Frustrations boiled over in the second half but there was not too much else to spark the Merseyside derby into life as Everton and Liverpool cancelled each other out in a 0-0 stalemate at Goodison Park.
The atmosphere was electric for this much-debated 5.30pm kick-off though both sets of fans left disappointed after a goalless encounter that for once did not live up to its pre-match billing.
The first half was a cagey affair but Liverpool looked like the brighter of the two sides. The Reds had more of the ball and provided a real heart-in-the mouth moment for Everton just before the half-hour mark which ultimately proved to be the closest anyone came to scoring.
The best chance was self-created by Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers’ surprise choice, Jordon Ibe. The 19-year-old might have been a shock inclusion to make only his second league start for the Reds but Ibe showed great confidence as he picked the ball up inside his own half and went on driving run before crashing a thunderous effort from just outside the area back off a post.
Liverpool started well in the second half too, racing out the blocks and playing high-tempo football that Everton struggled to keep up with but they could not convert their dominant possession by making anything of the opportunities they were creating all of the game.
Once again, Ibe took on Leighton Baines’ replacement left back Bryan Oveido to drive in a low cross but Alberto Moreno could not sort his feet out in time to strike a decent effort. Rickie Lambert, who came on to replace Raheem Sterling 10 minutes before the end, also scuffed a shot after a wonderful flicked through ball from Steven Gerrard.
Gerrard first appeared in a Merseyside derby 16 years ago but, playing in what could be his final meeting between the pair barring an unlikely fairytale Europa League tie, even he could not sign off with a memorable winner.
It almost seemed written in the stars that he would score and he almost did with an overhead kick after a corner was whipped in and headed back across by Mamadou Sakho, but a Steven Naismith header denied him.
Everton only managed one shot on target, coming four minutes before the end after a brilliant pass by substitute Ross Barkley into the path of Seamus Coleman, who often threatened Liverpool’s defence, and his resulting shot produced a fine flying save from Simon Mignolet.
The Toffees weren’t without their moments, as Naismith found himself with a wonderful opportunity in the first half when Coleman turned Sakho and Jordan Henderson inside-out to put in a lovely cross, but the miscued header fell straight into Mignolet’s hands.
Henderson and Naismith squared up to each other and both sets of players rushed into a late flashpoint which threatened to spoil the 224th derby, but order was soon restored and as the rivals pushed hard for a late winner, it was a case of too little too late for either side.