When talking about football in 2020, VAR always takes centre stage. And, once again, in one of the most highly-anticipated Merseyside derby’s in recent times, it was the technology which stole the headlines to deny Jordan Henderson the winning goal and rescue Everton a well-fought point at Goodison Park.
VAR Comes to Everton’s Rescue in Derby Draw
Lightning Quick Liverpool Halted by Van Dijk Injury
The game, which ended level, began with Liverpool dominance and this soon signalled the early opener, courtesy of Sadio Mane’s first-time finish. As an assertive Liverpool continued to press and probe, however, an injury to Virgil Van Dijk gave Everton a much-needed boost.
The moment of first-half controversy came as Van Dijk beat the incoming Jordan Pickford to the loose ball before being wiped out by the Everton shot-stopper who escaped without punishment due to the earlier offside call. Many argued that the sending off should have came, despite the offside call, but as Van Dijk departed, Pickford controversially kept his place between the sticks.
And the Dutchman’s absence soon proved to be the difference as Michael Keane latched onto the James Rodriguez corner for the equaliser against the run of play.
The two goals, within the opening 20 minutes, gave both Carlo Ancelotti and Jurgen Klopp plenty to think about as the second half whistle signalled the chance for the winner; a winner Liverpool thought they had twice in the second period.
VAR Steals the Headlines as Salah Reaches Century
The first goal of the half, and what Liverpool would have hoped to have been the winner, arrived with 18 minutes to go through Mohamed Salah who smashed home in some style for his 100th Liverpool goal. The century scoring moment came at the perfect time; as if the Egyptian saved the moment for the biggest of occasions.
And it should have been the winner. The Reds looked comfortable and class; an Everton goal looked unlikely. Yet, as the clock struck the 80th minute, Dominic Calvert-Lewin was wheeling away in celebration having headed home the equalising goal. One moment of lost focus and Liverpool had gifted Everton a point despite looking so in control.
The drama was far from over, however, with 10 minutes left to go. Instead, it only increased as the clock ticked over. First, came the Richarlison red card; a deserved one too, as he caught Thiago Alcantara with a potential leg breaker. Then, with two minutes left, the home side misery and loss should have been confirmed, but for VAR’s intervention.
Thiago’s pass to Sadio Mane was threaded through the eye of a needle; the Spaniard couldn’t have played a more suitable ball on the naked eye. Yet, as Mane whipped the ball into the incoming Henderson’s feet who followed with the finish and celebration, it was VAR which soon rained down on the short-lived VAR parade.
It seems when looking at the replay as though the only people who spotted the offside call was, in fact, those in the VAR room. It was the finest and most unnecessary of margins which we see a goal ruled out for with each passing week. Liverpool will feel robbed. Everton should feel fortunate.
The result leaves the Toffees top, no matter other games, but the Liverpool performance, despite the end result, sets a timely reminder of their credentials.
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