LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) – Everton were denied a second-half Premier League win on Saturday following a lengthy VAR review in a feisty 0-0 draw with Merseyside rivals Liverpool.
Both sides hit the woodwork in the first half at Goodison Park, with Tom Davies denied by the upright for Everton, before Darwin Nunez and Luiz Diaz both saw efforts come out off the frame of the goal for the visitors.
The game opened up after the break, with Jordan Pickford forced into several fine stops in the home goal, while Neal Maupay should have scored from close range on his Everton debut after signing from Brighton & Hove Albion in midweek.
Then came the moment Everton fans had been waiting for after Conor Coady tapped home at the far post, but with pandemonium ensuing at Goodison the goal was ruled out for offside after a lengthy VAR review.
Both sides pressed for a winner, with Everton substitute Dwight McNeil’s deflected shot almost catching Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson out and Mohamed Salah firing against the post in stoppage time, but the rivals had to settle for a point each.
The stalemate means Liverpool remain in fifth, six points behind leaders Arsenal ahead of their trip to Manchester United on Sunday, while Everton stay 14th, winless from their six matches.
Coming into the match after earning back-to-back home victories, Liverpool headed to Goodison, where they had not tasted defeat in the Premier League in 12 years, confident of further derby glory.
But even with big-money close season signing Nunez back up front, Liverpool struggled to get going.
When they did create an opening, Liverpool found England goalkeeper Pickford in inspired form, with his save to tip Nunez’s effort onto the crossbar the pick of his first half stops.
Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp threw on a fourth attacker in Roberto Firmino for the second half, with Pickford forced into three saves in quick succession to deny the Brazilian.
The game opened up from there on in. Maupay should have broken the deadlock from close range, firing too close to Alisson, before the striker played a big part in what he thought was the opening goal in the 69th minute.
Coady thought he had timed his arrival at the back post to perfection for his first Everton goal, only to be judged offside in a tight call, much to the away fans’ delight.
Just as they did in their dramatic midweek win over Newcastle United, Liverpool thought they had snatched it at the death, but Salah’s first-time effort cannoned out off the upright once more, with the brilliant Pickford getting the faintest of touches to it.
“It was a real derby, super intense and full of really spectacular moments,” said Klopp. “I think we hit the post three times and there were a few unbelievable saves from Pickford – wow, what can you do?
“In this game, easy and free-flowing is not possible. You have to dig deep, that’s what we did. A 0-0 draw sounds strange, but that’s it,” he added.
Everton boss Frank Lampard felt his team’s performance was a clear sign of their improvement.
“I thought we were brilliant. It’s one of the best 0-0s you’re likely to see,” said the former England midfielder.
“Pickford made some great saves, you need your keeper to be on it in games like this. It was a real game of two teams going for it. I can’t fault the players and the spirit. We played well, we’re getting better.”
The stalemate means the Merseyside derby has produced more goalless draws than any fixture in both English top-flight history (36) and Premier League history (12).
(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Mike Harrison)