Liverpool 4-0 Everton: Sturridge double seals scintillating Merseyside derby win (video)

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LIVERPOOL — One of the most one-sided Merseyside derbies in recent history saw Liverpool blow away neighbors Everton 4-0 at Anfield on a pulsating night under the floodlights at the famous old ground on Tuesday.

Steven Gerrard’s header midway through the first half gave Liverpool the breakthrough they needed after an even start to the match.

The Reds never looked back.

Daniel Sturridge then scored twice in quick succession just after the 30 minute mark, as his first was a cool finish before the England international nonchalantly lobbed Tim Howard to make it 3-0 before the break.

In the second half Everton threatened a brief comeback but Luis Suarez ran from the halfway line before slotting home to make it 4-0 in the 49th minute, and the contest was over. Sturridge missed a penalty for his hat trick and spurned several other chances as the Reds piled on the misery against an Everton side who looked shell-shocked.

With the famous win Liverpool cement their place in fourth and are just six points off top spot, with 46 points from their 23 games after their biggest win in the rivalry match since 1982. Everton stay in sixth and are now four points behind their Merseyside rivals in the race for fourth.

With the first attack of the game Ross Barkley surged forward and smashed a rasping left-footed effort just over the bar from 25-yards out. Moments later Jordan Henderson tried his luck from distance as Liverpool hit back, but the ball was palmed away by Howard.

(MORE: After dazzling win, can Liverpool make Champions League dream a reality?)

The pace of the game was intense as the rain teamed down at Anfield and playing conditions suited both sides.

In the 8th minute Suarez was thwarted by USMNT ‘keeper Howard as the Uruguayan international hit a snap shot from the edge of the box that Howard tipped wide to his left as Liverpool’s first effort came in on goal.

Liverpool had more efforts on goal, but an anxious home crowd seemed wary whenever the Toffees surged forward. But all those nerves dissipated when captain fantastic Gerrard hammered home a header from a fizzing corner from Suarez in the 21st minute to send Anfield wild. Suarez was getting lambasted by the Everton fans before taking the corner kick in front of the away supporters… but he soon had the last laugh.

Cries of “Steve Gerrard, Gerrard” rung around Anfield as the home side went 1-0 up and Everton were rocking.

Everton briefly fought back and went close on two occasions as first Gareth Bary flashed an effort wide following a goalmouth scramble and then Kevin Mirallas put a low effort just wide of the post.

source: Getty Images
Liverpool’s captain Steven Gerrard celebrates his opening goal as Anfield erupts.

However in the 33rd minute Sturridge slotted home coolly following a sublime through ball from Philippe Coutinho to make it 2-0.

Then two minutes later Sturridge delivered a marvelous finish for his second and Liverpool’s third, with a marvelous lob over the advancing USMNT ‘keeper Tim Howard as Anfield erupted into scenes of euphoria.

Liverpool led 3-0 at half time, as Everton had one heck of a mountain to climb to salvage anything from the 222nd edition of the Merseyside derby.

But any thoughts of Everton fighting back were all but over within five minutes of the restart as Suarez intercepted Phil Jagielka on the half way line and ran over 50 yards before coolly slotting home to make it 4-0.

Cue scenes of utter jubilation from the home fans at Anfield.

Things should’ve been even more comfortable for the Reds in the 54th minute as Raheem Sterling was brought down by Howard for a penalty kick. However the ball was handed to Sturridge to secure his hat trick… but the red-hot striker smashed his effort high over the bar and into the Kop.

(MORE: Premier League Standings)

Liverpool eased into second gear for the rest of the derby, as Everton tried to get things going but were severely lacking up top after the loss of Lukaku early through injury. A barrage of corners and set pieces in the 60th minute almost saw Liverpool extend their lead as Everton somehow scrambled the ball clear on multiple occasions.

Everton had plenty of possession but just couldn’t get anything going as Liverpool’s makeshift back four of Flanagan, Skrtel, Toure and Cissokho defended resolutely.

Leon Osman made a difference in the second half but despite the Toffees best efforts, Liverpool prevailed on derby day with a massive win that made sure thier fans have bragging rights until next season.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Mignolet, Cissokho, Skrtel, Toure, Flanagan (Kelly, 73), Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho (Alberto, 79), Sturridge (Moses, 72), Sterling, Suarez

Goals: Gerrard (21) Sturridge (33 & 35), Suarez (49)

Everton: Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Mirallas, McCarthy, Lukaku (Naismith 24), Barry, Barkley (McGeady, 75), Pienaar (Osman, 45), Stones, Alcaraz

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

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The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.

Forbes ranks the top supporters in Major League Soccer

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Forbes claims the shared honor will give two Cascadia Cup rivals one less thing to argue about, but we completely disagree.

The celebrated magazine says their metrics show the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders tied for the honor of who has the best fans in Major League Soccer.

The post says the determination was made through four factors: attendance, local TV ratings, merchandise sales, and social media followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Attendance was weighted heaviest, which certainly gives Atlanta United hope to go charging up the rankings in the future. For now, the “Five Stripes” are not included in the list.

The Galaxy finish third in the rankings, while the sixth-place New York Red Bulls edge New York City FC by one spot.

For the report and full explanation, head here.

Europa League preview: Everton, Milan, Marseille take next steps

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The UEFA Europa League playoff round takes full flight Thursday, a day after Utrecht struck a blow for the Eredivisie with a 1-0 win over Zenit Saint-Petersburg in a Wednesday first leg.

Premier League participants Everton will be seeking a result at home against Hajduk Split, the third-place team from Croatia’s top flight.

Gylfi Sigurdsson passed his medical at Goodison Park but will not be available for Everton on Thursday.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

As for the match, manager Ronald Koeman knows the Thursday matchdays for the UEL will try his club’s endurance and depth. From EvertonFC.com:

“We know English teams have some problems. I think it is more mental than physical because if you play in the Champions League – so Wednesday and Saturday – you have the same amount of days to recover. I try to put out the strongest team to start the game. That will take into account the tactical aspects of each game. That will mean different players start and different options in terms of substitutions.”

Captained by Zoran Nizic and managed by Joan Carrillo, Hajduk has a young star in the making in the form of 19-year-old attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic, but Everton is heavily favored at home with Hajduk given 12:1 odds by bookmakers.

[ MORE: Barca GM says Coutinho, Dembele “close” ]

Those numbers are a relative sure thing compared to AC Milan’s visitors. Macedonia club Shkendija are a 33:1 underdog for its trip to Italy.

Elsewhere, Slovenian side Domzale is a longshot at home to visiting Marseille.

Speaking of bookmakers, Arsenal won’t enter the competition until the group stage but is considered the favorite to win the UEL by a hair over Milan. Everton, Villarreal, and Athletic Bilbao are level with third-best odds.

UEFA Europa League playoff first legs
Utrecht 1-0 Zenit — Weds.
BATE Borisov vs. Oleksandriya — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Apollon Limassol vs. Midtjylland — 1 p.m.
Krasnodar vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Skenderbeu — 1 p.m.
FH vs. Braga — 1:45 p.m. ET Thursday
PAOK vs. Ostersund — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Vardar vs. Fenerbahce — 2 p.m.
Plzen vs. AEK Lamaca — 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday
Altach vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Suduva — 2:30 p.m.
Panathinaikos vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:30 p.m.
Domzale vs. Marseille — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Osijek vs. Austria Wien — 2:45 p.m.
Viitorul vs. Red Bull Salzburg — 2:45 p.m.
Ajax vs. Rosenborg — 2:45 p.m.
Legia Warsaw vs. Sheriff — 2:45 p.m.
AC Milan vs. Shkendija — 2:45 p.m.
Club Brugge vs. AEK — 2:45 p.m.
Partizan vs. Videoton — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Everton vs. Hajduk Split — 3:05 p.m. ET Thursday
Maritimo vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:30 p.m. ET Thursday