Michael Keane offered an impressive performance in Everton’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool on Saturday, standing out in the Merseyside Derby with pinpoint vision and an eye for goal.
Carlo Ancelotti awarded the 27-year-old his 115th appearance for the Goodison Park outfit since a then-club record-equalling £30million move from Burnley in 2017, and continuing a run of opening the Toffees’ last 16 Premier League games.
Keane was unable to help goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to his 39th Blues clean sheet, but there was little the centre-half could have done to prevent Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah from firing past his fellow England international.
Mane broke the deadlock inside the third minute of the Merseyside Derby having run off the shoulder of Abdoulaye Doucoure and behind Yerry Mina to find the space in-between Everton’s two centre-halves, poking home Andrew Robertson’s delivery with a powerful effort into the top corner.
Mina was then at fault for Liverpool’s second of the match when he calamitously attempted to volley away Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross with the outside of his right boot despite running back toward his own goal, leaving the ball falling perfectly falling into Salah’s path to volley in his sixth of the Premier League season.
Everton’s Colombia international was otherwise alert to a number of Liverpool’s attacks as Mina and Keane combined well to mostly thwart Jurgen Klopp’s title-holders, and restrict the Anfield outfit to striking just 36% of their shots on target.
Keane also demonstrated his eye for goal to head home James Rodriguez’s corner to initially equalise the Merseyside Derby following Mane’s early effort, marking his second of the league campaign after scoring in Everton’s 5-2 win over West Bromwich Albion last month.
Beyond his goal in the 19th-minute, Keane impressed against Liverpool on route to a 7.6/10 match rating from SofaScore, having recorded 65 touches, completed 44 of his 52 passes (84.6%), played one key ball and scored from his only effort of the game.
The £65,000-per-week defender also won each of his two aerial duels, one of his two ground duels, was never dribbled past, made one tackle, two clearances and blocked two shots, while displaying his pinpoint vision to find teammates with seven of ten attempted long balls.
No outfield Everton player who started against Liverpool registered a higher number of accurate long passes on Saturday, with James Rodriguez’s six from seven the next-best tally while star left-back Lucas Digne misplaced eight of his nine attempted long balls.
Rodriguez has often ranked highly for accurate passes in the Toffees’ league fixtures since his summer arrival from Real Madrid, with the 29-year-old’s average 6.8 accurate long balls a game the best in Royal Blue by an outfield player ahead of Keane (5.0) and Digne (3.0).