If you watched the full 90+ minutes of the Merseyside Derby (and managed to continue watching) be thankful, because you might never see a crazier end to a football match—especially a Derby—in your life.
Of course, the crazy ending was only possible because of the seemingly endless frustration of the preceding 95-odd minutes. Unlike so many other recent Derbies, it was clear from the off that both sides would be fully engaged in this one. The Blues have often been content to take a beating at Anfield, so long as it had the benefit of allowing them a free shot at a Red or two, as was famously the case against Divock Origi in 2016.
That was not the case today, as the visitors showed real attacking intent. In the fourth minute Everton won a free kick out wide in the attacking third. Digne’s delivery found an offside Mina at the back post, but the lineman’s flag was never raised, and Mina’s headed effort back across the face of goal went just wide.
However, after the early scare, Liverpool turned on the press, and began counterattacking with a flair rarely seen this season. There was lots of huffing and puffing (not to mention multiple fluffed efforts from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah), and the home side could not convert this early dominance into a goal. It was the start of a very frustrating night for the Reds. It was the kind of night that started to feel like “one of those.”
After about 20 minutes of high-intensity play from both sides, Everton had yet another huge chance. In fact, it was one of those that you wonder how the hell it didn’t go in. The answer? Alisson Becker and Joe Gomez. Alisson saved a point-blank header from Gomes, and our Gomez made a goal line clearance to keep the game on level pegging.
Before the end of the half, both sides would once again call on their goalkeepers. First, some excellent interplay between Salah and Xherdan Shaqiri saw the Swiss international played through on goal. He gets away a shot with his weaker right foot, but cannot beat the on-rushing Pickford. Moments later Walcott is through on goal for Everton, but Alisson makes a fantastic tackle, nipping in front to swat the ball back into Walcott, and out for a goalkick. A millisecond later, and he’s likely given up a pen.
The first half, while eventful, remained scoreless. It appeared as if Liverpool were gaining a foothold in the match, and the second half started as the first ended, with the Reds comfortably in possession. However, like the first half, Liverpool were just missing the final ball or final shot, often by mere inches.
Mane missed a couple more good chances as the half wore on, as did Firmino. Perhaps the most frustrating moment of the half came when Salah appeared to be played through on goal, but was judged to be offside in an exceptionally close call. Multiple penalty shouts in front of the Kop went unrewarded, and it just started to feel like “one of those.”
When Klopp turned to long out-of-favor Divock Origi in the 84th minute, it seemed as if the manager was completely out of ideas. When Origi found himself two yards in front of an open net three minutes later, and only managed to hit the crossbar, it really started feeling like “one of those.”
But the reds continued pushing for a late winner, even if it felt increasingly impossible to find a break through.
And then, it happened. Somehow. It happened. What happened? The dumbest goal you’ll ever see.
Liverpool won a free kick deep in their own defensive third. A shoving match ensued as tempers boiled over, but Alisson ran over to remind his teammates that there’s still time on the clock.
Everyone pushed forward, and Alisson played the free kick up to Trent, who in turn, tries to pick out a body in a Red shirt in the crowded box. A header fell to Virgil van Dijk at the top of the box, and he decides to go for the the worldie volley for the winner. He does not score a worldie volley. Instead, he scuffs it, and it is lobbed softly goal ward. Against most goalkeepers, ones with normal-sized arms, they would have either caught it, or put it behind the crossbar to safety. Jordan Pickford doesn’t have normal-sized arms. Instead, the England international flaps helplessly at the ball that is just beyond his reach. The ball hits the top of the crossbar, and falls in front of goal, for an on-rushing Origi to head home.
Divock Origi. That Divock Origi. The one whose Liverpool career took a serious hit in this Merseyside Derby in Klopp’s first season. The one who Liverpool have been openly trying to sell for two seasons. The one who no one ever expected to see playing meaningful minutes in Red. Origi scored the winner in the Merseyside Derby in the most dramatic of fashion.
Merry Christmas, Everton.