Liverpool - Philippe Coutinho starred as Liverpool responded to
Everton's threat to their Champions League aspirations with a commanding 3-1
victory in the 228th Merseyside derby on Saturday.
Spectacular first-half strikes from Sadio Mane and Coutinho
kept Jurgen Klopp's men on course for a top-four finish, either side of Everton
defender Matthew Pennington's first Premier League goal.
Divock Origi added a third mid-way through the second half
just three minutes after replacing the injured Mane as Liverpool, for a few
hours at least, soared to third in the Premier League table.
For Everton, it was a grim extension of their miserable
record at Anfield, where they last won in 1999, while Liverpool completed a
first double of derby wins since 2010-11.
Everton came into the match in good form, with just one
defeat in 12 league matches since Mane's 97th-minute goal secured Liverpool a
1-0 win in December's reverse fixture at Goodison Park.
Victory for Everton at Anfield would have reduced the gap
between the side to just three points - down from 14 at Christmas - but that
never looked likely.
Mane opened the scoring just eight minutes in with a special
He spun neatly around his Senegal team-mate Idrissa Gueye's
slide challenge on the halfway line, played a neat one-two with Roberto Firmino
and then carried the ball across the Everton penalty area on a diagonal run.
With Everton retreating fatally, he let fly with a low shot
that left Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles powerless.
It might have been worse for the Blues after 19 minutes when
Everton's youthful right side retreated again.
This time Coutinho was the beneficiary, unleashing a shot
that Robles punched up into the air, with captain Phil Jagielka heading the
ball away as it dropped towards goal.
It was a shock when Everton got back on terms in the 28th
minute and the identity of the goal scorer was even more of a surprise.
Young defender Pennington had not featured in an Everton
line-up since last May, let alone score a goal.
But having come in for leg break victim Seamus Coleman, he
was the beneficiary when Leighton Baines's first corner of the afternoon
created panic in the Liverpool penalty area.
Jagielka headed on, Ashley Williams challenged Coutinho
inside the six-yard box and the ball broke loose for a gleeful Pennington to
pounce in front of the Kop.
He celebrated with the relish of a young man who had never
scored a top-flight goal before. But derbies can be cruel occasions.
Barely three minutes later Coutinho outwitted him on the
edge of the Everton penalty area and curled in a delicious second to restore
the hosts' advantage.
Everton manager Ronald Koeman opted against making changes
at half-time and his faith was almost justified when Everton threatened an
Ross Barkley's clipped free-kick invited a stretching
cross-shot from Williams, which goalkeeper Simon Mignolet gratefully pounced
Liverpool suffered an injury blow when Mane limped off after
57 minutes, having hurt his left leg in a collision with Baines.
But his replacement, Origi, had only been on the pitch three
minutes when he wrong-footed Robles completely with a vicious right-foot shot
from Coutinho's pass.
Koeman finally made a switch, introducing the experience of
Gareth Barry and Enner Valencia for Tom Davies and Pennington, but one
misdirected Dominic Calvert-Lewin header aside, Liverpool were comfortable.
Substitute Trent Alexander-Arnold almost made it a rout, but
his clipped shot from Emre Can's cut-back was spectacularly pushed away by