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Ancelotti praises Everton character in derby draw

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The manager was pleased with his side’s reaction to come from behind twice

FBL-ENG-PR-EVERTON-LIVERPOOL Photo by PETER BYRNE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Everton were far from their best today as the defending league champions Liverpool came visiting the table-toppers, but were still able to pick up a point from the clash.

The Reds had taken an early lead through Sadio Mane, but a header from Michael Keane allowed the hosts to draw level in a first half they didn’t really get a foothold on. The visitors then took the lead again in the second from a Mohamed Salah goal, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin made it ten goals in seven games played this season and drew the Blues level again.

There was late drama too as Liverpool looked to have won it after Jordan Pickford let a Jordan Henderson shot past him, but VAR stepped in to overturn the goal when Mane was adjudged to be just offside. Pickford can count himself lucky to still be on the pitch after a crunching tackle on Virgil van Dijk early on was not punished since the play was called for offside already.

Speaking after the game, manager Carlo Ancelotti was happy to see his side’s gritty showing under pressure.

“The feeling is good, we wanted to compete and we did. It was a good performance, with good spirit, which was what we needed in this game.

“We showed character, we were able to equalise two times and didn’t lose confidence [either time they fell behind]. We were down but kept fighting until the end. You need to have these kinds of games.

“I said to the players, we could have lost the game [playing this way] and been sad but it wouldn’t have affected our belief for this season or in this moment. If the performance was not good, we would have been affected.

“But the performance, in my opinion, was really good. We played one of the best teams in Europe and were there to fight at the same level with them, which was very important for us.

“It was a difficult game with a lot of emotion on the bench and I had some words with Jurgen [Klopp]. But, at the end, we are really satisfied.”

Pickford was forced to make a few good saves as well, keeping out Joel Matip, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mane during the game. Captain Seamus Coleman left with a hamstring ailment after just half an hour, with new signing Ben Godfrey making his Toffees debut thrown into the fires of a passionate derby.

“Ben was fantastic, we signed him as a centre-back, not a right-back, but he has the quality to play in that position. He had a little bit of a problem in the beginning when he came on the pitch but in the second half he was really good against Mane, who is a dangerous player. Congratulations to him. He was ready and will be ready for the future.

“Jordan did well, it was a good performance, he was focused… good for him. A good performance. I am not worried.

“The signings in the summer were really good. We were focused on this to improve. I think the squad improved and we are looking forward.

“The second goal was fantastic and our set-pieces were well prepared yesterday.”

Speaking on Match of the Day, Ancelotti praised the attitude in the derby and felt his side came through the test well, even if the disallowed fifth goal would have stood.

“It was terrific. It was a good game in general. Exciting game. Lot of fight, lot of pressing, lot of intensity. We competed with them. We were 1-0 down and equalised, 2-1 down and equalised.

“It was a good test and I have a good feeling. To know we can compete with the champions of the last season it gives us more confidence for the future.

“I hoped the goal was offside. If we lost my feeling would not have changed.”

He reserved a comment for Calvert-Lewin, whose incredible leaping ability allowed him to get the edge for his equalizer.

“It’s genetic. Thank goodness he has it and is using it very well.”

Ancelotti also provided an update on Coleman -

“Seamus Coleman has a hamstring injury. We will probably have Jonjoe Kenny for the next game.”