Everton late show denies Liverpool
© AFP

Tim Cahill denied Liverpool top spot in the Premier League after the Everton player pounced four minutes from time as a thrilling Merseyside derby ended 1-1 at Anfield on Monday.

Steven Gerrard, captaining his club for the 250th time in his career, thought he had sent Rafa Benitez's side back to the summit after breaking the deadlock with a superb long-range finish in the 68th minute, the England international's 14th goal of the season. But Australian international Cahill had the last say as he pounced in the 86th minute after the Liverpool defence had failed to deal properly with a set-piece.

Everton's success this season has been built on a backs-to-the-wall, hard-to-beat mentality which has served them well in the absence of injured strikers Yakubu and Louis Saha. They arrived at Anfield boasting one of the best away records in the top-tier and, despite their lack of firepower, it took just 35 seconds for Moyes's side to show they were not at Anfield to make up the numbers as Victor Anichebe forced a full-stretch save from Jose Reina.

This fixture has been tarnished in recent years by a flurry of red cards which has resulted in 15 players being sent off in the last 19 meetings between the two clubs. Six Everton players have been dismissed in the last three years alone against Liverpool yet referee Howard Webb kept his red card in his top pocket and seemed reluctant to brandish a yellow one. Mikel Arteta was fortunate to escape a caution for his late challenge on Gerrard as the game descended into a niggly affair after a high-octane start. Phil Jagielka, too, got off lightly after chopping down Keane during a scrappy first half.

Benitez had outlined his intentions on the teamsheet by naming one of his most attacking sides of the season, Torres starting for the first time since 26 November alongside the recalled Robbie Keane. Yet it was Reina who continued to be the busier of the two keepers, the Spaniard kept on his toes by Cahill's 26th minute header following a dangerous cross by the industrious Anichebe.

Torres, with his injury problems behind him, was looking to become the first Reds player in the history of the club to net four in a row against Everton having scored his side's last three in Merseyside derbies.  The Spanish striker went agonisingly close to achieving that feat after Sami Hyypia had carved open the visitors defence in the 28th minute soon after Torres had been felled by Steven Pienaar which earned Everton's South African midfielder a booking. Perhaps Torres was feeling rusty after his recent lay-off but his effort, to Everton's relief, shaved the outside of the post and the home side's best chance of the opening 45 minutes was gone.

Having started the half confidently, Everton were relieved to hear the half time whistle as Albert Riera dispatched a ferocious long range effort narrowly wide of Tim Howard's post two minutes before the break.

Liverpool continued to probe the visitors defence at the break, Howard spilling Gerrard's 55th minute effort only for Sami Hyypia to smash the rebound high into the Kop. Everton began to visibly tire with Benitez's side winning a string of corners yet they were unable to force home an advantage from the set-pieces.

Torres went close again from just outside the area but Liverpool appeared to be heading for another night of frustration before Gerrard had the last say. Soon after Webb had waved away Everton claims for a penalty when Anichebe went down under a challenge by Martin Skrtel, Liverpool's second half pressure paid off when Gerrard let fly from 25-yards, Howard beaten by the ferocity of the effort.

But Liverpool's celebrations were cut short as Cahill pounced to give Everton a deserved point.