Everton 1 Liverpool 4: Mo Salah double helps rampant Reds dominate Merseyside derby and pile on misery for Rafa Benitez
1st December 2021

HUMBLED on home soil.

Battered, bruised, embarrassed.

So-called rivals now further apart than the banks of the Mersey.

And if this proves to be Rafa Benitez’ last Everton stand, nobody should be too surprised.

Not since 1982, when Ian Rush netted four, have the Liverpool fans – gleefully and mockingly singing Benitez’ name – enjoyed such a romp on Everton soil.

Four more goals, including two from Mo Salah, three more points for Jurgen Klopp. 

It could, easily, have been far heavier, too, a gulf in class and quality from first minute to last.

Early left foot specials from Jordan Henderson and Salah – the Egyptian curling home the 500th Prem goal of the Klopp era – signaled Liverpool’s utter domination.


Demarai Gray did stride in to plant home a reply, a potential rallying point.

Yet any hopes of a comeback were ended as an Everton corner ended in a catalogue of errors and a simple finish by Salah, for his 19th of the season ALREADY, before Diogo Jota struck the final blow.

Where Liverpool have now scored two or more in their last 18 matches in all competitions, Everton have just two points from their last eight matches.

That is, by any metric, relegation form.

Not what was anticipated by the Goodison faithful, or what they were promised when Benitez was handed the reins.

And while the attention has been on the problems of Rafa the gaffer’s former club Newcastle – where some still pine for his return – the issues closer to home for the Spaniard are becoming very real.

Indeed, despite a brief flurry either side of Gray’s goal, this was another 90-minute example of the scale of the mess Everton are in.

Everton came into the match with their fans in disarray.

They started it with the defence even more out of kilter. And ended it with everybody angry.

Chaos was clear inside the first 60 seconds, with Seamus Coleman blowing his stack at Jordan Pickford for not coming to collect when the skipper was under pressure from Sadio Mane.

Yet that was a symptom of the disease that possessed the entire Everton defence.

Pickford’s guardsmen were absent without leave from the resulting Trent Alexander-Arnold corner, escaping as the untenanted Joel Matip nodded wide.

Seconds later, Andros Townsend was thankful for more wastefulness as he passed straight to Diogo Jota.

The Portuguese, out on the left, delivered four yards out, the goal begging – only for Salah to prod over the gaping target.

Pickford saved smartly down to his right to foil Salah, who had been fed by Mane, but there was nothing the England keeper could do as Henderson’s perfect left-footer found the corner of the net for the opener, following beautiful approach work by Mane and Andy Robertson.

Only nine minutes in – but long overdue, Everton little more than a hapless rabble.

Pickford turned aside Alexander-Arnold’s raking, rising drive, with Townsend’s booking for a dive over Robertson’s leg another self-inflicted wound.

Benitez, who had opted to start Salomon Rondon alongside the returning Richarlison in a lop-sided front duo, appeared as nonplussed as his traumatised team.

And some home fans were starting to make their way back out when Salah doubled the lead.

Henderson’s lovely pass released the Egyptian into the space that should have been filled by Lucas Digne, with Pickford given no chance at all as Salah steered gloriously high into the net to clock up that milestone for Klopp.

It seemed set to be about damage control for the home side, potentially a record-breaking win for the visitors.

Had Paul Tierney pulled out a red card, rather than a yellow one, when Allan’s trailing leg caught Jota’s ankle, Benitez might be clearing his office desk this morning.

Instead, somehow, the home side were back in it before the interval.

Gray, found by Richarlison through the middle, poked through Alisson’s legs, although Klopp will be asking questions of his back line about the size of the gap they left exposed.

Briefly, Goodison found its voice, urging and imploring, furious at Tierney for a second simulation caution when Gray hit the turf, roaring before Abdoulaye Doucoure’s effort was cleared by Thiago on the break.

Now, at last, it WAS a contest, although Mane should have buried Alexander-Arnold’s pass soon after the restart – although VAR might have ruled it out in any event.

Liverpool, while still better, had lost their swagger, slightly, keeping Everton’s hope alive, although Richarlison’s wild slash from 25 yards summed up their desperation.

And when Gray, trying to recycle a corner, sold Coleman short and the skipper mis-kicked, Salah was off and running, Pickford again beaten as the African King rolled into the far corner.

Everton gave up, Liverpool didn’t, Jota smashing home from a narrow angle to inflict more doom, gloom and despair.

The final straw? You wouldn’t be surprised.

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