EVERTON 1 LIVERPOOL 0 Aet; 0-0 after 90 min
That Evertonian song that asks if you know your history, which resounds around Goodison Park in good times and bad, was being belted out on the streets around the stadium last night louder than ever. The history in question, however, was made last night by a 19- year-old, kid Dan Gosling, who scored the goal that decided an FA Cup tie after 208 minutes and a whole load of blood, sweat and tears.
Low on quality, high on drama, the third instalment in 17 days of the Merseyside rivalry was decided by a boy from Devon who was thrown in because his manager, David Moyes, had simply run out of alternatives in attack. Gosling, who turned 19 only three days ago, was signed from Plymouth Argyle this time last year and has already written himself into the bitter, fearsome rivalry of these two clubs that has run for more than a century.
Last night belonged to Everton, who finally overcame an opposition bereft of Steven Gerrard, withdrawn injured after 15 minutes, and down to 10 men after Lucas Leiva's red card on 75 minutes. The problems in Rafael Benitez's side are evident for all to see, but it took a dogged, unflinching Everton team finally to put them away and for that Moyes deserves the credit. He began the day dealing with Victor Anichebe's refusal to play; he ended it with arguably the greatest result in his seven years at the club.
For 118 minutes it was one of the worst FA Cup ties in living memory. Never mind that because all anyone from the blue half of this city will remember is the dramatic moment when Gosling got the ball out from between his feet and hit a shot that deflected off Alvaro Arbeloa and Martin Skrtel to beat Pepe Reina at his far post.
Before then Liverpool had dug in for penalties and who could blame them? They have won 10 out of their last 11 penalty shoot- outs. Reduced to 10 men, with Torres a shadow of his usual predatory self before he was substituted, they became entrenched. Everton, lacking any height in attack and with Marouane Fellaini off injured, looked like they might be play for another 120 minutes before they found a way of breaking Liverpool down.
Incredibly it was Andy van der Meyde, on the pitch only because Moyes had no one else to turn to, who hit the cross that Gosling ultimately finished. It was always likely to take something special, and a cross from a man whose troubled private life means that he has appeared only 15 times for Everton, was that something special. Jamie Carragher and Skrtel had been excellent all night, it was just for those last few minutes that they could not hold out.
What of Liverpool? They have endured a week as chaotic as the performance of ITV's match director last night. The injury to Gerrard, the decision to leave out Javier Mascherano last night in favour of Lucas, the absence of a cutting edge when Torres is not on form - it is enough to shake the faith of even the most stubborn Rafa loyalist. When Gerrard departed, Benitez switched to 4-4-2, with Dirk Kuyt in attack with Torres; typical that as soon as Keane leaves, Liverpool start playing the system in which he thrives.
It took around 15 minutes for this game to come to life and when it did, it did so with the predictable fervour and aggression of a derby teetering on the edge of chaos. …