Sports Desk, Feb 13 (EFE).- Liverpool snapped a four-game winless streak in the Premier League with a 2-0 home victory Monday night over crosstown rival Everton in the Merseyside derby.
Mohamed Salah and Cody Gakpo scored on either side of halftime for the Reds, who had not won in league play since Dec. 30 and badly needed a confidence boost before squaring off next week against Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 clash.
Liverpool’s struggles seemed to be weighing heavily on their players in the early going at Anfield Stadium, as Jurgen Klopp’s men lacked the precision and necessary calm in the final third to turn their possession edge into clear goal opportunities.
And when decent chances did arrive, including one in the 17th minute when Gakpo headed wide off a volley by Darwin Nuñez, they went wanting.
But their attacking mindset still contrasted sharply with Everton, a club in danger of relegation for the first time in nearly 50 years who started the match in pure defense mode.
The Toffees, however, began to venture forward later in the first half and even created a clear opportunity of their own in the 35th minute, when James Tarkowski’s header off a corner kick clanked off the woodwork.
Nuñez then capitalized immediately on Liverpool’s good fortune, taking possession off the rebound, charging into Everton’s area and sending a cross that Salah booted into the net past an out-of-position Jordan Pickford in minute 36.
After the break, it was Gakpo’s turn to score on the counterattack, his first goal since arriving at Anfield in January from PSV Eindhoven.
Five Liverpool players touched the ball on the play, which ended with Trent Alexander-Arnold delivering a cross that the Netherlands international tapped home from close range in the 49th minute after a defender had let the ball run through.
With Everton forced to throw caution to the wind at that juncture, the home side had two clear chances to add to their lead that neither Nuñez nor Salah were able to convert.
The biggest cheers from the crowd late in the contest were reserved for Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino, who both returned from lengthy injury absences and came on as substitutes in the 69th minute and 78th minute, respectively.
Afterward, Liverpool’s manager said he was thrilled his players finally gave the club’s passionate fan base something to cheer about in Premier League play.
“We needed this game, we needed the performance. Now we had it, our people absolutely deserved it – I loved the atmosphere, even before we scored,” Klopp said. “The people were there, it’s insane what kind of atmosphere the people create here. Tonight we delivered and our people deserved it.”
With the win, Liverpool moved into ninth place in the league and nine points behind fourth-place Newcastle, who currently are in position to claim a spot in next season’s Champions League.
Everton are in the 18th spot in the league and remained in the relegation zone along with Bournemouth and Southampton. EFE