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 Sunday, 22 December, 2002, 17:58 GMT
Mersey derby draws a blank
Danny Murphy and Kevin Campbell in action at Anfield
The Mersey rivals cancelled each other out
Liverpool 0-0 Everton

Substitute Wayne Rooney hit the bar to illuminate an otherwise scrappy Merseyside derby as Liverpool and Everton drew a blank at Anfield.

In a match full of industry but precious little artistry, the teenager's 73rd-minute deflected strike came closest to settling the game.

But Everton will be the happier of the teams after taking a point which moves them to fourth in the Premiership for Christmas.

Liverpool ended their four-match Premiership losing streak, but they have now taken just two points from a possible 21 and their title challenge is fading fast.

The level of passion shown by the fans was matched by the players, but the spectacle never lived up to its billing.

It's the nature of true champions that you overcome these situations

Gerard Houllier

John Arne Riise had the first shot of note, his well-controlled low volley from Danny Murphy's corner being well caught by Everton keeper Richard Wright.

But Everton were fuming on 15 minutes when Stephane Henchoz handled inside the box, only for referee Graham Poll to award him a free-kick for a push by Radzinski.

Murphy picked out Michael Owen with a free-kick on 22 minutes, although the England striker headed wide.

Liverpool enjoyed more early possession, with Steven Gerrard always industrious in midfield but Everton, to their credit, closed down their opponents at every opportunity.

Steven Gerrard goes in hard on Everton's Gary Naysmith
Gerrard's late tackle on Naysmith caused controversy

Neither side had produced flowing football, and Riise's miskick on 38 minutes after Gerrard's astute pass summed up the scrappy nature of the first half.

But the game sparked into life in the closing minutes, with Gerrard's first-time strike forcing Wright into a tidy save, and Kirkland showing athleticism to tip away Lee Carsley's dipping effort.

Then Riise's low shot forced a diving save from Wright in injury time, the last action of the half.

Emile Heskey came on as a 50th-minute substitute for Djimi Traore, and he nearly made an immediate impact, heading wide from Gerrard's free-kick.

Everton made a change of their own on 55 minutes, the introduction of Wayne Rooney for Radzinski drawing a huge cheer from their own fans.

The teenager soon made an impression on Kirkland, his physical challenge leaving the goalkeeper limping.

Murphy saw a shot deflected, and Wright comfortably saved a Sami Hyppia header, but the match remained finely balanced as it went into the final 20 minutes.

I'm not going to say anything stupid like we will win the championship or qualify for Europe

David Moyes

Skill was in short supply, but Rooney lit up Anfield on 73 minutes with a fine turn and strike which deflected off Henchoz's leg and on to the bar with Kirkland beaten.

David Weir and Kevin Campbell were booked late on as tempers frayed, and there was then an unseemly fracas after Gerrard jumped in two-footed on Gary Naysmith - although he escaped censure from Poll.


Liverpool: Kirkland, Carragher, Henchoz, Hyypia, Traore (Heskey 52), Murphy, Gerrard, Diao (Smicer 52), Riise, Baros, Owen.
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Diouf, Biscan.

Booked: Traore, Henchoz, Carragher.

Everton: Wright, Hibbert (Watson 60), Weir, Stubbs, Pistone, Carsley, Gravesen, Pembridge, Naysmith, Campbell, Radzinski (Rooney 55).
Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Tie Li, Gemmill.

Booked: Gravesen, Weir, Campbell, Naysmith.

Att: 44,025

Ref: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Sport's John Murray
"It was a match absent of goalscoring opportunities"
 Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier
"We had more chances"
 Everton boss David Moyes
"It's a good point for us"
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