EPL: Everton v Liverpool, Goodison Park, 12.45BST, 1/10/11 (0-2)

A deserved Mersey derby win in the end was ours, but the victory was undermined by the fact that the referree made a decision, mid-way through the first half, that saw an even game turn gradually in our favour, as Jack Rodwell was shown a red card for a tackle where he took the ball, but where his follow-through caught the man – Luis Suarez.

30 years ago, it would not have been a foul. Twenty years ago it might have been. These days, the climate is such that as well as being regarded as potentially dangerous, it may also have warranted a yellow card…but a red? Rodwell – and Everton – were very unlucky. And so the game changed from even to not.

And then The Ref started letting worse Everton tackles go with either lesser or no punishment.

Cahill was rightly booked almost immediately afterwards for a tackle on Charlie Adam, but it was was far worse than Rodwell’s, so the right decision here made the earlier one stand out more as the inconsistent one, but the ref did nothing when what looked like a red-card tackle came in from Tony Hibbert onto Adam again.

Adam’s response was to shortly after that hit a rasper against the bar. It was his most notable contribution before making way for Gerrard, in the second half, as The Skipper continued his return to match fitness with a half-hour run-out, where his passing skills were immediately noticeable, after their absence.

But it was another incident at the end of the first half that could have been match defining. Suarez received the ball just inside the corner of the Everton penalty box and had his legs taken by Jagielka, in a rash challenge that gave us a clear penalty. Kuyt took it and placed it nice and low to his right – and Howard’s left – but the big American guessed right and got down to it and pushed it away, with a very impressive save that saw us at the break still at 0-0.

As we continued to press our one-man advantage in the second half, Everton was holding out. A change was needed and mid-way through the second half, it came. Adam was within himself, perhaps understandable after the challenges he received, but Downing was disappointingly ineffective on the left, so as Adam was replaced by Gerrard, Downing made way for Bellamy. The impact was almost immediate.

Bellamy and Jose Enrique’s interplay enabled a Bellamy pass to reach the goal line, where The Spanish defender turned the ball back towards Dirk Kuyt, who managed to duck beneath the pass, to allow the ball to come to Andy Carroll, wo had pushed off his marker and made the space for himself in the middle of the penalty box to smash the ball home. It looked like a move from the training ground that had gone to plan.

Everton had not looked like scoring since Rodwell’s dismissal, and looked to settle for a 0-1 score line, but several minutes from the end, a run into the box by Suarez saw Baines take the ball, but his proximity to Distin led to the latter defender’s attempt to clear the ball merely give the ball back to Suarez with just the keeper to beat from close range…which Suarez did for 0-2.

There was time still for the ball to hit the Everton goal frame and bounce away again. It initially looked like Kuyt had nipped-in and touched the ball past Howerd from a dinked-in corner kick by Suarez, but replays show that Jagielka took the ball away from Kuyt, nearly scoring an own-goal in the process.

We could have come away with this result without Rodwell being sent off, but it would certainly have been much harder to achieve.

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