54 minutes into today’s Mersyside derby, Everton was leading Liverpool 1-0 and bossing the match. Then, a series of poor calls by referee Mark Clattenburg all but handed the match to the Shite. First, he awarded a penalty to Steven Gerrard and sent off Everton defender Tony Hibbert. The penalty was legitimate, although Gerrard had initiated contact outside of the area. But, as the television commenter said, the sending off was harsh. Hibbert’s challenge was only slightly worse than 50-50 and he and Gerard were basically level. To make matters worse, moments later Clattenburg turned a blind eye when Steve Finnan, second best all day to Joleon Lescott on the left flank, mugged Lescott in the penalty box at the other end.
Forced to play a man down, Everton ceded control of the match, but continued to play well. Finally, in “injury time,” Liverpool took the lead on another penalty kick after Phil Neville used his hands to stop a clear Liverpool goal. But at the other end, Jamie Carragher got away with pulling Lescott down on what looked like a penalty.
So Everton, despite one of its best derby performances in recent years, comes away with nothing. Liverpool gets the three points, but continues the relatively lacklustre play that has characterized its domestic and especially its European campaign to date.
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