Saturday 3 December 2016

Liverpool turn up the heat on Roberto Martinez with ruthless derby victory

Published 20/04/2016 | 08:01

Daniel Sturridge scored his 50th goal for the club in the 4-0 win over Everton
Daniel Sturridge scored his 50th goal for the club in the 4-0 win over Everton

Liverpool added to the growing pressure on Everton manager Roberto Martinez with a 4-0 victory which was as embarrassing for the visitors as it was comfortable for the hosts in the 226th Merseyside derby.

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Defender Ramiro Funes Mori also added to the Spaniard's woes ahead of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United with this fixture's 21st red card in the last 47 Premier League encounters.

That was compounded by fellow centre-back John Stones limping off injured after the third goal went in. That was Daniel Sturridge's 50th goal for the club and followed two headers from Divock Origi and Mamadou Sakho just before half-time.

Philippe Coutinho's 76th-minute strike sent visiting fans heading for the exits and every 'Ole' which rang around Anfield towards the end was a dagger to the heart of Martinez and those who remained in the away end.

Sturridge, only on because Origi was carried off on a stretcher with a serious-looking ankle injury as a result of Funes Mori's stamp, became the fourth-fastest Liverpool player to his half-century by reaching the landmark in just his 87th match.

The England international's current strike-rate is better than that of Luis Suarez (91 games), John Aldridge (92), Michael Owen (93), Robbie Fowler (94), Kenny Dalglish (99) and Ian St John (111) - impressive considering the amount of time he has lost through numerous injuries.

By contrast Everton's premier striker Romelu Lukaku, included in Martinez's strongest possible line-up despite a looming Wembley date, barely had a sniff all night.

For 25 minutes Martinez's boldness appeared to be paying off but familiar weaknesses were soon exposed.

The visitors, whose longest winless run at Anfield was extended to 16 matches, were initially brighter and quicker to the ball, but unlike Borussia Dortmund a week ago they failed to take advantage of their early pressure.

Kevin Mirallas twice missed the target from good openings before Lukaku was denied by Sakho at full stretch.

Liverpool's best player during Everton's period of dominance, Adam Lallana, could curiously have had a hat-trick in the first half-hour, squandering the best chance as early as the sixth minute when he sprung the offside trap but shot straight at Joel Robles.

Everton's Gareth Barry, equalling David James' record of 571 Premier League starts, and James McCarthy appeared to have control of midfield but gradually that was wrested from them as Liverpool's relentless attacking started to take its toll.

Coutinho, who gave makeshift right-back Bryan Oviedo numerous problems, had two efforts from long distance while Brazilian compatriot Roberto Firmino was denied by Robles.

Everton's resistance finally gave way a minute before the break when Milner's hanging cross from the right to the far post saw Origi out-jump John Stones to head in his fifth goal in as many games, off his shoulder.

The Toffees' weakness has been to concede goals quickly, verging on a collapse at times, and this was exploited as Milner, this time from the left, exchanged passes with Lallana before crossing for Sakho, criminally unmarked, to power home the header.

Just when Martinez thought it could not get any worse after the break, along came Funes Mori's stamp on Origi. It resulted in the striker being carried off on a stretcher holding his head in his hands - which was also Klopp's reaction - and rightly meant the Everton man was dismissed.

The sight of the Argentina international kissing the badge on his shirt as he walked off was somewhat crass, especially with him now weakening Everton's defensive options even further for the semi-final.

Sturridge clinically dispatched Lucas Leiva's pass for the third on the hour before Stones' departure - which left midfielders McCarthy and Muhamed Besic in central defence - and Coutinho's smart finish compounded Everton's misery, a feeling experienced at Anfield all too often since 1999.

TWEET OF THE MATCH

"Out-thought, outworked, outfought, outscored. The 226th Derby." - Former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore (@StanCollymore) reflects on Liverpool's dominance.

PLAYER RATINGS

Liverpool

Simon Mignolet: 6

Nathaniel Clyne: 7

Dejan Lovren: 7

Mamadou Sakho: 8

Alberto Moreno: 7

James Milner: 8

Lucas Leiva: 7

Adam Lallana: 8

Roberto Firmino: 7

Philippe Coutinho: 7

Divock Origi: 8

Substitutes

Daniel Sturridge (on for Origi, 54): 7

Joe Allen (on for Firmino, 66): 7

Jordon Ibe (on for Milner, 80): 6

Everton

Joel Robles: 6

Bryan Oviedo: 4

John Stones: 4

Ramiro Funes Mori: 3

Leighton Baines: 5

James McCarthy: 4

Gareth Barry: 5

Aaron Lennon: 4

Ross Barkley: 6

Kevin Mirallas: 4

Romelu Lukaku: 4

Substitutes

Tom Cleverley (on for Barkley, 57): 4

Muhamed Besic (on for Barry, 46): 4

Steven Pienaar (on for Stones, 62): 4

STAR MAN

James Milner. Never the most eye-catching of players but work-rate is second-to-none and added another two assists - he is the club's best this season - to his growing tally.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Divock Origi's opening goal. From the moment the increasingly impressive Belgian out-jumped John Stones to head in just before half-time there was only likely to be one outcome.

VIEW FROM THE BENCH

Roberto Martinez cut a lonely figure on the touchline towards the end as his side just went through the motions. He was bold in sending out his strongest team but after the first 25 minutes they were never in the game and it got gradually worse. Jurgen Klopp hardly had to lift a finger against abject opponents - one of the German's quieter nights.

MOAN OF THE MATCH

Everton's performance was about as insipid as you could get despite a bright start and in no way befitting a Merseyside derby.

WHO'S UP NEXT?

Liverpool v Newcastle, Premier League, Saturday April 23

Everton v Manchester United, FA Cup, Saturday April 23

Martinez insists he will not have to get his team up for Saturday's FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United despite the crushing defeat, which he said was an "embarrassment".

He told Sky Sports 1: "It doesn't really need much motivation. Obviously we're still hurting and we're going to be hurting for a long, long time but obviously we need to react really, really quickly and prepare for the game on Saturday.

"Psychologically we're strong enough to react. And the problem is now the suspension to Ramiro, and with injuries already with Phil Jagielka in that centre-half position, and we'll have to assess John Stones.

"It's a feeling of embarrassment. We know we shouldn't have put a show on like this. Sometimes there are things in football that you can't control with events that go against you, but we brought that onto ourselves conceding those two goals in three minutes just before half-time and it's something we should be much better at.

"From that point on, the focus was having the semi-final around the corner. It's tough but we're going to face adversity as we have to do, as we always show with strong character, with strong responsibility and we're going to make sure we make up for this performance today in front of our fans at Wembley."

Man of the match Milner was delighted to see Liverpool maintain their recent momentum with the victory.

He said: "Every derby's a big game for everyone, the whole club and the fans as well. You give the fans those bragging rights when they go to work, see their friends and things like that. It was a big victory and we want to keep this momentum going that we've managed to gain over the last few weeks.

"We know we can play better than we did in the first half but we kept looking for it, we created chances and kept pushing forward. We went in at half-time up and we knew we had another gear. The important thing is we kept going second half and we knew that was important and I thought we started the second half very well and carried on from there."

Sturridge says he will be claiming Coutinho's effort as his goal, and added: "It was a great ball by Lucas for the first one and obviously Phil's shot and it's hit me so it's my goal."

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