LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers accused Everton forward Kevin Mirallas of a “naughty” potentially career-ending tackle on Luis Suarez which deserved a red card.
The Belgium international, who had a hand in all Everton’s goals in the 3-3 Merseyside derby draw, escaped with a booking for his knee-high challenge.
Rodgers, who also made a veiled criticism of England for playing unfit striker Daniel Sturridge for 90 minutes in the midweek friendly against Germany, felt Mirallas was lucky not to be sent off.
“I thought Mirallas should have been sent off. It would’ve been interesting if Luis made the challenge,” said Rodgers. “I have seen Kevin for a few years and he looks a real honest player but if you look at it in every way, real time and slow motion, it is a bad challenge.
“He caught him on the back of his knee and that can end your career. It was awful jumping in like that and it took Luis ten or 15 minutes to try to run it off and he [Mirallas] had another one by the touchline where he’s jumped up and come down on the back of Luis.
“He [Suarez] is a player who can look after himself on the pitch, he is a strong player, but I just think it was a bad challenge.
“It wouldn’t matter if it was on Luis or someone else it was a naughty challenge. You don’t want to see people getting sent off but if they should be than that’s what should happen.”
Sturridge came off the bench to salvage a point with an 89th-minute header after two goals from Romelu Lukaku had turned around Liverpool’s 2-1 advantage with Philippe Coutinho and Suarez scoring either side of Mirallas.
Rodgers decided the striker, who has been playing with a dead leg, was not fit to start after being over-played at Wembley.
“He had obviously not trained and he played 90 minutes [against Germany] and anyone who saw the game could tell he was not fit,” added the Reds boss. “Because he played 90 minutes he couldn’t train because he has to recover. His first action on the field was Friday and he was nowhere near ready to start. I said to him before the game he has been a match-winner for us since he came in but he may have to do it from the bench. Thankfully he came in and got a great header.”
Lukaku hailed the Merseyside derby as his “best experience in club football”. He said. “To play in such a derby is a great honour and to score two goals is great but the pity is we didn’t win.”
Coutinho opened the scoring from Steven Gerrard’s fifth-minute corner, smashing in a shot at the far post. Within three minutes Ross Barkley got to Leighton Baines’ free-kick ahead of Martin Skrtel and diverted it to Mirallas, who stabbed home. Suarez curled a brilliant free-kick through the tiny gap at the end of an Everton wall to put Liverpool back ahead after 19 minutes
In the second half, Simon Mignolet denied Lukaku three times as Everton pushed for the equaliser. But, from the last effort, the Belgium international could only parry his compatriot’s free-kick and when Mirallas crossed back in Lukaku seized on McCarthy’s deflection to ram home. And there was no stopping Lukaku’s powerful header from a corner eight minutes from time.
That appeared to have settled it until Sturridge nodded home Gerrard’s free-kick.