, but it is Benitez's perceived put-down of the men from across Stanley Park that will live longer in the memory than this match.

Benitez said: "Playing against a small team it is not always easy when they have nine men behind the ball. One team wanted to win while one team came not to lose.

"We controlled the game and had all the possession, and they had one chance from our mistake. After that we controlled everything."

The Spaniard's grasp of English may not provide him with the subtlety needed in such circumstances but Everton and their fans will be offended by the "small team" remark.

Blues chief executive Keith Wyness walked down the steps from the directors box muttering about the implied insult, and in this city with such rivalry, it was a word Everton will never let Liverpool forget.

The one Everton chance Benitez referred to came on the hour to Andrew Johnson, surprisingly fit to play after a bad ankle injury. He will be joining up with England, confirmed boss David Moyes.

He would have gone to join his England colleagues in higher spirits had he put away an effort, from a Steve Finnan error, that saw him have two shots in the box, the second superbly saved by Jose Reina.

Benitez admitted to being very disappointed with the result, saying: "We had possession, passing, three strikers and Jermaine Pennant and John Arne Riise wide to provide crosses.

"We were doing a lot of things right and were attacking all the time."

Reds suffer derby day blues

By Tom Adams - Sky Sports

Everton dented Liverpool's ambitions of catching Chelsea as they held The Reds to a 0-0 draw in the 205th Merseyside derby.

Rafa Benitez's side dominated possession and enjoyed the greater share of the chances on home turf, but their inability to break down Everton's backline saw them pass up the chance to move to within two points of Jose Mourinho's second-placed side.

Everton had been delighted to welcome Andy Johnson back from injury after a rapid recovery before the game, but their success at Anfield was built on a resolute defence which withstood sustained pressure throughout the game.

Although Everton missed out on claiming their first league double over their great rivals for the first time since the 1984/1985 season - following the memorable 3-0 win at Goodison earlier in the campaign - a point against a team boasting a record of nine wins from 10 games was still representative of a superb afternoon's work for the Blue half of Merseyside.

Rafa Benitez started with three strikers for the first time at Anfield this season, with Everton adopting a more conventional 4-5-1 formation, and the combination of the two made for a breathless opening.

Both sides of the city could have been celebrating a goal inside ten minutes, as Tony Hibbert almost marked his first appearance since October in style by thundering a shot at Jose Reina after latching onto Leon Osman's low cross in front of the Kop.

Peter Crouch went even closer immediately after, as Liverpool won a free-kick following the first flashpoint of the derby when Tim Cahill cleaned out an angry Jermaine Pennant.

Everton failed to clear the subsequent set-piece and only a fine reaction stop from Tim Howard denied Crouch as the striker acrobatically hooked the ball towards goal.

The Reds' other two forwards combined brilliantly in the left-hand channel soon after, but Craig Bellamy was given offside from Dirk Kuyt's pass before he fired the ball home from a tight angle.

When the Dutchman again teed up his colleague, with a header from Pennant's deep cross, Bellamy only had to get his head to the ball to beat Howard but somehow managed to fail to connect at all.

As the mist rolled in from the Mersey, reducing visibility somewhat, Everton looked keen to ensure that the final destination of the three points was far from transparent as Mikel Arteta's free-kick was blocked before Leon Osman saw a header from Johnson's cross claimed by Reina.

Moyes' men were well-organised and what was always a high energy affair began to suffer from a lack of quality in the latter stages of the first half, although there was precious little wrong with Xabi Alonso's vicious long range effort that stroked the top of the net.

Kuyt also saw a curling effort smartly saved by Howard as Everton frustrated their in-form local rivals with a tireless display in the first 45 minutes.

Liverpool emerged from the break doubly determined to make the breakthrough and, after Alonso saw another long range effort clasped by Howard, they almost had it when the ball fell to Jamie Carragher at the back post from a set-piece.

The defender lined up a rare shot and hammered a fine effort that was blocked by Phil Neville, suspiciously close to the Everton man's arm.

On the hour mark it was Moyes' men who should have taken the lead though, as Johnson took advantage of some sloppy play at the back to charge through on goal.

After twisting past Carragher in the box, the striker was unable to get his shot away immediately, and after dallying on the ball by the penalty spot he saw his subsequent effort saved by the outstretched legs of Reina.

Osman also powered a header just wide, but soon after normal service was resumed as Steven Gerrard lashed a free-kick inches off-target following a foul by Arteta on John Arne Riise.

The Reds continued to heap pressure on the visitors but Everton's backline refused to buckle, and Lee Carsley exemplified the effort that underpinned Everton's performance with a timely block to deny Kuyt from Bellamy's cross.

The excellent Alan Stubbs also nicked the ball off the toes of the Dutchman just as he was pulling the trigger, and Gerrard's follow-up shot was gratefully clasped by Howard as another attack failed to bear fruit.

Bentiez threw on Robbie Fowler against the team he supported as a child in the final stages, and the striker soon chested a ball through for Crouch that his attacking colleague could only steer weakly into the hands of Howard.

Liverpool's annoyance was evident when Alonso was guilty of a messy high tackle on substitute Victor Anichebe, although he escaped a caution, and their frustration was complete when the whistle blew for full time.

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