October 20, 2007, 10:02 AM
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KUYT GIVES REDS DRAMATIC DERBY WIN
Jimmy Rice at Goodison 20 October 2007
A pair of Dirk Kuyt penalties gave Liverpool a 2-1 victory in an incredible Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime.
A bizarre own goal from Sami Hyypia gave the Blues a half-time lead, but two second-half spot kicks – including one in stoppage time – ensured a dramatic return to winning ways for Rafa Benitez's side.
Everton ended the game with nine men, Tony Hibbert and Phil Neville both seeing red for their penalty offences.
Neville wrote in his programme notes how he'd seen everything in Merseyside derbies. He spoke too soon.
The Reds kicked off their 22nd lunchtime fixture in just over two years without injured trio Daniel Agger, Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso. The hosts, meanwhile, were without last season's match-winners Andy Johnson and Tim Cahill.
The travelling Kop began the game in high spirits despite the recent dip, throwing around balloons made from Tesco bags – a cheeky swipe at Everton's new stadium plans.
The first chance fell to their boys on five minutes when derby debutant Yossi Benayoun ghosted in behind the Blues' backline before teeing up Andriy Voronin, whose low shot was blocked by the legs of Tim Howard.
Everton were seeing more of the ball, but it was Liverpool, with Gerrard playing more centrally than the teamsheet suggested, who were playing the better football. Voronin and Benayoun, in particular, were taking up some great positions between the lines.
It took Everton 22 minutes to threaten, Leon Osman capitalising on a loose ball from Javier Mascherano before forcing Pepe Reina into a fingertip clearance.
Yakubu had a gilt-edged chance on the half-hour mark – but his attempted scissor-kick from the edge of the six-yard box was akin to taking a chainsaw to a twig. Still, the home side were starting to get into their stride. Minutes later Victor Anichebe headed narrowly over from close range.
The nearest Liverpool game to breaking the deadlock in the first half came on 34 minutes when John Arne Riise hit a low drive from 35 yards. Unfortunately, a wicked deflection sent it narrowly wide.
Then disaster struck when, amid a goalmouth scramble, Hyypia's mis-hit clearance hit the roof of the net. A more bizarre own goal you're not likely to see this season. It was the first time a Red had scored an OG against the Blues since Neil Ruddock in 1997.
It was Everton who started the second half the brighter, but within seven minutes the game was turned on its head.
Voronin sent Gerrard racing clear, the skipper making his way into the box before being hauled down by Hibbert. Mark Clattenburg had no hesitation in awarding a spot kick and giving the Everton right-back his marching orders.
Up stepped Kuyt, who tucked coolly into the left-hand corner of Howard's goal to record his first league goal of the season. Game on.
Everton had a penalty shout of their own just seconds later when Lescott appeared to be obstructed by Steve Finnan.
The game was really starting the open up, and Riise should have put Liverpool into the lead on 57 minutes when Kuyt cut a fantastic ball in from the right. Next Voronin forced a fine save from Howard from seven yards.
Yakubu hit a powerful snap-shot just wide from distance on 66 minutes – though Pepe Reina looked to have it covered.
With the match finely balanced Rafa Benitez shuffled his pack, replacing Benayoun with Ryan Babel and, to the surprise on many, giving Lucas his derby debut at the expense of Gerrard.
The young Brazilian had big shoes to fill but he made a great start when he fed Voronin clean through down the left. Sadly, the Ukrainian dragged his shot harmlessly wide.
Minutes later Momo Sissoko really should have bagged his second goal in a red shirt after finding himself with acres inside the box. He won't want to watch his left-footed effort on Match of the Day this evening.
By this stage it was all Liverpool but chance after chance went begging – until Lucas hit a fantastic stoppage time shot which Neville dived to palm off the line.
Kuyt hit the same spot with his pen and the travelling Kop – as well as Stevie G on the sidelines – went wild.
A late penalty call for a Jamie Carragher indiscretion nearly silenced them - but thankfully it's the Fields of Anfield Road which will be echoing around Stanley Park tonight.
"And do not curse those who call on other than GOD, lest they blaspheme and curse GOD, out of ignorance. We have adorned the works of every group in their eyes. Ultimately, they return to their Lord, then He informs them of everything they had done." (Qur'an 6:108)