Steven Gerrard produced another stunning goal to force the all Merseyside FA Cup fourth round tie to a replay.
Gerrard rescues Liverpool to set up replay
Steven Gerrard produced another stunning goal to force the all Merseyside FA Cup fourth round tie to a replay. Liverpool and Everton will be sick of the sight of each other by the end of this marathon, with the replay on Wednesday, Feb 4 at Goodison Park. These sides clashed in the Barclays Premier League last Monday with Gerrard also belting in another cracker to secure a 1-1 draw. Now with the forthcoming replay they will meet three times in 17 days, rekindling memories of the four-game cup saga they fought out over a fortnight in 1991, which Everton won in the end. The Toffees will fancy themselves again, having produced a defiant defensive display to go with their hard-earned league point on Monday. Joleon Lescott gave them a first-half lead and only the combined brilliance of Fernando Torres and Gerrard denied them victory. Suggestions that the Reds boss Rafael Benitez would undervalue the Cup and make a string of changes were unfounded. There was no Diego Cavalieri in goal, Jose Reina kept the position for his first FA Cup game since the 2006 final. Elsewhere Liverpool went for more width than in the 1-1 league draw, Ryan Babel and Alvaro Arbeloa detailed to patrol the flanks while Javier Mascherano returned to midfield and Jamie Carragher to the centre of defence. Liverpool were further boosted by the absence of the influential Mikel Arteta from the Blues ranks with bruised ribs. The hosts had started slowly in the previous game and allowed Everton a foothold in the game they never relinquished, but today they set about stamping some early authority. They pushed Everton back with sustained possession and after Steven Pienaar's theatrical collapse in the box under pressure from Arbeloa failed to win a penalty, it was Liverpool who were flooding forward. But they found their attacking waves crashing against the usual formidable rocks in Everton's defence. Lescott and Phil Jagielka were outstanding as Leon Osman and Phil Neville toiled diligently in front of them. Liverpool barely created a decent scoring chance in the opening half, and the first time Everton broke out they won a 27th-minute corner that produced a goal to stun the Kop. From Liverpool's point of view it was yet another set-piece disaster. Tim Cahill, booked early on for deliberate handball, flicked on Pienaar's corner-kick and Lescott nodded past an exposed Reina. Everton had two free headers in that set-play, and Lescott was totally unmarked six yards out.
From then until the break Everton defended deep, with great resilience and rendered Liverpool frustrated and chanceless. Torres found Jagielka no less an obstacle than seven days earlier. Xabi Alonso was booked for a foul on Pienaar and Carragher too on his way off at the break for dissent, having become increasingly annoyed with Everton's constant time-wasting. It needed something special to break Everton's iron grip, and it came from Torres and Gerrard, combining to stunning effect after 54 minutes. Torres juggled the ball and then produced a breathtaking back-heel to send the ball flying into Gerrard's path. The captain then surged into the box and drilled a shot inside Tim Howard and the near post. The American should have done far better, but he partly redeemed himself three minutes later with a miraculous save from another Gerrard drive as a revitalised Liverpool powered forward. Everton sunk even deeper into defence now, 11 men behind the ball, and after 71 minutes they took off striker Victor Anichebe and sent on midfielder Dan Gosling. Now with Cahill on his own up front, Everton had midfielders breaking from all angles, only heightened when Jack Rodwell took over from Segundo Castillo in central midfield. It gave Liverpool a real problem. They were pushing forward, and liable to be caught out by quick midfielders if their concentration dropped at the back. Pienaar was booked for a foul on Martin Skrtel, and Albert Riera came on for Babel. The action was now fast and very furious, with Dirk Kuyt wasting a good opportunity from 12 yards and Torres seeing a close-range shot deflected away by Lescott. But Everton's defence stood firm, and forced a replay they fully deserved. * PA Sport