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

Arena reacts to USMNT draw, expects CONCACAF fight to end

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Bruce Arena didn’t enjoy watching Tuesday’s 1-1 draw between the United States and Panama, but he’s not upset with the result.

“The referee didn’t blow his whistle too much, and that’s the way the game looked for 90 minutes,” Arena said.

[ MORE: Player ratings | 3 things ]

Arena’s Yanks struggled to find their flow in the draw, ravaged by injuries to their back line. Arena praised his back four for their performance in difficult circumstances on the road with new teammates.

And he’s feeling a lot better than a week ago, when the U.S. had zero points and sat last in the table.

[ WATCH: Full match replay (Spanish) ]

“We’re obviously in better shape with four points in two games. We’ve made progress. Every game in qualifying is going to be critical for every team. Everyone’s in it. It’s going to be a battle for the second, third, and fourth spots.”

The Americans’ next World Cup qualifier is June 8 against Trinidad and Tobago before a June 11 road trip to Azteca to face Mexico.

Panama 1-1 USMNT: Ugly, scrappy point for both sides

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The United States will finish the international break in the Hex’s fourth place after a 1-1 draw at Panama in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

Clint Dempsey scored off a feed from Christian Pulisic to give the U.S. a brief 1-0 lead, and Gabriel Gomez leveled the score before halftime.

The Americans’ next World Cup qualifier is June 8 against Trinidad and Tobago before a June 11 road trip to Azteca to face Mexico.

[ MORE: Player ratings | 3 things ]

Here’s the Hex table as it stands, with the U.S. on pace for a playoff spot against Asia’s playoff winner:

Mexico — 10 points
Costa Rica — 7 points
Panama — 5 points
———————
USMNT — 4 points
———————-
Honduras — 4 points
Trinidad and Tobago — 3 points

[ WATCH: Full match replay (Spanish) ]

The first 10 minutes were a bit frenetic, with the U.S. focused on adventurous first touch passes when it managed to earn the ball from Panama.

That feel wasn’t aided by the officiating, as Cesar Ramos was inconsistent in a very physical opening quarter-hour (and never pulled a single card).

Felipe Baloy flashed a header over the cross bar off a 16th minute corner kick as he lost Jozy Altidore and nodded back across goal. It was a bit of set piece foreshadowing, as Arena has yet to fix a long-held USMNT problem.

Christian Pulisic was fired up when Luis Tejada shoved him to the turf in the 20th minute.

Tim Ream bailed out Jorge Villafana, who wasn’t as composed and smart as his Friday versus Panama, sliding to divert Armando Cooper’s cross for a corner kick.

Jermaine Jones cued up Pulisic moments later, but the youngster had to wait for a bounding ball to settle before Panama conceded a corner. That opportunity was wasted by an overly aggressive Gonzalez, who was called for a foul before the ball arrived in the 18.

Howard saw his first danger and averted it when Alberto Quintero shook Zusi to rip a shot on frame. It was 0-0 after 32 minutes.

Then, the breakthrough. Dempsey moved to within a goal of Landon donovan’s all-time mark thanks to Pulisic, who cooked Felipe Baloy and held off Roman Torres before laying off to the veteran. 1-0, 39′.

The lead lasted all of three minutes, as Gomez pounced on a loose ball with the Yanks’ back line at sixes and sevens off a long throw-in. Gomez turned off Jermaine Jones and lost Villafana to bury his chance behind Howard. 1-1, 44′.

The second half began with more chunky play until Villafana blazed down the left wing on an overlapping run to cross for Pulisic, whose shot was forced out for a corner which led to nothing.

Dempsey then turned a Michael Bradley free kick to a waiting Jaime Penedo as the Yanks started to refind their flow.

Panama found a doorstep chance when Torres nodded down for Tejada, but Howard made an exceptional nether regions “leg” save to keep it 1-1.

Arena introduced Alejandro Bedoya for Darlington Nagbe with 20 minutes to play, a move that was a testament to the physical nature of the game.

Fittingly, it was creative work from Pulisic that helped the U.S. win a corner kick soon after, though Penedo claimed the offering.

More chances came Panama’s way, as the U.S. spent much of the late stages desperately clearing loose balls. On another night, with better finishing from Tejada, the Yanks would’ve been sunk.

Three takeaways from the USMNT’s 1-1 draw at Panama

AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco
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What did we learn from the United States’ 1-1 draw in Panama City on Wednesday?

For one thing, that the coach isn’t going to matter without a number of your very best players.

[ MORE: Match recap | Player ratings ]

The USMNT saw precious few moments of brilliance from its injury-ravaged side, saved by its soon-to-be all-time leading scorer, its 18-year-old star attacker, and its legendary goalkeeper.

But mainly, we saw that you can change the boss, but you need better performances to make a difference.

Limits of depth tested in ugly affair

Bruce Arena was without his best center back pairing thanks to injury, and you could argue he was without his best back four if you see Fabian Johnson as a left back (John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, DeAndre Yedlin, and Johnson).

The U.S. also couldn’t pair Bobby Wood with Jozy Altidore or Clint Dempsey, and lost Sebastian Lletget to injury on Friday. Timmy Chandler has rarely thrived with the USMNT, but it certainly would’ve been nice if Arena had called him up for the second match alone (He was suspended Friday for yellow card accumulation).

Given the above, this was not a pretty match. You just have to hope this isn’t the result that keeps them from Russia.

Mexico, revisited (What game plan?)

This might be an unpopular take, but Tuesday’s loss was nothing more than the performance put forth against Mexico in Columbus.

The main differences? Tim Howard was there to make a tremendous save, and Panama is nowhere near to the level of El Tri.

[ WATCH: Full match replay (Spanish) ]

The Yanks didn’t have a great plan other than to outwork Panama. This isn’t a big knock on the coach’s tactics given the lack of starting caliber players noted above, but once Panama flooded the middle of the pitch with fouls and tight tackles, an answer wasn’t provided by the players or the coach.

Plan B hasn’t been a U.S. strong suit for a long time, perhaps back to the finer moments of the Bob Bradley era. Arena got away with one on Tuesday.

Rough road ahead

This is something we know, but my was it reinforced: Winning CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers at home is a necessity, because there’s carnage and bad pitches on the road.

Perhaps that could’ve changed if referee Cesar Ramos brought a yellow card out for either team at any point in the proceedings. Christian Pulisic and Darlington Nagbe were fouled as part of Panama’s game plan, and the Yanks’ beleaguered defense went with a similar plan as the sloppy match wore into the waning moments.

The U.S. is still in control of its own World Cup destiny, of course, but simply must handle its business in remaining home matches against Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, and Costa Rica. T&T is next, and anything other than three points sends them into Azteca in a bad, bad way.

Player ratings from the USMNT’s 1-1 draw in Panama

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Player ratings reverted to old form after Tuesday’s 1-1 draw in Panama City, though fortunately one of the other U.S. tropes is dead.

That’s because “Christian Pulisic is the future” can officially be moved into “Christian Pulisic is the present”.

[ MORE: Match recap | 3 things ]

The Borussia Dortmund teenager again manufactured the United States’ best moment, feeding Clint Dempsey for the Yanks’ lone goal.

Starting XI

Tim Howard  — 7 — Don’t know what he’s supposed to do on the goal, but his jewels save to deny Luis Tejada could be a World Cup saver.

Jorge Villafana  — 4 — One of the many star men from the win over Honduras was too adventurous and less composed. Bad combo.

Omar Gonzalez  — 4 — I say this in a way that ignores Timmy Chandler’s fine work in the Bundesliga: Is Gonzalez going to be Bruce Arena’s Chandler? Hopefully this is the last time he has to start.

Tim Ream — 5 — Had a bad time on the goal, and made several bad plays. But it’s hard to get a read on the Fulham’s man night because he bailed out Gonzalez and Villafana on a number of occasions.

Graham Zusi  — 5 — Gets bumped up a point for handling a very difficult situation, still adapting to right back in a match where Panama’s tactics were to attack his side. A better second half than the first.

Michael Bradley  — 6 — Nothing exceptional from the captain, but still an upgrade from his form under Jurgen Klinsmann. A little too deep in the formation on the evening, but that could’ve been the plan?

Jermaine Jones  (Off 75′) — 5 — Ornery as usual, his only successes came in standing up for his oft-fouled midfield mates.

Darlington Nagbe  (Off 68′) — 6  — This game looked set up for him to pick the ball up from Michael Bradley and dance into the midfield, but he only got a few chances as Panama’s tactics were aimed at fouling the Yanks’ two best dribblers in him and Pulisic.

Christian Pulisic  — 9 — A simply incredible bit of work to work two veteran defenders and assist Dempsey’s goal. Failing an unforeseen dip in company, Pulisic is going to be one of the most important players in American men’s history.

Clint Dempsey  — 6 — Scored the goal that earned the point, but otherwise fought to be a part of the match. That’s the sign of a legend, though, still finding a way to make himself matter on a poor evening.

Jozy Altidore  — 5 — Might’ve had a dozen touches in the game. Part of this was down to the U.S. aiming balls at his head and not his feet, but not his day.

Subs

Alejandro Bedoya (On 68′)  — 6 — Dogged work rate from the Union man.

Kellyn Acosta (On 75′) — 6 — Some creativity on display in limited time

Paul Arriola (On 83′) — N/A —