Sadio Mane’s goal deep into injury time sank Everton and settled a scrappy Merseyside derby in Liverpool’s favour at Goodison Park.
The Reds’ £34m summer signing from Southampton reacted first to a loose ball after substitute Daniel Sturridge’s shot had hit the post in the fourth of eight minutes of stoppage time.
Everton, who had lost goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg to injury in the second half, have now won just one of their past 20 meetings with their local rivals.
Liverpool – who moved up to second – created the better chances, with Stekelenburg and his replacement Joel Robles saving well from Roberto Firmino.
There was a flashpoint in the second half when a dreadful tackle by Ross Barkley on Jordan Henderson sparked angry scenes and the Everton midfielder was fortunate to escape with only a yellow card from referee Mike Dean.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s celebrations at the final whistle carried an extra edge as Mane’s late strike sealed three points they desperately needed to keep in touch with Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Liverpool are six points behind Antonio Conte’s side and will surely take great satisfaction from digging out a vital victory that was based on grit rather than the flowing football that has been their trademark this season.
The hosts’ high tempo start put the Reds on the back foot but as the game went on they exerted greater control and in the end deserved the win simply for looking the more dangerous side and creating the better chances.
And once again Sturridge proved how important he can be to Klopp and Liverpool’s cause – despite being marginalised or injured for much of the season – with the run and shot that struck the post before Mane swooped to win the 227th Merseyside derby, reports the BBC.
Liverpool needed to bounce back from the stumbles of a shock 4-3 defeat at Bournemouth and a home draw against West Ham United. They have done so in style with away wins at Middlesbrough and now Everton.
Everton’s record in Merseyside derbies has been a tale of almost unbroken misery since their last win, a 2-0 win against Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool in October 2010.
There are, however, signs of improvement and they will feel unfortunate not to hold out here and concede so late on.
For the first 45 minutes they adhered to boss Ronald Koeman’s demand for a high-intensity pressing game but ran out of steam after the break, not helped by the loss of James McCarthy to injury.
Substitute Gareth Barry may still possess the old guile, but sadly for him and Everton the legs are also ageing and he was miles off the pace – though his substitute appearance did take him second behind Ryan Giggs in the list of most Premier League games played.
Everton also failed to give sufficient support to main marksman Romelu Lukaku and Koeman will surely be looking to address this problem in the January transfer window.
There are signs that the Toffees are now moving in the right direction, despite suffering their first home Premier League defeat of the season – but Koeman still has much to do.
Barkley has been the centre of much attention this season, whether as the victim of tough love from Koeman or with transfer speculation as he enters the last 18 months of his contract.
Here he was centre of attention for different reasons after a late touchline lunge on his England team-mate Henderson in the second half that was somehow only punished with a yellow card.
It led to angry exchanges between the players, and Henderson and Barkley also clashed later, the latter wisely not rising to the Liverpool captain’s bait.
Barkley’s night was summed up by a wild cross into the Gwladys Street that brought a furious response from his manager.
These are tough times for the talented 23-year-old midfielder.