REUTERS - Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez courted more controversy as he inspired Liverpool into a two-goal lead against Everton in a thrilling Merseyside derby that ended 2-2 at Goodison Park on Sunday.
Suarez’s low cross was turned into his own net by Leighton Baines after 14 minutes and he then doubled his side’s lead five minutes later with a glancing header.
Everton battled back to earn a draw with goals from Leon Osman and Steven Naismith before halftime but it was Suarez who guaranteed he would be making the headlines.
Heavily criticised before the match by Everton manager David Moyes for his perceived habit of diving, he celebrated Liverpool’s first goal by racing over to the Everton dugout and throwing himself theatrically to the ground.
Moyes was clearly not amused although he later made light of the incident, appearing more angry with Suarez treading on the leg of Everton defender Sylvain Distin in the second half, for which Suarez received a yellow card.
“I thought it was great, I would probably have done the same, but he is going to have to dive in front of a lot of managers now,” Moyes said of the Suarez theatrics.
“He was a very lucky man to stay on the park because of his tackle.”
Moyes said he had also spoken to his own player Phil Neville after he was booked for diving in the first half.
“Phil Neville went down too easily so I have had a word with him about it,” Moyes added.
Neville, a rugged midfielder not normally associated with such antics, admitted he had got a rocket from his manager.
“It was a stupid thing to do by myself,” Neville said. “I thought Daniel Agger was going to come in and take me out. I got a good kick up the back side at halftime and I won’t do it again, that’s for sure.”
Liverpool had looked to be cruising to victory in the 219th Merseyside derby when they went 2-0 up with only 21 minutes on the clock.
Suarez, central to most of the game’s incidents, pounced in the 14th minute to fire in a low shot that deflected off the legs of England defender Baines.
Liverpool were 2-0 up five minutes later when Steven Gerrard’s inviting free kick was met by Suarez whose header was beyond the reach of Everton keeper Tim Howard.
The visiting celebrations were cut short, however, as a minute later Liverpool failed to clear a corner properly and Osman thumped home a shot past keeper Brad Jones.
Everton suddenly came alive and they were level shortly after the half hour mark when Marouane Fellaini crossed for Naismith to stab home the equaliser.
The hosts went for the three points after the break and had the better chances although Suarez thought he had sealed it for Liverpool in the final minute of stoppage time but his effort was ruled out by the linesman.
”The goal at the end was clearly a goal and we are disappointed not to get it,“ Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers told the BBC. ”I think the linesman gave it but everyone in the ground thought it was a goal.
“That should have been a goal and an outstanding hat-trick for Luis Suarez.”
Everton drop to fifth place with 16 points from nine games while Liverpool remain rooted in mid-table after a stuttering start to the season has seen them take just 10 points.
“It was a good game, really exciting, a disappointing start but our boys showed great character to come back and I thought we were a bit unfortunate to not to go in 3-2 up at halftime,” Moyes added.
Writing by Martyn Herman and Josh Reich, editing by Justin Palmer