In a game that was crying out for a moment of inspiration, who else would step in and provide that, but Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool boy, the Liverpool captain, the Liverpool legend with a swirling freekick from 20 yards thumped into the top corner.
That goal seemed like it would be enough for Liverpool to see off Everton in a neither-side-really-showed-enough-quality-going-forward Merseyside Derby of the English Premier League, but then in came Phil Jagielka, Everton’s own skipper and talisman to score the most unbelievable of equalisers you are likely to see this entire season.
Desperate for an equaliser, and looking bereft of ideas, Jagielka decided to unleash a thunderbolt, which even Thor would have been proud of, to ensure the match would end 1-1.
Daniel Sturridge could not make it to the squad, let alone the starting lineup, for Liverpool, which meant the goalscoring mantle had to be taken up by Mario Balotelli again, and the striker would have fancied his chances seeing Everton’s backline shaken up a little with the absence of Sylvain Distin and Seamus Coleman.
Liverpool did go for the jugular right from the off, as they always seem to do, putting the pressure on the Everton defence with their quick play, with the pace of the match in the first 10-15 minutes enough to give you a rush of the highest order.
Amidst all that quick-pace-let’s-see-who-scores-first-football, there were a couple of really good penalty shouts, one each for either team. The first came Everton’s way with Romelu Lukaku, starting on the right again to take on Alberto Moreno, going under a clumsy little challenge from the Liverpool left-back.
Referee Martin Atkinson, who did not have the clearest of views, waved play on after the assistant referee also decided to overlook the challenge, and, a little after, at the other end, Liverpool were shouting for a penalty, with Raheem Sterling’s effort from outside the box striking Gareth Barry’s raised arms. Atkinson, though, again was unmoved.
Liverpool kept pressing Everton’s midfield, with Barry, so comfortable and neat on the ball usually, having a bit of a nightmare first half, courtesy wayward tackles and silly giveaways putting his team under pressure on quite a few occasions.
For all of Liverpool’s pressure, though, the goal never really looked like coming, with Balotelli, that new blonde hairstyle and pulling out more theatrics than the most theatrical of divas, peppering the Everton goal with shots every time he even came close to the ball, without really troubling Tim Howard.
Everton, more pondering and slow in their build-ups in an attempt to quell the Liverpool fire, also had a couple of half-sniffs, but that goal eluded them, with the game’s best chance falling to probably the best player on the pitch in the first half – Adam Lallana.
The Liverpool midfielder, a Merseyside Derby rookie, was given a clear header from a corner, after Tony Hibbert let him go, but his effort was well kept out by Howard diving low to his right.
The second half saw Liverpool start with a little more control, even if the chances were still very much at a premium.
The longer the match went, the more obvious it became that it would take a moment of “boy do we miss Luis Suarez, but we need that kind of genius” to find that opening goal, and in stepped Liverpool’s talisman, like only he can.
Balotelli, to his credit, won the freekick just outside the Everton box, and Gerrard, who had let his striker take a couple of setpieces in the first half, stepped up, curled one delightfully over the ball and through Howard’s left hand.
Everton nearly answered back immediately, but Lukaku failed to make a connection with a ball over the top, while, soon after, at the other end, Balotelli struck the crossbar from six yards out, when he really should have put the game to bed.
The Toffees, though, just looked out of gas in the final 15 minutes, unable to muster up a real reply, as Liverpool slowed the game down pretty well, keeping possession to allow that time to cross 90 plus stoppage time.
However, injury time is when the real drama happens isn’t it, and what drama was witnessed at Anfield as Jagielka latched onto a clearance from Dejan Lovren to thump the most sweetest of half volleys with the outside of his right boot from nearly 30 yards, which just kept curling away from Simon Mignolet before banging into the top corner.