Everton manager Frank Lampard has praised the brilliance displayed by Mohamed Salah as the reason Liverpool secured a 2-0 Premier League win against his side on Sunday.
After a 0-0 score at the end of the first half, it was the 29-year-old Egypt international, who set up Andy Robertson to break the deadlock in the 62nd minute before Divock Origi headed home the winner with only five minutes left to the final whistle.
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The defeat handed the Toffees their 240th defeat in the Merseyside derby at Anfield and Lampard has confessed it took a clever piece of play from Salah to unlock his side and hence the outcome.
“The gameplan was formed understanding they are one of the best teams in the world,” Lampard said after the game as quoted by the Everton website. “Could we be disciplined and work hard within that? Yes.
“Could we break and create chances? Yes. They didn’t threaten our goal at all in the first half and we had a couple of opportunities: [Abdoulaye] Doucoure running through and moments in their box.
“If we’d scored the first goal, the game would have felt completely different.”
The former Chelsea midfielder continued: “But you know with Liverpool, they can produce a moment of brilliance, like Salah for the first goal, or [hurt you with their] aggressive nature; an overhead kick bounced into the floor and landed on Origi’s head.
“I couldn’t have asked for much more from the players. We are not in a position to go toe-to-toe with Liverpool. We are in a position to be smart and we were smart for 60 minutes.”
In a separate interview, Lampard believes Everton deserved to get a penalty in the derby after tackles from Guinea international Naby Keita and Joel Matip.
“It’s a penalty in the second half for us. I don’t think you get them here,” Lampard said as quoted by Metro. “If it’s Mo Salah at their end, he gets a penalty. I’m not trying to create a conflict here, it’s just the reality of football sometimes.
“Maybe I’ve played at clubs when we’re in the top reaches of the league, the crowd is behind them and you get them or you don’t. For me, for sure, it was a penalty on Anthony. It’s a foul and you don’t get them here.
“I think they are open to it now but it is gone. It is a disappointment; in the cold light of day I think it is a penalty.”
Everton will shift their focus to a home game against Chelsea on Sunday while Liverpool will host Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final clash on Wednesday, before returning to league action against Newcastle United on Saturday.