Liverpool maintained their pursuit of a top-four place in magnificent style as Everton were thrashed in the Merseyside derby at Anfield.

Billed as the most crucial league meeting between the sides in 30 years, the contest was all over inside 35 minutes as Liverpool raced into a three-goal lead courtesy of Steven Gerrard's header and two goals in three minutes from striker Daniel Sturridge.

Everton's agony was increased as Romelu Lukaku was taken off on a stretcher with ankle ligament damage after Gareth Barry slipped and slid into the striker as he attempted to block Gerrard's opening goal.

Rodgers hails 'outstanding' Liverpool

Luis Suarez added a fourth for the hosts when he cashed in on Phil Jagielka's mistake and Sturridge wasted the opportunity to secure a derby hat-trick when he blazed a penalty over the top after Raheem Sterling was fouled by keeper Tim Howard.

This emphatic victory, Liverpool's biggest derby triumph since November 1982, allowed them to open up a four-point gap over their neighbours - but the biggest worry for visiting manager Roberto Martinez may be the psychological damage inflicted, as well as the worry over the stricken Lukaku.

It left the Toffees still searching for their first win at Anfield since September 1999 - and there was never any serious hope they might alter that miserable record on a night of Reds dominance.

For Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, this win will be further evidence that his side can seal a top-four place and maybe achieve even greater things with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City still to come to Anfield this season.

Martinez produced something of a surprise when he recalled Ross Barkley after a broken toe, while captain Jagielka recovered from a hamstring problem picked up in the FA Cup win at Stevenage.

And Barkley almost made the perfect comeback in the opening minute with an ambitious rising drive from 25 yards that was inches over with Reds keeper Simon Mignolet stretching.

Millennium bug

Liverpool are now unbeaten in the last 14 Premier League Merseyside derbies at Anfield, with Everton's last away win coming courtesy of a Kevin Campbell goal in 1999

After this moment of optimism it was all downhill for Everton, however, not only in the manner in which they were dismantled by Liverpool's attacks but with the crucial loss of Lukaku.

Howard had already saved from Jordan Henderson, Suarez and Sterling before Liverpool went ahead after 21 minutes in an incident that had short- and long-term consequences for Everton and Martinez.

Barry slipped as he tried to track Gerrard at Suarez's corner, allowing the Anfield captain to head in powerfully but also taking out Lukaku, who was carried off on a stretcher with ankle damage after lengthy treatment.

Everton were at last sparked into action as Jagielka's shot was saved by Mignolet and Kevin Mirallas was just off target - but the home side were a constant threat and swiftly added a second.

Youngster John Stones lost Sturridge and the England forward raced on to Philippe Coutinho's pass to loft a cool finish over Howard, a chance the in-form striker never looked like missing.

The visitors were in defensive disarray and Sturridge added another two minutes later, taking advantage of open spaces to accept Kolo Toure's pass and lob Howard brilliantly.

Everton lacked awareness - Martinez

Martinez sent on Leon Osman for Pienaar at half-time and the veteran had a shot well saved by Mignolet before normal service was resumed.

The normally reliably Jagielka was having an unhappy evening and he was the culprit as Everton fell further behind five minutes after the break, conceding possession to Suarez and never having the pace required to catch the striker as he raced half the length of the field to beat Howard.

Liverpool should have inflicted further punishment on Everton when referee Martin Atkinson awarded a penalty after Howard pulled down Sterling. Sturridge took over penalty duties from Gerrard, presumably in search of his hat-trick, but lashed an awful effort high into the Kop.

Everton were left with no hope other than restricting the damage. They achieved this minor objective - how they recover from the way they were taken apart by a rampant Liverpool remains to be seen.

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Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (6)

Liverpool

  • 22 Mignolet
  • 38 Flanagan (Kelly - 73' )
  • 20 Cissokho
  • 08 Gerrard
  • 37 Skrtel
  • 04 Kolo Touré
  • 10 Coutinho (Luis Alberto - 79' )
  • 14 Henderson
  • 07 Suárez
  • 31 Sterling
  • 15 Sturridge (Moses - 72' )

Substitutes

  • 01 Jones
  • 06 Luis Alberto
  • 09 Iago Aspas
  • 12 Moses
  • 33 Ibe
  • 34 Kelly
  • 44 Smith

Everton

  • 24 Howard
  • 26 Stones
  • 03 Baines
  • 18 Barry Booked
  • 06 Jagielka
  • 32 Alcaraz
  • 11 Mirallas Booked
  • 16 McCarthy
  • 17 Lukaku (Naismith - 25' )
  • 20 Barkley (McGeady - 76' )
  • 22 Pienaar Booked (Osman - 45' )

Substitutes

  • 01 Robles
  • 02 Hibbert
  • 07 McGeady
  • 14 Naismith
  • 19 Gueye
  • 21 Osman
  • 29 Garbutt
Ref: Martin Atkinson
Att: 44,450

Match Stats

Shots

20 19

On target

9 4

Corners

5 8

Fouls

11 13

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Liverpool 4, Everton 0.

90:00 +3:03 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Liverpool 4, Everton 0.

90:00 +1:47

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by John Stones.

90:00 +1:46

Attempt blocked. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Luis Alberto.

90:00 +1:04

Leon Osman (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90:00 +1:04

Foul by Luis Alberto (Liverpool).

85:39

Attempt missed. Victor Moses (Liverpool) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Luis Alberto.

82:51

Foul by Antolin Alcaraz (Everton).

82:51

Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

82:38

Attempt missed. John Stones (Everton) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Kevin Mirallas with a cross following a corner.

82:17

Corner, Everton. Conceded by Victor Moses.

79:34

Leighton Baines (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

79:34

Foul by Luis Suárez (Liverpool).

78:57 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Liverpool. Luis Alberto replaces Philippe Coutinho.

77:26

Attempt saved. Leon Osman (Everton) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Steven Naismith.

76:00

Attempt blocked. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Aly Cissokho.

75:43 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Everton. Aiden McGeady replaces Ross Barkley.

73:32

Attempt missed. Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Philippe Coutinho.

72:38 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Liverpool. Martin Kelly replaces Jon Flanagan.

72:10

Foul by Leon Osman (Everton).

72:10

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

71:04 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Liverpool. Victor Moses replaces Daniel Sturridge.

69:44

Attempt missed. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is too high. Assisted by Philippe Coutinho following a fast break.

69:10

Corner, Everton. Conceded by Simon Mignolet.

69:08

Attempt saved. James McCarthy (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Leighton Baines.

66:39

Attempt missed. Antolin Alcaraz (Everton) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Kevin Mirallas with a cross following a corner.

66:21

Corner, Everton. Conceded by Simon Mignolet.

65:10

Kevin Mirallas (Everton) wins a free kick on the left wing.

65:10

Foul by Steven Gerrard (Liverpool).

62:57

Gareth Barry (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

62:57

Foul by Raheem Sterling (Liverpool).

61:41

Attempt blocked. Kevin Mirallas (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

60:50

Leon Osman (Everton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

60:50

Foul by Jon Flanagan (Liverpool).

59:17

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Tim Howard.

59:16

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) hits the left post with a right footed shot from the left side of the box. Assisted by Luis Suárez following a corner.

58:59

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Antolin Alcaraz.

58:14

Foul by Antolin Alcaraz (Everton).

58:14

Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.

56:19

Phil Jagielka (Everton) wins a free kick on the right wing.

56:19

Foul by Luis Suárez (Liverpool).

55:13

Foul by Leon Osman (Everton).

55:13

Jon Flanagan (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

55:05

Attempt blocked. Ross Barkley (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Gareth Barry.

54:25

Leon Osman (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

54:25

Foul by Steven Gerrard (Liverpool).

53:56

Penalty missed! Bad penalty by Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot is just a bit too high. Daniel Sturridge should be disappointed.

53:10

Penalty conceded by Tim Howard (Everton) after a foul in the penalty area.

53:10

Penalty Liverpool. Raheem Sterling draws a foul in the penalty area.

52:53

Attempt blocked. Kevin Mirallas (Everton) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Leon Osman.

51:28 Booking

Booking Kevin Mirallas (Everton) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

50:49

Foul by Kevin Mirallas (Everton).

50:49

Kolo Touré (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

49:17 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Liverpool 4, Everton 0. Luis Suárez (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner following a fast break.

48:57

Attempt saved. Leon Osman (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Leighton Baines.

47:44

Corner, Everton. Conceded by Steven Gerrard.

47:29

Attempt blocked. Ross Barkley (Everton) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

45:00

Second Half begins Liverpool 3, Everton 0.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Everton. Leon Osman replaces Steven Pienaar.

45:00 +3:03 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Liverpool 3, Everton 0.

45:00 +1:59 Booking

Booking Gareth Barry (Everton) is shown the yellow card.

45:00 +1:55

Foul by Gareth Barry (Everton).

45:00 +1:55

Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

45:00 +1:48

Attempt blocked. Ross Barkley (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Steven Pienaar.

45:00 +0:01

Attempt blocked. Kevin Mirallas (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ross Barkley.

43:24

Antolin Alcaraz (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

43:24

Foul by Luis Suárez (Liverpool).

42:47

Foul by Steven Pienaar (Everton).

42:47

Jon Flanagan (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

42:16

Corner, Everton. Conceded by Kolo Touré.

40:45

James McCarthy (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

40:45

Foul by Raheem Sterling (Liverpool).

40:06

Corner, Everton. Conceded by Martin Skrtel.

40:03

Attempt blocked. Gareth Barry (Everton) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Kevin Mirallas with a cross.

39:47

Corner, Everton. Conceded by Simon Mignolet.

38:13

Foul by Gareth Barry (Everton).

38:13

Luis Suárez (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

37:18 Booking

Booking Steven Pienaar (Everton) is shown the yellow card.

36:54

Steven Naismith (Everton) wins a free kick on the left wing.

36:54

Foul by Martin Skrtel (Liverpool).

34:26 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Liverpool 3, Everton 0. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Kolo Touré with a through ball.

33:42

Foul by James McCarthy (Everton).

33:42

Luis Suárez (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

32:18 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Liverpool 2, Everton 0. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Philippe Coutinho with a through ball following a fast break.

31:32

Attempt missed. Kevin Mirallas (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

30:10

Attempt missed. Gareth Barry (Everton) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.

30:06

Attempt saved. Phil Jagielka (Everton) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Kevin Mirallas.

29:28

Corner, Everton. Conceded by Aly Cissokho.

26:47

Gareth Barry (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

26:47

Foul by Jon Flanagan (Liverpool).

26:04

Attempt missed. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Luis Suárez.

25:40

Attempt blocked. Ross Barkley (Everton) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Steven Pienaar.

24:38 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Everton. Steven Naismith replaces Romelu Lukaku because of an injury.

23:20

Offside, Liverpool. Raheem Sterling tries a through ball, but Daniel Sturridge is caught offside.

23:01

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

21:58

Delay in match Romelu Lukaku (Everton) because of an injury.

20:39 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Liverpool 1, Everton 0. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Luis Suárez with a cross following a corner.

20:02

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by John Stones.

20:01

Attempt blocked. Luis Suárez (Liverpool) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jordan Henderson.

18:22

Foul by Gareth Barry (Everton).

18:22

Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

17:33

Attempt saved. Raheem Sterling (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Daniel Sturridge with a through ball.

17:13

Foul by Gareth Barry (Everton).

17:13

Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

16:18

Attempt missed. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Philippe Coutinho.

15:05

Attempt missed. Steven Pienaar (Everton) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.

14:36

Attempt saved. Luis Suárez (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

10:08

Attempt saved. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

9:35

Foul by Steven Pienaar (Everton).

9:35

Jon Flanagan (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.

7:45

Attempt missed. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Steven Gerrard following a corner.

7:13

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Tim Howard.

7:12

Attempt saved. Luis Suárez (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

6:42

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

5:54

Delay in match Steven Pienaar (Everton) because of an injury.

2:41

Attempt saved. Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

1:03

Attempt missed. Ross Barkley (Everton) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Kevin Mirallas.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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