Liverpool maintained their Merseyside stranglehold over Everton with a 5-2 win over their rivals to remain eight points clear at the top of the Premier League.
In one of the showpiece fixtures of the season under the lights at Anfield, the game lived up to its billing in an extraordinary first half which saw six goals scored.
Sadio Mane laid on two sublime assists for Divock Origi (6) and Xherdan Shaqiri (17) – who were both handed starts in place of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino – to put Liverpool in control.
Michael Keane (21) hit back for Everton but two more special Liverpool goals from Origi (31) and Mane (44) restored the three-goal cushion for just two minutes before Richarlison (45+2) made it 4-2 just before the break.
Georginio Wijnaldum wrapped it up late on (90) as the Everton fans streamed out of Anfield.
It is now 20 games unbeaten for Liverpool against Everton in all competitions and under-pressure Toffees boss Marco Silva now sees his team in the relegation zone after losing nine of their last 13 Premier League games.
With a home game to come against Frank Lampard’s Chelsea on Saturday, the atmosphere at Goodison Park could be toxic and it is likely majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri will not want to put Silva into that environment.
Liverpool: Adrian (7), Alexander-Arnold (7), Van Dijk (7), Lovren (8), Robertson (8), Wijnaldum (8), Milner (7), Lallana (7), Mane (9), Origi (9), Shaqiri (8)
Subs: Henderson (7), Firmino (N/A), Gomez (N/A)
Everton: Pickford (5), Digne (5), Sidibe (5), Holgate (5), Keane (5), Mina (4), Davies (4), Sigurdsson (5), Iwobi (4), Richarlison (7), Calvert-Lewin (6)
Subs: Bernard (6), Kean (5)
Man of the match: Sadio Mane
How Reds left Toffees in a sticky situation…
Jurgen Klopp sprang a surprise in his team selection by omitting both Salah and Firmino and handing a first Premier League start since January 30 to Shaqiri.
Liverpool took just six minutes to set the tone for a thrilling opening half. Mane’s brilliant pass saw Origi scamper through on goal and he rolled the ball past Jordan Pickford.
Trent Alexander-Arnold then picked out Mane with an amazing cross-field pass and he reversed a wonderful pass to Shaqiri who clipped home.
Keane scored from close range minutes later after Dejan Lovren failed to clear an Alex Iwobi cross, but Lovren redeemed himself by setting up Liverpool’s third.
His 40-yard pass was expertly controlled with one touch and lifted over Pickford by a ruthless Origi, who was taking his chance in the absence of Firmino.
Silva switched to a 4-4-2 formation, but it made no difference as Liverpool kept on coming.
Alexander-Arnold raced down the left and found Mane in space with a perfect ball. The striker swept home from the edge of the box with his left foot.
Everton were on the verge of crumbling but responded immediately when Richarlison’s diving header found the back of the net to restore some hope.
The second half did not hit the heights of the first with Liverpool managing the game and Everton looking devoid of any confidence. Mane missed two one-on-one chances before Wijnaldum sent the home fans home happy by scoring as the clock ticked into stoppage time.
That goal also saw the Everton fans flooding to the exits as “going down” was chanted in their direction by the Anfield faithful, whose team are now unbeaten in their last 32 Premier League games (W27 D5), their longest run without defeat in top-flight history.
‘Everton arguing among themselves’
Analysis from Sky Sports News’ Vinny O’Connor:
If Silva’s instruction to his players was to keep it tight, the gameplan was ripped up early on.
Despite five changes, Liverpool started fluidly, while Everton, in contrast, looked uncertain. It said a lot the Everton players were arguing among themselves, highlighting how unsure of their roles they appeared to be.
Other teams have not fared well when they have gone with three centre-backs away at Anfield and Everton went the same way. Liverpool happily exploited them. When Silva switched to a back four after half an hour, with Bernard replacing Djibril Sidibe and Mason Holgate switching to right-back, it appeared that even the Everton manager was acknowledging he had made a mistake starting with a back five.
Everton showed some fight, but, despite their two goals, they never gave the impression they felt they could really go on and get back into the game. Silva has been unlucky with injuries in midfield, but tonight will raise further questions, if not action, over his future.
Meanwhile, Klopp has maintained Liverpool’s advantage at the top while managing the workload of some of his key players.
Defeat leaves Marco Silva on the brink
Report by Sky Sports News’ Alan Myers:
“Marco Silva is on the brink at Everton after Wednesday’s 5-2 derby defeat to Liverpool with former manager David Moyes ready to make a Goodison Park return.
“Various names have been discussed by the Everton board for a number of weeks as candidates to replace Silva, who arrived at Goodison Park from Watford in 2018.
“Moyes, as well as Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, have been heavily linked with the role.”
Man of the match: Sadio Mane
‘Unplayable’ would be the best word to describe Liverpool’s silky smooth forward in the first half, who has to enter calculations of being one of the best players on the planet on current form.
His quality hit stratospheric levels in the opening 45 minutes, setting up the first two goals with two quite outrageously perfect passes. He got in on the act just before the break, making a finish from the edge of the area look easy. This writer was on the verge of giving him a 10/10 but he blotted his copybook slightly in the second half with two glaring one-on-one misses. At least that confirmed he is in fact human.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said: “There were a lot of great football moments in that game. We made five changes. I speak a lot about the quality in the squad, so I have to show it from time to time.
“You give the responsibility to the boys and they have to show that they can perform and what they’re made of, which is incredible.
“Divock’s goal, Sadio’s passes, Shaq’s everything, Adam Lallana everywhere and he had so many really really good moments. Just so many good football moments. But, of course, from time to time a bit rusty in defending because they were really direct.
“It was all good until 4-1, but the 4-2 I didn’t like so much. But we have to learn and have to improve and that’s what we will do.
“They are fantastic footballers. I said before the season that there is no one in the squad who is not an outstanding footballer.”
Everton boss Marco Silva said: “It’s really tough for us. If you are there it’s because you are making certain mistakes, you are not being strong enough to be in a different position.
“We should be better of course. We were not good enough.”
Next up for Liverpool is a visit to Bournemouth on Saturday followed by a trip to Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday in the Champions League. Meanwhile, Everton host Chelsea on Saturday lunchtime.