New Liverpool era begins with 2-0 loss at Everton
Liverpool: Liverpool owner John W Henry was handed an immediate demonstration of the problems facing Roy Hodgson and his new club as he witnessed a 2-0 defeat at Everton that left his club mired in the Premier League relegation zone.
Goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta condemned Liverpool to a demoralising defeat on a day when the attention finally switched to on-field matters after Henry`s protracted and bitter 300-million-pound purchase of the club from fellow Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett.
It will have taken the new owners, seated in the Goodison directors` box, just 34 minutes to appreciate the size of the task they face in turning their new property into a team capable of competing with the very best in England, let alone Europe.
That was the length of time required for Everton to turn a dominant first half display into a goal, one carved out by a superb run from young Irish midfielder Seamus Coleman.
He skipped past three challenges, the last a despairing lunge from Paul Konchesky, before pulling the ball back from the right-hand by-line for Cahill to beat Jose Reina with a flourishing finish from six yards.
The only surprise was that it had taken Everton that length of time to convert possession and pressure into a lead.
In a physical and highly-emotional opening to the game, the first shot of the encounter came from Everton defender Phil Jagielka who scooped his effort well over from a promising position after 11 minutes; an attempt mirrored soon after by fellow centre-half Sylvain Distin who changed feet neatly in the area but still failed to hit the target from 15 yards.
Midway through the period, Everton were almost caught out as Liverpool launched their first concerted attack and Fernando Torres` near-post header, from a Joe Cole centre, was turned over by the alert Tim Howard.
But that was a rare respite for the beleaguered visitors as Yakubu and Cahill soon launched a swift counter-attack culminating in the former chancing his arm with a shot from the edge of the area which Reina saved at full stretch.
The contest was decidedly shifting in Everton`s favour and, even when Raul Meireles saw a strong shot blocked, he blotted his copybook when hauling down Yakubu as he attempted to break towards the Liverpool goal.
Meireles was one of three first half bookings - Maxi Rodriguez of Liverpool and Cahill the others - although there appeared little consistency in Howard Webb`s officiating and several other players could count themselves fortunate not to have joined them in the book.
Leon Osman ended the first period re-asserting Everton`s control with Reina forced to gather his sharp, stinging 20-yard strike and, while there appeared a momentary upsurge in Liverpool attitude and energy after the re-start, the optimism was short-lived for the visitors.
The second half opened with Rodriguez unleashing a fierce shot from the edge of the area, well held by Howard, but within five minutes Everton doubled their lead through Arteta, crashing in a rasping shot from the edge of the area.
Yakubu failed to connect with a cross from Dimitar Bilyaletdinov moments later, as Everton looked to really kill off the game, while Meireles tried a pair of hopeful long-range attempts which Howard dealt with easily, a sign of Liverpool`s growing desperation.
Jagielka volleyed wide from yet another Everton onslaught and substitute Jermaine Beckford had a strong penalty appeal rejected after apparent contact from Martin Skrtel and Liverpool`s frustrations were compounded as Torres saw a late, close-range shot well saved and followed up by being booked for an unnecessary trip on Cahill.