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Coutinho returns to form in Liverpool’s derby win

4:47 PM IST 03/04/17
Liverpool, Everton, Premier League, Malaysia Airlines, 03/04/2017
Reds notch a derby double over city rivals Everton, but lose Mane to injury.

Liverpool painted the town red - by doing the derby double over Merseyside rivals Everton for the first time in five years. The Reds followed up on their 1-0 away win in December with a comprehensive 3-1 victory at Anfield that propelled them to third in the Premier League table.

Since the beginning of March, Liverpool have been unbeaten and have been showing a real sense of purpose. That winning feeling seems to have rubbed off on their attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who wreaked havoc on the Everton defence, eventually scoring a goal and assisting another.

The Brazilian returned to action in January after recovering from an ankle injury. Over the week, Jürgen Klopp watched him and his compatriot Roberto Firmino, as the pair helped Brazil become the first team to qualify for the World Cup 2018, and was impressed by Coutinho’s contribution against Paraguay – which included a goal. The forwards’ form held strong, living up to the hype in his 73 minutes of derby game time.

The only glitch for the hosts was an injury to Sadio Mane, who has been in brilliant form but had to be substituted after a collision with Everton’s Leighton Baines. The Senegalese attacker seemed to have twisted his ankle while trying to win a loose ball. His impact on the game was crucial as well, as he put his side ahead after just eight minutes.

Mane has now been involved in 18 Premier League goals this campaign, scoring 13 and assisting five – his best in a season. He also became the first player since Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in the 2013-14 season to score in both legs of the Merseyside derby.

“Today we played a really good game. Nearly everything was perfect, we win it, the performance was good [but] then we lose Sadio Mane," manager Jürgen Klopp said later.

Substitute Divock Origi went on to score Liverpool’s third just a few minutes after coming on.

Liverpool are now unbeaten in 13 league derbies against Everton. More importantly though, the win is an immense boost to their quest for a return to Champions League. Although Liverpool has played two more matches than the two Manchester clubs, they sit in third spot, with 59 points from their 30 games.