Premier League - Suarez controversy as Everton fight back to hold Liverpool

Premier League, Goodison Park – Everton 2 (Osman 22, Naismith 35) Liverpool 2 (Baines o.g. 14, Suarez 20)

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Premier League - Suarez controversy as Everton fight back to hold Liverpool
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Everton's English defender Phil Jagielka (L) vies with Liverpool's Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez (R) during the Premier League football match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park (AFP)

Everton came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Liverpool in a blood-and-thunder Merseyside derby in the Premier League.

Liverpool raced into a two-goal lead thanks to Luis Suarez, whose 14th-minute shot went in off Leighton Baines before a deft header soon afterwards extended the advantage.

Everton quickly fought back through Leon Osman and Steven Naismith and had the better of a second half that saw Liverpool sit deep and look for the counter attack.

Suarez thought he had won it deep in injury time but his goal was disallowed for a foul in the build-up.

A third draw on the trot puts Everton fifth after Tottenham beat Southampton, while the Reds stay in lower mid-table after Newcastle won their match against West Brom.

Merseyside derbies are always fiery affairs, and usually provide goals - and this was no exception.

Liverpool drew first blood on 14 minutes when a superb Jose Enrique cross landed at the feet of Suarez whose low shot took a huge touch off Baines to fly in.

Credit must be given to referee Andre Marriner, who twice resisted the temptation to blow for fouls as he played advantage to good effect.

Though it was later called a Baines own-goal, Suarez claimed it and dived at the feet of David Moyes in celebration, an ironic response to pre-match comments about simulation.

It was 2-0 soon after, with Suarez the bona-fide claimant as his deft header converted a fine Steven Gerrard free-kick from the right.

Most sides would be reeling at this point but Everton are made of stern stuff and within seconds they had pulled one back.

Brad Jones, continuing in place of Pepe Reina who was not deemed to be 100 per cent after a hamstring injury, punched weakly from a Baines corner, the loose ball landing at the feet of Osman who drilled home a smart finish from 18 yards.

Everton were flinging everything at Liverpool, with Kevin Mirallas both a delight and frustration as he accompanied fantastic wingplay with ugly gamesmanship as he tried to get opponents booked.

The Belgian was involved as his side drew level on 35 minutes, his initial cross accidentally hitting compatriot Marouane Fellaini, returning ahead of schedule after a knee injury.

Fellaini has been Everton’s key man this season and he showed just why, controlling it expertly before bending a wicked low ball between the centre-halves for Naismith to bury his finish.

The goal was a shade controversial as the move started from a throw-in incorrectly awarded to Everton, but Liverpool did not contest it at the time.

There was a raft of half-time substitutions as Everton replaced the injured Mirallas with Magaye Gueye, while Liverpool switched formations as Jonjo Shelvey and Sebastian Coates replaced Suso and Nuri Sahin.

Liverpool’s tactical change – a back five and two up front – made for an Everton-dominated possession statistic in the second half, as the visitors looked for quick counters.

It was no less enthralling as Raheem Sterling – lucky not to be dismissed after a series of wild challenges in the first half – missed a one-on-one as his dinked finish went well wide, to the unmarked Suarez’s distaste, while Everton felt they should have had a penalty when Baines was caught by Skrtel.

The Slovakian defender made a fantastic block on Seamus Coleman’s rasping low cross-shot, while his defensive partner Coates did likewise when Fellaini rose to head another good ball from the Irishman.

Everton were starting to dominate the business end of the pitch as well as the middle, Nikica Jelavic putting a free header wide from Baines’s whipped free-kick.

Brendan Rodgers responded by reverting to a back four as Jordan Henderson replaced Wisdom, with the England midfielder testing Tim Howard with a poor cross that almost snuck in.

The hosts continued to crank up the pressure but Liverpool had the better late chances as Jagielka blocked a goal-bound Gerrard effort, while Baines denied Suarez with a fine tackle.

There was time for some last-gasp drama too as a Gerrard free-kick deep into injury time saw Suarez bury what Liverpool believed was a winner. It was initially thought he had strayed offside but replays showed Coates fouled his marker while flicking on the initial delivery.

The flag was very late, which irked Liverpool, but it should not have stood as the Uruguay defender climbed all over Jagielka.

Everton's top-four hopes took a slight knock after yet another draw, Spurs exploiting it with a 2-1 win on the South Coast. Liverpool, meanwhile, lie five points shy of their top-six target but will be boosted by another good performance.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Luis Suarez (Liverpool): You cannot take your eye off the Uruguayan, who scored one, created another, provoked David Moyes with a cheeky celebration and could easily have been sent off for a stamp on Sylvain Distin’s ankle. Involved in almost everything and - when he plays well - worth the entrance fee alone.

PLAYER RATINGS

Everton: Howard 6, Coleman 7, Baines 7, Jagielka 6, Distin 6, Neville 6, Osman 7, Fellaini 7, Naismith 7, Mirallas 7, Jelavic 6; Subs: Oviedo 6, Gueye 6

Liverpool: Jones 5, Enrique 7, Wisdom 7, Skrtel 6, Agger 6, Gerrard 7, Allen 6, Sahin 5, Sterling 5, Suso 6, Suarez 8; Subs: Shelvey 7, Coates 6, Henderson 5

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

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