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Liverpool FC 1 Everton FC 0 - Dirk Kuyt's goal the difference for Reds amid red mist

Dirk Kuyt scores for Liverpool against Everton

TWO red cards, seven yellows and bags of controversy – the 213th Merseyside derby certainly lived up to its billing.

Dirk Kuyt’s second-half header was enough to secure Liverpool a priceless victory in their pursuit of Champions League qualification and complete the league double over their neighbours from across Stanley Park.

The Reds overcame the sending off of Sotirios Kyrgiakos for a two footed lunge on Marouane Fellaini before the break with a performance full of grit and character.

Kuyt broke the deadlock when he nodded home Steven Gerrard’s corner and they endured few scares as Everton failed to make their numerical advantage count.

The visitors’ frustration boiled over in stoppage time when Steven Pienaar was given a second yellow card for a foul on Gerrard.

The Blues haven’t won at Anfield since 1999 when Kevin Campbell got the winner and they will be kicking themselves about this missed opportunity to end that barren run.

Defeat for David Moyes’ side ended a nine-match unbeaten league run stretching back to the 2-0 derby setback the Reds inflicted at Goodison back in November.

Both managers had pleaded for cool heads in the build up to this game but their words fell on deaf ears.

Jamie Carragher made his intentions clear inside the opening seconds with a crunching tackle on Pienaar.

It set the tone for a predictably frenetic contest with the Reds dominating possession early on and looking the more likely to break the deadlock.

Inside three minutes Gerrard burst down the left before being upended by Phil Neville on the edge of the box.

The Reds skipper picked himself up and from an acute angle unleashed a curling free-kick which was beaten away by Tim Howard. It dropped kindly to Emiliano Insua but he lashed the rebound over.

The Reds continued to threaten with Daniel Agger firing over after the Blues had failed to deal with Gerrard’s corner.

Both sides had half hearted appeals for a penalty waved away. First Kuyt’s shot appeared to strike Pienaar’s arm, while at the other end Sylvain Distin claimed he was shoved to the ground by David Ngog.

The tackles flew in with Tim Cahill and Javier Mascherano both fortunate to avoid punishment before referee Martin Atkinson finally reached for his notebook after 20 minutes.

Kuyt was yellow carded after bringing down Landon Donovan 25 yards out and from the ensuing free-kick Pepe Reina had to tip over Leighton Baines’ effort.

Liverpool were left fuming moments later after Kuyt and Fellaini clashed.

Kuyt was brought down by Pienaar and as he lay on the ground Fellaini’s boot caught him in the head.

The Dutchman was incensed but Atkinson took no action against the Blues midfielder.

Pienaar was cautioned for a foul on Mascherano soon after and then Carragher followed him into the book for chopping down the South African.

Just past the half hour mark the Reds counter attacked to good effect with Rodriguez and Gerrard combining to tee up Ngog. However, the young French striker dragged his shot wide from the edge of the box.

Everton grew in confidence as the half progressed and Reina had to be alert to race off his line and deny Louis Saha.

Tempers continued to be frayed and the contest boiled over 12 minutes before the break.

Kyrgiakos’ two-footed challenge on Fellaini was deemed dangerous by Atkinson and after a lengthy stoppage the Greek centre-back got his marching orders.

In truth Fellaini could also have seen red for his part in the crunching 50-50 tackle but he escaped without a card. Fellaini was stretchered off and after lengthy treatment was finally replaced by Mikel Arteta.

The sending off forced Liverpool into a reshuffle with Carragher moving to the centre of defence and Mascherano shifted from midfield to right-back.

Both sides went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock just before the interval. Gerrard’s curling free-kick clipped the top of the bar, while at the other end Cahill missed a glorious chance when he nodded over after Mascherano’s misplaced defensive header had set him up.

Cahill went close again early in the second half but despite being down to 10 men it was Liverpool who posed the greater attacking threat.

Ngog was thwarted by Distin’s block before the deadlock was finally broken in the 55th minute.

Gerrard swung a corner into the six-yard box and Kuyt made the most of some woeful marking to nod past Howard. Anfield erupted and the Dutchman raced away to celebrate with his skipper.

Kuyt epitomised the Reds’ tireless work rate as moments later he produced a crucial defensive header at the back post to clear Donovan’s dangerous cross.

John Heitinga was booked for tripping Rodriguez as the Blues struggled to muster a response to Kuyt’s goal.

The visitors looked short on attacking ideas and with 18 minutes to go manager David Moyes went for broke as he introduced strikers Victor Anichebe and Yakubu in place of Osman and Saha.

Ryan Babel had replaced Ngog but the substitute, playing as a lone frontman, struggled to hold the ball up and in the closing stages the Blues dominated possession.

With six minutes to go Atkinson had his hands full again. In clearing the ball Gerrard’s boot caught Pienaar and a melee ensued.

When order was restored Atkinson dished out yellows to Gerrard and Anichebe.

The Reds defended bravely with Carragher starring at the heart of a gutsy rearguard effort.

In the 89th minute Yakubu let fly from 25 yards out and Reina was forced to tip his effort over the bar.

Five minutes of stoppage time gave Evertonians hope and Anichebe almost rescued a point.

The substitute burst clear in the box but Lucas and Reina combined to deny him.

When Pienaar picked up a second yellow for his barge on Gerrard the Blues’ misery was complete. Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Agger, Kyrgiakos, Insua, Kuyt (Skrtel 90), Lucas, Mascherano, Rodriguez (Aurelio 90), Gerrard, Ngog (Babel 63). Everton: Howard, Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines, Donovan, Fellaini (Arteta 40), Osman (Yakubu 72), Pienaar, Cahill, Saha (Anichebe 72). Referee: Martin Atkinson Attendance: 44,316


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