Liverpool held by Everton as delayed bid to seal EPL resumes
|Toronto Star 21 Jun 2020 at 20:22|
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND—No win for Liverpool on the longest day of the year, and an even longer wait maybe to clinch the title.
When you’ve been waiting 30 years — and then had the coronation delayed by three months because of a pandemic — patience is expected.
The quietest of the 236 Merseyside derbies, with fans denied access to Goodison Park, produced no goals as Everton held Liverpool to a 0-0 draw on Sunday.
Liverpool is an unprecedented 23 points in front. But it is now no longer so certain that a victory over Crystal Palace on Wednesday at Anfield will seal the title. That scenario will require Burnley not losing to second-place defending champion Manchester City on Monday.
But with eight games remaining, Liverpool has considerable breathing space to end the drought and win its first domestic championship since 1990.
After a 103-day wait to return to league action, Liverpool’s attacking potency had been neutered with Mohamed Salah not fit enough to come off the bench. The search for a goal saw Joel Matip’s header go wide in the first half and Fabinho having a free kick tipped over goalkeeper Jordan Pickford late on.
“Physically it was really intense. I’ll take that,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said. “We didn’t have enough chances. Most of the time we were dominant but they had the biggest chance.”
That came for Carlo Ancelotti’s side with 10 minutes to go when Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s shot was saved by Alisson and a followup from Tom Davies hit the post. Alisson was alert again to deny fellow Brazilian Richarlison as the game came to life in the closing stages.
“The players are rusty,” Calvert-Lewin said. “It was a strange game. It was bizarre with a game of this magnitude. Usually the place is bouncing and it was hard to get used to at first.”
With no crowd, there was a tranquility to an often fiercely contested derby, although Liverpool was also held scoreless on the previous two trips here.
It was a 5-2 loss at Anfield in December that saw Everton slip into the relegation zone and Marco Silva fired. Liverpool saw the strength of the revival under Ancelotti, who has guided Everton 11 points clear of danger.