Everton avoided a Merseyside derby loss for the first time since March 2019 on Sunday as they valiantly battled to a 0-0 draw with league leaders Liverpool.

With Everton sunk deep into their defensive third from the off, the champions-elect began much the better side as they utilised the acres of space available, piling consistent pressure onto the cautious back line.

The Toffees could resort only to counterattacking football, often pumping the ball up the field towards their fast forwards, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.

It was a similar story for the entire first half. Liverpool were camped around Everton’s penalty area but found themselves unable to make the incisive final pass that an opening goal would require. Each side managed just a solitary shot on target before the break, neither of which would have gotten the better of many Premier League goalkeepers.

An injury for Liverpool skipper James Milner served as a stark reminder of the bleak time the nation finds itself in, as, devoid of fitness, the 34-year-old pulled up lame with a suspected hamstring problem.

Everton’s resolute defending continued deep into the second half as Ancelotti’s men absorbed wave-after-wave of the Reds’ devastating striking threat, which has already chalked up 66 goals this season.

A rapid counterattack saw Calvert-Lewin force a splendid save from Alisson from a fancy flick. Midfielder Tom Davies met the rebound but his first-time strike clipped the outside of the far post with what was until then the best chance of the match.

The hosts subsequently sprung into life with another opportunity immediately after, when Richarlison broke free and was presented with a chance to hook the ball back into the box or shoot. The often-criticised striker decided on the latter and fired a shot from a near-impossible angle, Alisson batted away comfortably.

The scoreless draw saw the Toffees move above Newcastle United, who beat Sheffield United 3-0 earlier in the day, into 12th place, only six points adrift of the Europa League spots.

Liverpool remain, unsurprisingly, in pole position, 23 points clear of Manchester City, the only side who can still catch them with eight matches remaining.