Daniel Surridge came off the bench to rescue Liverpool at the home of their neighbours Everton after Romelu Lukaku thought he had completed the turnaround.
Philippe Coutinho’s opener was cancelled out by Kevin Mirallas only for Luis Suarez to put the visitors back in front. Lukaku then bagged a brace for the hosts after the break, but Sturridge ensured the spoils were spared in a breathless and enthralling derby.
Toffees manager Roberto Martinez opted for Ross Barkley instead of Leon Osman in the advanced midfield role. This was the only alteration to the team that started the goalless draw at Crystal Palace last time out.
Reds boss Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the XI that put four past Fulham. Young Jon Flanagan played left back in the absence of Jose Enrique. Sturridge dropped to the bench after struggling with a dead leg on international duty. Joe Allen came into midfield.
Liverpool took the lead twice inside a frenetic opening 20 minutes at Goodison. First Brazilian player Coutinho lost his marker and converted at the back post when a Steven Gerrard corner was flicked on to him by Suarez. James McCarthy was caught off the post.
Moments later Everton equalised as Mirallas fired in from close range when Leighton Baines’s free kick came through to him. The hosts then almost completed the turnaround when a Steven Pienaar through-ball set Lukaku in behind the Reds defence.
Simon Mignolet thwarted his fellow Belgian, however, by coming smartly off his line to snuff out the danger. Suarez then won and scored a superb low, bending free kick and restored Liverpool’s lead. Gareth Barry conceded it cheaply and Pienaar paid the price for poor positioning after leaving a gap in the Toffees wall.
Rising Everton star Barkley then saw a low cross almost catch Mignolet out, but a dramatic, plunging stop kept the effort out. Mirallas later lashed wide for the home side and caught Suarez with a knee-high, studs showing challenge. Referee Phil Dowd booked the Belgian, but red seemed more appropriate.
Martinez lost left back Baines to a toe injury early in the second half. He picked this up before the break when Jordan Henderson accidentally trod on his England teammate, but the problem persisted. Gerard Deulofeu came on meaning the hosts had to reorganise.
The Toffees sub drew a stop from the legs of Mignolet when Glen Johnson lost possession at an attacking throw in and the Reds were caught on the counter. Allen then spurned a huge chance to seal victory for Liverpool when he side-footed wide after Suarez slalomed through the home defence.
Mignolet then thwarted Lukaku again by spreading himself well and a third time when Barkley played in the Everton striker with a wonderful through-ball. The Reds keeper even somehow stopped a deflected free kick from his fellow countryman. Everton kept the move alive though and McCarthy teed up Lukaku to finally bring them level.
This Merseyside derby became more and more open as it wore on with the hosts almost catching Liverpool cold on the counter with a four on two advantage. Rodgers’s Reds broke back, however, and Tim Howard scooped over a close range Suarez effort when Steven Gerrard crossed.
Liverpool sacrificed midfielders Allen and Lucas by throwing on Victor Moses and Sturridge. Deulofeu drew yet more stops from Mignolet as the Toffees tried to profit from Rodgers’s gamble. They did as Lukaku nodded in a near post Mirallas near post corner for his second to complete the turnaround eight minutes from time.
And still there was another twist in the tale. Reds sub Sturridge snatched a point for Rodgers’s side when he nodded in a Gerrard free kick late on. Victor Moses then almost won it for the visitors, but he headed over at close quarters when Suarez crossed for him.
Howard also palmed behind from Suarez at the death and Sturridge was rightly ruled offside when tapping in the loose ball from the resulting corner. If only every Premier League match could be like this one.
It had everything, making it gripping viewing for neutrals. Rodgers has still to win a Merseyside derby, however, and may end up losing ground on Premier League leaders Arsenal. Martinez too may suffer from this draw as Everton could finish the weekend in eighth place.
- Everton: 24 Tim Howard, 23 Seamus Coleman, 6 Phil Jagielka (c), 15 Sylvain Distin, 3 Leighton Baines (10 Gerard Deulofeu 50’), 16 James McCarthy, 18 Gareth Barry, 11 Kevin Mirallas (21 Leon Osman 88’), 20 Ross Barkley, 22 Steven Pienaar (26 John Stones 83’), 17 Romelu Lukaku 4-2-3-1
- Goals: Kevin Mirallas 8’, Romelu Lukaku 72’, 82’
- Liverpool: 22 Simon Mignolet, 2 Glen Johnson, 37 Martin Skrtel, 5 Daniel Agger, 38 Jon Flanagan, 8 Steven Gerrard (c), 21 Lucas Leiva (15 Daniel Sturridge 79’), 24 Joe Allen (12 Victor Moses 69’), 14 Jordan Henderson, 7 Luis Suarez, 10 Philippe Coutinho 4-3-3
- Goals: Philippe Coutinho 5’, Luis Suarez 18’, Daniel Sturridge 89’