Frank Lampard reckons several contentious decisions in their 2-0 defeat at Liverpool may have gone in Everton’s favour if the match wasn’t played at Anfield.
Everton fought tooth and nail against bitter rivals Liverpool at Anfield, though ultimately were made to make the short journey home without a point to show.
The Toffees defended manfully for large chunks of the contest, frustrating Liverpool time after time with the scores deadlocked at the break.
However, the introduction of Luis Diaz and Divock Origi from the bench changed the game with first Andy Robertson and then Origi putting past Jordan Pickford.
Everton did have chances of their own, most notably through the hugely impressive Anthony Gordon and Demarai Gray. However, a 2-0 defeat has now left Lampard’s side two points adrift of safety after Burnley defeated Wolves earlier on Sunday.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Lampard said: “I thought we played well.
“The game-plan was understanding they are one of the best teams in the world, with what they are doing to other teams. We wanted to be disciplined and to create chances.
“We had a couple of opportunities; the first half was good and we started the second half well. If we get the first goal, the game feels different.”
Lampard bemoans Anfield influence
Gordon twice saw penalty appeals waved away and received a yellow card for simulation in the first incident with Naby Keita.
The second appeal was more contentious with Joel Matip appearing to nudge the winger in the back.
Further controversy arose late in the first half when every player bar Alisson and Richarlison came together in a 20-man scrum. Replays later showed Sadio Mane twice raised his hands into the faces of Everton players during the melee, though the Senegalese was only shown a yellow card.
Bemoaning the perceived Anfield influence, Lampard said of Gordon’s penalty appeal in the tussle with Matip: “I think it was.
“I’m not sure how clear-cut it was but the referee was quick to whip out a yellow card (for Gordon’s first penalty appeal with Keita).
“When the stuff was going on in the middle of the pitch, you look back on that with VAR and there’s some questionable things going on in that too.
“Maybe that’s to be expected when you come here [Anfiield].”
On the subject of Everton’s spoiling tactics, Lampard admitted they were born out of necessity rather than desire.
“We are not in a position to go toe-to-toe with Liverpool,” added the Toffees boss. “We were smart for 60 minutes and then it becomes very difficult after that.”
Anthony Gordon fights his corner
Everton winger Gordon also spoke to Sky Sports, saying: “We can’t fault our efforts. It’s a tough place to come.
“[The plan was] just to make it difficult for them. They’re in really good form. Throw them off a bit and hopefully take our chances but unfortunately they scored two goals.
“I had a couple where I could have done better. I’ll work on it and become better.
“We stuck in. We stuck together. It was a good performance for a lot of the game but they showed their quality in the end.”
On his booking for diving, the lively youngster added: “I don’t think it’s a booking. I felt contact so I went down. I can see why he didn’t give a penalty but it wasn’t a yellow card for me.”