Romelu Lukaku cancelled out Danny Ings’ opener before half-time as Everton and Liverpool drew 1-1 in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.
Liverpool took the lead their first-half display warranted when Ings was criminally left unmarked to head home a corner from inside the six-yard box in the 42nd minute.
Brendan Rodgers celebrated on the touchline following morning reports that defeat could spell the end of his Anfield reign, but his joy was short lived as an awful Emre Can clearance allowed Lukaku to fire in an equaliser just before half-time.
Ahead of the game Rodgers spoke proudly of being undefeated in six matches against their Stanley Park neighbours, but he has won just one of those encounters and they barely looked like improving that statistic in a second half lacking in clear-cut opportunities for both sides.
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, with three goals in his last three meetings against the old enemy, had a couple of early sighters, while Ings’ angled volleyed dropped just over before James Milner was denied at the near post by Tim Howard in the best of the early chances.
Everton then turned the screw, however, as Simon Mignolet brilliantly tipped over a free header from Steven Naismith, left unmarked by Mamadou Sakho, and then turned wide James McCarthy’s drive.
Despite there not being a Scouser in Liverpool’s side for the first time in a derby since the 1986 FA Cup final, Can did his best to raise antagonism levels by needlessly getting into a scuffle with Ross Barkley which resulted in both being booked.
Then, in the 42nd minute, the breakthrough came as Howard stayed rooted to his line and Barkley failed to track Ings’ slight movement, allowing the 5ft 8ins striker to nod home from four yards.
But Liverpool’s inability to hold onto leads is well-known and in added time Can blasted Gerard Deulofeu’s cross at Martin Skrtel and Lukaku reacted quickest to fire home.
After such a frenetic first half, the second half was something of a damp squib, with Lukaku’s fierce shoot straight at Mignolet and the quiet Philippe Coutinho’s effort at Howard the closest either side went to a winner.
Everton undoubtedly had the better of the half as Liverpool resorted to pumping long balls up to Ings, who had virtually no chance against a back four considerably taller, but only te outstretched leg of Ramiro Funes Mori, a veteran of the River Plate v Boca Juniors encounters but making his first outing in the Merseyside derby, prevented Sturridge racing through for a late winner.
As it was, honours once again ended even.