Phil Jagielka produced a spectacular injury-time equaliser to earn Everton a point at Anfield.
The hosts looked to have the 3 points wrapped up through Steven Gerrard’s 65th-minute free-kick but, with 91 minutes on the clock, Jagielka, who had not scored for Everton since April 2013, let fly with an effort that gave Simon Mignolet no chance.
There was a surprise in the Everton team, with veteran full-back Tony Hibbert making his first league start since December 2012 in place of the injured Seamus Coleman.
Midfielder Muhamed Besic made his first league start for the visitors while Liverpool were again without influential striker Daniel Sturridge, who had targeted a return in this game from a thigh injury.
The game began in typical derby fashion with a flurry of early incidents, starting with Gareth Barry’s booking for taking out Liverpool’s Adam Lallana inside the first 45 seconds.
There could have been an early penalty at either end, firstly when Alberto Moreno tugged back Everton striker Romelu Lukaku and then when Raheem Sterling’s shot hit Barry’s hand.
Everton’s defence, which had conceded 17 goals in the seven games, succeeded in keeping Liverpool attack at arms’ length until Leighton Baines was deemed by Martin Atkinson to have fouled Balotelli on the edge of the box.
Gerrard curled his free-kick over the wall and beyond Howard, who got a hand to the ball but could not keep it out. 1-0.
Everton looked set to collapse, when two minutes later Balotelli nearly put the game beyond doubt when he got on the end of Sterling’s cross, but his effort from six yards hit the bar.
Roberto Martinez sent on Tyias Browning for his debut in place of Hibbert, while Samuel Eto’o came on for Besic as Everton looked to equalise. It never looked like coming, until Jagielka did this;