Everton 2 // Liverpool 0
Everton Cahill 34’, Arteta 50’ Man of the match Seamus Coleman (Everton)
LIVERPOOL // A few minutes before kick-off, David Moyes was invited to offer his thoughts on Liverpool.
"I can't really talk about them as we are just above them in the table," said the Everton manager.
It was precisely the sort of comment that could have backfired, but it was an early sign of the confidence coursing through Evertonian veins yesterday.
Their advantage over their neighbours was slight then, a matter of goal difference. It is three points now.
Everton have the respite that mid-table provides, the reassurance back-to-back wins give and the sense that they can put their troubled start behind them.
On the pitch, though not off it, Liverpool's difficulties intensify. A change of ownership is yet to bring about a change in fortunes.
Instead, a third week in the relegation zone is guaranteed. The gloating chants of "going down" from the Evertonians showed how the balance of power in the city has changed.
It was not merely the emphatic finishes from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta that allowed them to crow. More purposeful, more powerful, more potent, Everton were deserving winners in every respect.
"In the past we've probably lacked the quality to match Liverpool," Moyes said. "I don't think we do now. We've got players of real quality."
They provided the goals. Seamus Coleman's surging, driving run took him some 40 yards to the byline. His cut-back took a deflection off Paul Konchesky but fell invitingly for the advancing Cahill to sweep it into the roof of the net.
Then Sotirios Kyrgiakos's header fell to Arteta, whose stunning, swerving strike veered away from Jose Reina. Liverpool were rattled by the twin assault from the support and the home side.
It was a buffeting in typical Evertonian fashion, a high-intensity assault that Moyes's men specialise in.
Roy Hodgson claimed, somewhat dubiously, that Liverpool dominated the second half.
The fact remains, however, that Tim Howard was underworked in the Toffees' goal. A flicked header by Fernando Torres that he glanced over the bar and a late shot from the Spaniard that the American parried constituted their only significant efforts.
It was only a third league win in 22 encounters for Everton and Moyes grinned: "The smile's not come off my face. It's been a long time. I'm really disappointed I've not been able to win more derbies."
Winning any sort of match presents problems for Liverpool. The stated aim of a top-four finish looks awkward for a side who languish in the bottom two.
"Thirty games to go, 90 points to play for," an optimistic Hodgson summised. "We'd have to do something a bit special, I suppose."
Yesterday, Everton had the monopoly on special deeds.
• Keeper Tim Howard was confident between the Everton posts. Not greatly tested, but pulled off a fine save from Fernando Torres towards the end of the 90 minutes. B
• Defence Led by Phil Jagielka, who had surprisingly recovered from injury to play, Everton’s back four excelled – so much so that they did not give up a clear-cut chance. A
• Midfield Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill, Everton’s dynamic duo, ran the show and proved that they would fit into the midfield of any team in the Premier League. A
• Strikers Yakubu did what he does best, using his immense strength to hold the ball up and bring the midfield into play. A fine performance. B
• Manager David Moyes got his tactics spot on, while defender Seamus Coleman justified his inclusion in midfield by setting up the opener. B+
Overall Grade: B+
• Keeper Pepe Reina must wish he was back at Barcelona at the moment. Could not have stopped either goal – both were rocket shots and he was unsighted for the second. B
• Defence Woeful. Jamie Carragher was a shadow of his former self at right-back, while Sotirios Kyrgiakos, a Greek international, did not look like a Premier League player. D
• Midfield Widemen Maxi and Joe Cole were anonymous, but the biggest disappointment was Steven Gerrard, so often Liverpool’s matchwinner in derby games. C
• Strikers Yes, he was up front on his own. Yes, he is coming back from injury. But Torres was ineffective and did not appear motivated. C
• Manager Roy Hodgson has not had much time to stamp his mark, but with performances like this he may find it hard to keep his job. C
Overall Grade: C