Well, who was expecting that, then? A derby goal for the ages hammered in from 25-plus yards by Phil Jagielka silenced Anfield and secured what was, by that late stage, a very unlikely point. Another defeat to Liverpool was averted with a couple of minutes to spare.
The Toffees' captain doesn't score many � indeed his last goal prior to today came in April 2013 � but he chose as good a moment as you can to reach into the top drawer and pull out a quite stunning, unstoppable strike that cancelled out Steven Gerrard's free kick goal from earlier in the second half.
It lit up what was, on balance, a frustrating afternoon for Everton, one that had arguably reached its nadir half an hour before Gerrard found the net via Tim Howard's unfortunately weak glove when Kevin Mirallas was stretchered away from the action with a suspected torn hamstring.
This is the Belgian's third season with the Blues and in each of them he has succumbed to serious injury when he was reaching the peak of his powers. His 2012-13 campaign was severely disrupted by hamstring problems and a tear to his groin robbed Martinez of his talents for the run-in at the end of last season. Now, having established himself as arguably the most consistent of Everton's players in the early part of this season, he faces an undetermined amount of time on the treatment table and blunts significantly a Blues attack that struggled throughout this afternoon.
Indeed, it was the defensive side of the game that garnered much of the attention today, not least because of how much improved Everton's back line was from the last time the two teams met in January. Granted, it could only have been better but they can be satisifed with the fact that Liverpool, Adam Lallana's free header after nine minutes (saved superbly by Howard) aside, were largely restricted to shots from outside the box and that it was a piece of deception of referee Martin Atkinson by Mario Balotelli that won the free kick from which Gerrard would score with 64 minutes gone.
The Italian striker might have scored twice from close range himself, it should be noted � he mis-timed a free header in the first half and was foiled by the slightest of deflections off Howard shortly after the reds' goal that took his side-foot shot onto the crossbar and over to safety in the second � but other than a decent claim for a penalty when Gareth Barry raised his arms to block a Balotelli shot in the ninth minute, the reds didn't really threaten.
On another day that incident might have yielded a second yellow card for Barry who had been booked in the very first minute for a late tackle on Adam Lallana but, having waved away appeals at the other end for an equally valid penalty appeal for Alberto Moreno's foul on Romelu Lukaku, Martin Atkinson played it safe. (Had he awarded the first penalty, it would have been only the second one awarded to Everton at Anfield since the Second World War. Feel free to pause there and ponder how staggering a stastistic that is and what it says about the psychology of referees on the grounds of the consistently successful teams.) As it was, Barry should be commended for walking that tightrope to the other side by completing the full 90 minutes without getting sent off, although he was arguably let off again seconds later when he tripped Balotelli and escaped further censure. He also almost proved to be a liability with sloppy passing in front of his own back four that required an intervention from Howard to save from Raheem Sterling and keep the scores level going into the half-time break.
In between, in a match that lost its early fire and settled into a more cagey affair between two teams struggling for form, some neat footwork from Lukaku engineered enough space to test Simon Mignolet from 18 yards but his shot was too close to the goalkeeper, and, either side of Mirallas' disappointing exit, the Belgian was well placed on a couple of occasions near the six-yard box but neither Baines nor Aiden McGeady could find him from the left side of the box on the few occasions the Blues got in behind Liverpool's defence.
It's fair to say, though, that Lukaku's performance after that went steadily downhill. Deployed in the wide-right role in which he was so effective against Arsenal back in April but which has since, unfortunately, exposed some of his limitations when he doesn't have space to run into and is forced to either hold the ball up or beat his man, he was a constant let-down in possession in the last hour of the contest. His presence was crucial in preventing Moreno from attacking down the left flank but as a striking outlet for Everton he was ineffective.
That was unfortunate because, with Martinez clearly having set his stall out to rely primarily on the counter-attack, it needed both Lukaku to be more threatening with the ball at his feet and also for the rest of the attacking unit to be better with their distribution when flying forward. Unfortunately, the final ball was all too often lacking and though Muhamed Besic, a surprise Premier League debutant, showed some welcome composure and an ability to pick a pass � a dreadful touch in his own box just after the interval that almost let Balotelli in is best forgotten � there was just no crispness or cohesion about the Blues going forward and no one with, say, Ross Barkley's desire to take the ball and run at defenders.
Indeed, it was hard to see where an Everton goal was going to come from as the second period dragged on, with the absence of Mirallas's pace, invention and directness achingly evident and the wisdom of having last season's top scorer marooned on the right wing increasingly baffling. Still, Steven Naismith forced a routine save from Mignolet with a rare shot just before Liverpool scored and Lukaku passed up a gift-wrapped opportunity to equalise in short order a few minutes afterwards when he ghosted onto Besic's beautifully flighted ball over the top but failed to make contact when any would surely have steered it past the 'keeper.
It wasn't until the last quarter of an hour when first Tyias Browning and then Samuel Eto'o were introduced that the Blues started to look capable of salvaging something from the game, but even then the cavalry charge never really materialised. Sterling had really only exposed Tony Hibbert's age and lack of pace on a couple of occasions but Martinez would nevertheless move to shore up that part of the field with 17 minutes go by handing Browning a hugely encouraging debut in his place at right back.
There has been a growing buzz of aniticipation about the 20 year-old's abilities over the past few months and he didn't disappoint, his assuredness in possession and greater appetite for getting forward when compared to Hibbert will ease concerns among Evertonians over the lack of effective cover for Seamus Coleman. It also led to the equaliser a minute into stoppage time. Browning chased a raking ball forward from Jagielka into the corner before whipping in a cross that eventually ended with Dejan Lovren heading McGeady 's centre from the other side away from his six-yard box.
His clearance was met first time by Jagielka, though, the ball destined for glory the moment it left his boot as it arced divinely off his laces and into the top corner via the underside of Mignolet's crossbar. They don't come much better than that and it lifted the lid off the away end which went erupted in bedlam at the other end.
There was even enough time for Everton to threaten an improbable winner, too, when Lukaku was tripped by Moreno near the byline and Baines executed a training-ground free kick routine that Barry almost turned home with a deft heel flick but it missed the near post by a foot. The spoils were shared and while the Blues' wait for a win at their old home will stretch to a 16th year, at least they avoided the ignominy of defeat.
If the two draws with which Everton started the season felt like defeats because of the manner in which precious points were tossed away, then this should go down as a draw that felt like a victory, albeit it a somewhat hollow one given the loss to what looks like serious injury of Mirallas.
It's also difficult to know where this games leaves us. The point and the manner in which it was grabbed could prove to be one of those catalytic moments that ignites a season but it also represented something of a Get Out of Jail Free card for Martinez and his men who probably didn't deserve to come away from Anfield with anything on the balance of chances created.
In all honesty, it felt curiously like a Moyes-esque performance at times, with Everton labouring to break down a retreating Liverpool side for the last half an hour, few game-changing options available on the bench and the one potentially impactful attacking change in the form of Eto'o coming too late.
What this match did crystallise, though, is that the John Stones-Jagielka partnership is far and away Everton's best and needs to be the first choice pairing from now on. Restored to his preferred role at centre half, Stones was again magnificent in a way that beggars belief given his comparatively tender years and, watching from the stands, Sylvain Distin probably knew that it is time he handed over his first-team berth.
Combined with the emergence � in the cauldron of a derby no less � of Browning, that is definitely something on which to build as we prepare for the Russia trip, Old Trafford after that and the rest of a season that is, on the evidence thus far at least, shaping up to be one of consolidation and patient evolution rather than the expected charge for the top four.
With Seamus Coleman still out injured, Martinez resisted moving John Stones to right back, with Tony Hibbert getting a second start (his first Premier League game since December 2012) along with Muhamed Besic, who's aggression was preferred over Osman's weakness in the middle.
Liverpool kicked off and fairly ripped into the Blues, with hardly a touch until Barry upended Lallana inside the first minute, getting a yellow card from Martin Atkinson but Balottelli could only fire it into the Everton wall. From there, Everton got possession and kept it well until Lukaku was dragged down by Moreno as he moved into the Liverpool area, a clear penalty but the wrong side of the referee, who waved play on. Henderson split the Everton defence but Balotelli was marginally offside.
Barry committed another late foul on Balotelli, worthy of a second yellow, but Atkinson was generous and Balotelli whipped in a good shot that Howard bundled behind for the first corner. Lallana got on the end of it and forced an excellent stop from Howard. More Liverpool corners were defended away as Everton resisted the early Liverpool onslaught. Lukaku did get a shot from distance but it was straight at Mignolet.
Everton's control reduced the frenetic pace a little, perhaps too much as Nasimith maddeningly turned and played the ball back on a rare break, with Lukaku free on his right. Everton did well to create a chance for Baines to advance to the byeline and cross low but Lukaku was not where he needed to be.
Howard saved a good shot from Henderson and Mirallas went on an impressive run until he tried a stepover at speed and pulled his hamstring. McGeady replaced him as Balotelli missed a simple looking header. Barry looked to have fouled again but McGeady got into a good position only to cross too close to Mignolet.
Everton's defence looked more confident as they resisted Liverpool''s attacks but the breaks on turnover continued to be disappointing, with Naismith not accurate enough despite his enthusiasm. Skrtel landed awkwardly and needed attention to his ankle, giving the Blues a chance to breath. Balotelli's shot was deflected behind for another corner, headed away by Baines and fired over by Markovic.
A tremendous deep ball from Baines looked to be falling nicely for Lukaku but it was too easy for Lovren to thwart him. At the other end, a shot at Howard was handled well. Sterling did advance threateningly but Howard did well to get his foot on the England star's shot and concede another corner, Howard again ending another Liverpool attack.
Everton were looking better on the ball as half-time approached but slow build-up and loose passes seemed to be their undoing, allowing Liverpool to attack them and pepper Howard with shots �?? 16 in the first half versus just 3 from the Blues.
The second half started with Liverpool playing a lot slower but a poor backpass from Besic almost gave Balotelli a chance. McGeady won Everton's first corner, headed away. Markovic was well handled by McCarthy when a good ball got over the Everton defence again. But the pace and madness seemed to have gone out of the game, which favoured Everton's more controlled if slow style.
Sterling tried to run through but Stones had the measure of him with a brilliantly timed interception. Everton were looking to play longer forward balls but most were not coming off, ceding possession, giving Everton's defenders more opportunities to show their mettle. Naismith got off a good looking strike but again, straight at Mignolet.
Baines caught Balotelli to give away another dangerous free-kick that Gerrard curled over the wall and in off Howard, falling backward in trademark fashion into the net, undoing all the good defensive work the Blues had put in. Besic got a good ball in to Lukaku but he completely failed to head it properly and Balotelli lashed an open shot onto the top of the Everton bar after a determined run by Sterling. Slo-mo showed Howard's flailing arm had deflected the shot just enough.
The goal had given Liverpool a lift after they had struggled to counter Everton's control but now it was the Blues who had to take the initiative, and that was proving difficult as the match entered its final quarter. But Martinez left changes late, and then brought on Tyias Browning for his debut to relieve Hibbert, rather than giving Eto'o a chance to change the game.
More controlled play from Everton threatened to push Liverpool back but Lukaku again went wide and his cross was abysmally overhit. McGeady was running well but with little effect. Eto'o finally entered the game for the last 10 mins in place of Besic, who not particularly impressed as Balotelli lashed a shot wide. Eto'o did the same at the other end as Everton tried to raise the tempo but could not create the chance needed to get back on level terms.
Naismith won Everton's second corner in the last minute but Baines's delivery was nothing short of pathetic, and was followed by a poor foul throw as the game moved into added time. The game seemed to be ebbing away but the ball bounced across the Liverpool penalty are with nothing really happening, Jagielka lashing an absolute rocket in off the bar from a Liverpool clearance to level the score.
Everton came so close to winning it with the final move, a free-kick brilliantly played in low by Baines with Barry running in for a backheel which went just the wrong side of the post. Honours even.
Scorers: Gerrard (65'); Jagielka (90')
Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno, Gerrard, Henderson, Lallana, Markovic (60' Coutinho), Sterling, Balotelli (87' Lambert).
Subs not used: Jones, Toure, Enrique, Lucas, Suso.
Everton: Howard; Hibbert (73' Browning), Jagielka, Stones, Baines; Barry [Y:1'], McCarthy; Besic (80' Eto'o); Mirallas (31' McGeady), Naismith, Lukaku.
Subs not Used: Robles, Gibson, Osman, Alcaraz.
What has become arguably the most dreaded fixture on the calendar swings around again this weekend and falls, by a quirk of fate, exactly 15 years to the day since Everton's last victory at Anfield.
Kevin Campbell's solitary strike on 27 September, 1999 remains the last winner scored by an Everton player on Liverpool's ground and the years since have been a mixture of defiant draws and adject capitulations during which time the Toffees have seen more red cards than goals.
As we know from two bitter decades of failure at Old Trafford, these winless runs on opposition grounds can be perpetuated to inexplicable lengths, fed by a combination of form, inequality of resources and psychology but the longer this particular one drags on, you feel that by the law of averages alone, the Blues were due a win.
Last season's 4-0 drubbing was a aberration amongst some impressive performances by Roberto Martinez's Everton on the grounds of the old Sky Four. It was a result heavily influenced by a confluence of injury and fitness problems in key areas of the Blues' team on the one hand and an unbridled display of counter-attacking football from the reds.
The same scenario is unlikely to play out again – there is no Luis Suarez this time for one, and Daniel Sturridge is a doubt for Brendan Rodgers – even given Everton's awful defensive form of late. There is also the possibility that John Stones could be deployed in the right-back role in which he has struggled in a Blue shirt (and did so in this fixture back in January) but you would hope that wariness and preparation that comes from beinf once bitten will preclude a repeat mauling.
This particular edition of the Merseyside derby actually sees both managers searching for defensive solidity and with Everton's potentially potent forward line benefitting from rest for Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas over the past week, it could make for an entertaining contest.
Seamus Coleman continues to be the main injury concern for Martinez since he was withdrawn from the Wolfsburg match with a concussion. He has missed the last two games but is in with a shout of being passed fit for this weekend. Should he be ruled out again he would be a huge miss, not least because of his attacking and defensive talents and the fact that his return would allow Stones to move back into the centre.
In goal, there have been murmerings on Merseyside that Tim Howard's erratic recent form might have opened the door for Joel Robles, although they remain just rumours and with Steven Pienaar likely to miss out again, the only other question mark concerns midfield. Again, much could depend on whether Coleman plays – given the deficiencies in Aiden McGeady's defensive game, the manager may opt for a more conservatively-minded player like Leon Osman or Muhamed Besic (his ability to attract cards like a magnet notwithstanding) that would allow a front three of Steven Naismith, Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku to do their thing up front.
Martinez has vowed not to compromise his attacking instincts, saying his team will "never change our focus, we always want to win. If you can’t win, draw, fine, but we will never set out a team to try to draw a game or just hope for a win." That will hopefully signal goals for the Blues – it's at the other end where things will hinge.
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