The 241st Merseyside Derby was anything but ho-hum. After sitting through West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur’s midweek tedium, the nil-all between Everton and Liverpool was a derby balm for the ages. Both sides tore at each other, playing at a near breakneck pace. The Reds started stronger, controlling possession, but their neighbours withstood their every charge. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was the undoubted star of the show, repelling almost everything that came his way.

For all of Liverpool’s early probing, the hosts had a closer first look at goal. Debutant Neil Maupay dropped into the hole, nudging a pass down the inside-left channel to the dynamic Amadou Onana. The young Belgian dawdled briefly, allowing Van Dijk to smother the angle. His feeble shot dribbled into Alisson’s open palms. The Goodison faithful, hitherto quiet, suddenly became a torrent of noise. As the Mersey voices crackled, the football matched their mood.

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Returning Uruguayan Darwin Nunez had the first clear look at goal. A tippy-tappy of Liverpool passes on the right flank later, Trent Alexander-Arnold raked an inviting cross, met by a leaping Nunez’s header. It flew over the crossbar as Goodison heaved a sigh of relief. Toffees midfielder Tom Davies had an even better shy at goal. Right-back James Patterson’s cross wreaked havoc in the Pool box. Joe Gomez shanked his clearance; the ball fell to the Evertonian with the goal gaping. With the outside of his boot, he attempted to glance a finish into the far corner. The ball grazed the post, ricocheting to safety.

Minutes later, Nunez and Luis Diaz both struck the post within seconds. Chasing a long pass down the inside right channel, Nunez controlled superbly with his chest to set up a volley from a tight angle. If not for Pickford’s outstretched palm, the ball would have stung the net. But from the rebound, it fell to the Colombian. Cutting in, he let rip a curler that thudded against the post’s inside. Halftime soon followed.

The visitors upped their game in the second, but Lampard’s men scrapped admirably. Pickford twice saved from close range. In response, Alex Iwobi launched a volley from distance, but it flew wide off the mark. New signing but old boy Idrissa Gueye’s introduction- for Davies- raised decibels even further. Within seconds, the ever-willing Anthony Gordon ploughed forward, cutting back for the underlapping Patterson. His rasping effort- hit on the run- was heading goalwards but for Van Dijk’s backside. From the ensuing corner, Liverpool charged forward, summoning three saves in succession from Pickford. The Englishman first denied Firminho, nudging his low drive across the goal. Firminho- left unmarked- arrowed a header on target, but the Everton captain parried for another corner. The corner fell to Fabinho eventually. Pickford blocked his snap-shot too.

But in an instant, Everton was up the other end. Demarai Gray rode forward at pace, tugging a pass to the free Maupay inside the Pool box. But Alisson stood tall, deflecting his goal-bound shot with a raised arm. As the game bobbed from end to end, Everton earned a corner after another lung-bursting Gordon run. Maupay recycled the overhit corner, fizzing a low shot/cross across Liverpool’s goal. Conor Coady snuck unnoticed at the far post to tap home. The delirium was cut short by a VAR check, however. The defender was marginally offside. The goal was chalked off; the score reset to 0-0.

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The remaining minutes flowed similarly wild. Salah and Firminho combined to illicit another Pickford save. Substitute Dwight McNeil nearly curled a winner for the home side, forcing Alisson to palm over his bar. All blood and thunder, it ended in stalemate. After 90-plus febrile minutes, a calm spreads across Merseyside.