A four-goal winning margin is unheard of in the Merseyside derby. It is largely known to be a tactical match, and fiercely contested. However, Tuesday night was another story as Liverpool completely tore the history books apart and their rivals across Stanley Park in emphatic fashion to secure their biggest derby victory since 1982.
It was a master class in counter-attacking football, made to look better by Everton's dreadful defending as a Steven Gerrard header and a brace and goal from Daniel Sturridge, who also missed a penalty, and Luis Suarez secured the coveted bragging rights at Anfield as Liverpool crudely took advantage of Everton's naive defensive yield.
Steven Gerrard, the man for the big occasion, stepped up and excellently headed in Suarez's inviting corner delivery after the England skipper lost Gareth Barry to head home. It was the 33 year-old's eighth goal in the Merseyside derby, the most scored by a player in the historic city derby. As if to accentuate Everton's misery, Lukaku sustained an ankle injury after colliding with Barry as Liverpool took the lead and could face a spell on the sidelines.
It was then two goals in two goals, both scored by Sturridge, in the space of three minutes to cap off a scintillating first-half performance from the home side.The England striker clinically finished an intelligent Coutinho pass before chipping the on-rushing Tim Howard. The goals completely summed up Everton on the night as Martinez's side produced an embarrassing and atrocious defensive display. Their ineptitude to contend with hopeful, long balls, as made by Aly Cissokho, emphasised the importance of Seamus Coleman and Sylvain Distin, who were replaced by John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz in their absences to form a somewhat make-shift back-line. With Coleman and Distin, it was a back-line which was consistently reliable and had consequently boasted the second-best defensive record in the Premier League. That impressive defence was interrupted by injuries and a rampant Liverpool side showed them no mercy as they raced into a three-goal lead at half-time.
Things went from bad to worse for Roberto Martinez's side after Luis Suarez cashed in on Phil Jagielka's disinclined error to score his 23rd goal of the campaign. The English defender lacked the required pace to draw level with the Uruguayan striker, who he is set to face in this summer's World Cup, and Suarez finished excellently to put Liverpool four-nil ahead in the 190th league meeting between the sides.
Daniel Sturridge's misplaced penalty formed part of the 24 year-old mixed evening after a touchline confrontation with manager Brendan Rodgers marred what was a brilliant display of attacking prowess from the England forward. He did not appear impressed by Rodgers's decision to thwart his shot at a hat-rick following an exchange of views between himself and strike partner Suarez, who was not amused by Sturridge's desire for the historic hat-rick. Nonetheless, Rodgers defended his substitution, saying:
“It wasn’t a difficult decision to take him off,” he said. “His two finishes were sublime and he was outstanding. He always looks a threat and looks like he could score whenever he plays but I wanted to shore the game up.
“I think he was still frustrated after the penalty and he apologised to the group. We have to show respect. If the manager decides to take you off, sometimes it’s tactical or because of injury.
“Whatever it is you sit down and if you want an answer knock on the door in the next days and we’ll talk about it. He was just frustrated.”