Liverpool played out a goalless draw with Merseyside rivals Everton on Sunday to miss out on the chance to return to the top of the Premier League.
The Reds required victory to move back above Manchester City following the Citizens’ 1-0 win over Bournemouth yesterday, but they fired another blank – their third stalemate in four matches in all competitions, two of those coming in their faltering top-flight run-in.
Mohamed Salah wasted the best chance of the contest in the first half, being denied by Jordan Pickford when through on goal, meaning that Liverpool’s title hopes are no longer in their own hands.
Liverpool enjoyed the better of the rare first-half opportunities, with Salah testing Pickford with a curler from the edge of the box before wasting his glorious opportunity just before the half-hour mark.
The Egyptian forward was played through on goal by a long pass from Fabinho, but he was unable to open up his body and Pickford stuck out a strong hand to keep the ball out.
The loose ball fell nicely for returning skipper Jordan Henderson to strike, but his shot was blocked in front of goal as two chances in the space of five seconds went begging.
Everton’s attacking players were feeding off scraps for large parts of the first half, though they did create half a chance shortly before the interval when Theo Walcott, played onside by Joel Matip, burst through and fired a powerful shot over the crossbar.
The previous two Merseyside derbies in the Premier League had also been goalless at half time, and memories of Liverpool’s late winner in the reverse meeting remained fresh in the memory.
Both goalkeepers were tested in the opening 10 minutes of the second half as Alisson Becker shifted across to his right to keep out Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s downward header and Pickford got behind Trent Alexander-Arnold’s long-range free kick.
A fine challenge from Michael Keane prevented Salah from getting a shot away in the box on the hour mark, at which point Jurgen Klopp turned to Roberto Firmino from the bench.
It was an Everton sub, Richarlison, who wasted the game’s next chance, however, failing to generate enough power on his header to beat Alisson.
Fabinho was unable to react in time when a Virgil van Dijk header fell to him in front of goal, while Richarlison’s cross for Bernard was inches out of the midfielder’s reach as the game became stretched.
Everton survived another nervy moment in the closing stages as the ball bounced around in their box, but they saw out the danger and their supporters greeted the full-time whistle with a huge roar in the knowledge that Man City – one point clear at the top – are now title favourites.