Liverpool have missed the chance to climb up to third in the Premier League table having been held to a 1-1 draw by Everton in the Merseyside derby at Anfield this afternoon.
The Reds dominated the contest from the very first whistle and finally broke the deadlock against an obdurate defensive display through Mohamed Salah in the closing stages of the first half.
However, the hosts failed to build on that lead despite seeing the lion’s share of possession, and Everton eventually rescued a point against the run of play when Wayne Rooney fired a penalty down the middle with just 13 minutes remaining.
Liverpool could not restore their lead in the closing stages as Everton pulled off a smash-and-grab job to maintain their unbeaten start under Sam Allardyce and deny their nearest neighbours a fourth consecutive victory.
The first twist of the afternoon came before kickoff when Jurgen Klopp surprisingly omitted the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum from his starting lineup.
The hosts should have doubled that advantage in first-half stoppage time too when Sadio Mane was played through down the left channel, but he opted to go for goal himself rather than squaring the ball to any of three teammates waiting for a tap-in, dragging a poor finish wide of the far post.
Everton’s first shot finally arrived in the second minute of first-half stoppage time when Simon Mignolet easily gathered Gylfi Sigurdsson’s tame effort, but the Toffees went into the break having seen just 20% of the ball and completed only 54 passes – six fewer than Jordan Henderson alone managed in the opening 45 minutes.
Allardyce made two changes at half time in attempt to change the pattern of the game, with Morgan Schneiderlin and Aaron Lennon replacing Tom Davies and Oumar Niasse.
It was Liverpool that made the brighter start to the half again, though, with Salah coming agonisingly close to a second within five minutes of the restart when his header bounced narrowly wide of the far post.
Salah continued to look the most likely for the home side as he ran Martina ragged, but the Premier League’s top scorer blazed a decent sight of goal well over from the edge of the box after exchanging passes with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mane from a short corner.
Mane came close to a spectacular goal of his own shortly before the hour mark when he took Salah’s cross down on his chest before attempting a bicycle kick from the edge of the box which Pickford gathered comfortably.
Joe Gomez was the next to come close for Klopp’s side as they searched for a two-goal cushion, but his header from Salah’s cross clipped the top of the net on its way over the crossbar.
The hosts were left to rue their profligacy when Everton made a rare foray forward with just under 15 minutes remaining as Dominic Calvert-Lewin collected Rooney’s pass before being bundled over by Dejan Lovren inside the penalty box, leading referee Craig Pawson to point to the spot.
Rooney stepped up on his first Merseyside derby appearance for almost 14 years and slammed his penalty down the middle for his first Everton goal against Liverpool.
Klopp brought on Coutinho in an attempt to restore his side’s lead and the Brazilian came closest with a long-range free kick which was comfortably saved by Pickford, but Everton managed to hold on for the point which lifts them back into the top half of the table.
Liverpool, meanwhile, remain in fourth having failed to capitalise on Chelsea and Arsenal both dropping points, although they have now equalled their longest-ever unbeaten streak of 15 matches against Everton.
Everton’s rearguard action was the story of the opening half an hour as they defended deep and kept Liverpool at bay, with the hosts unable to break through despite dominating possession and territory.
Liverpool’s struggles to test Jordan Pickford led to them trying their luck from range instead, but that tactic did not yield any more success with Andrew Robertson firing the most notable effort well over the crossbar.
It looked as though it might take something special to break Allardyce’s defensive tactics down, and Salah provided that with only three minutes remaining of the first half when he shrugged off Cuco Martina, dribbled past Idrissa Gueye and then curled an unstoppable effort into the top corner for his 19th of the season.