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Thursday 19 April 2018

Lukaku hails Merseyside derby as his "best experience in football"

Everton's Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match during the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park
Everton's Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the match during the Barclays Premier League match at Goodison Park

Romelu Lukaku hailed the Merseyside derby as his "best experience in club football" after a dramatic 3-3 draw at Goodison Park.

Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring for Liverpool after just five minutes but Kevin Mirallas had Everton level three minutes later before Luis Suarez restored the lead.

A second-half brace from Lukaku then looked to have handed the Toffees all three points but substitute Daniel Sturridge snatched an equaliser with a minute to go.

Lukaku has made a dramatic impact since joining Everton on loan from Chelsea in August and is clearly enjoying his time in the north west.

"The best experience I ever had in club football," he told BT Sport. "To play in such a derby is a great honour and to score two goals is great but the pity is we didn't win.

"The manager said before the that game last week that we also had a lot of chances but we had to stay positive and keep on working. That's what we did today, we did our best, especially my team-mates helped me to score two goals."

Many have questioned Jose Mourinho's decision to let the Belgian leave Stamford Bridge but Everton moved level with Chelsea after Saturday's draw and Lukaku believes Roberto Martinez's men can continue to challenge at the top.

"I'm just doing my best," he said. "I try to help my team-mates. Week after week I try to improve and to get the best out of my games and I think it's going well right now.

"This year we have a great squad to do it. We have a lot of experienced players. We have great young players also that come in and just try to come in and do their best.

"It's a great mix and hopefully we end up very high in the league."

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers felt aggrieved that Mirallas was not sent off after a challenge which left Suarez looking in considerable pain.

Referee Phil Dowd produced only a yellow card but Rodgers wanted more, and said: "I thought Mirallas should have gone, it was a really, really poor challenge.

"It would have been interesting if it was Luis Suarez that made the challenge, what the outcome would have been.

"It was nowhere near the ball, he's gone at his knee and for a period of 10 or 15 minutes after that Luis was really struggling.

"They're career-threatening challenges what we're trying to eradicate from the game.

"It was a poor, poor challenge and definitely should have been a red card."

Away from that incident, Rodgers was happy with his team's spirit as they snatched a goal at the death but felt that they should have taken the game away from Everton when they had the chance.

"Obviously it was a terrific game," he said. "I've been involved in a few of these now and obviously they're real heart-stoppers.

"We scored terrific goals, they've obviously come back well and then we're behind in the game and we show yet again our resilience and our mentality to fight back.

"We went to 2-1 and should have gone 3-1 and that probably kills the game and then we went through a spell where we couldn't keep the ball, we were too loose in possession and too easily just went along with it.

"All in all a wonderful game. When you come to one of your rivals, it's very, very important that you don't lose if you can't win.

"So we take a point and move on."

Liverpool have surprised some observers with their form this year which has seen them occupy the Champions League places for most of the season.

There are even rumblings in some quarters of a potential title bid but Rodgers is happy just to see his team keep improving.

"There's a hell of a long way to go and there are some great teams up there but I think what we're showing is that character," he said.

"When you come to a team like Everton that have got a strong home record, you've got to show that resilience and quality and we've done that today and that's a mark of a team that's going to be up there challenging.

"And at the moment that's all were trying to do, build that consistency into our game."

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