Dream derby for debu­tant Van Dijk

Liver­pool’s record sign­ing scores late win­ner to see off arch-ri­vals Ever­ton

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - Andy Hunter

The first in­stal­ment has been re­paid. Vir­gil van Dijk an­nounced his ar­rival as Liver­pool’s record sign­ing and the world’s most ex­pen­sive de­fender with an 85th-minute win­ner to knock Ever­ton out of the FA Cup, the first time the vis­i­tors have suf­fered that fate in their his­tory. There was no bet­ter way for Liver­pool’s debu­tant to re­spond to the pres­sure and ex­pec­ta­tion.

This had been an­other gru­elling derby en­counter for Jür­gen Klopp against a Sam Al­lardyce team and his re­ac­tion to Van Dijk’s late header spoke of re­lief. Liver­pool had led through a con­tro­ver­sial James Mil­ner penalty, con­ceded an equaliser to Gylfi Sig­urds­son and looked set for an un­wanted re­play un­til their new sign­ing’s in­ter­ven­tion. Phil Jagielka and Jor­dan Pick­ford were found want­ing at the win­ner but Van Dijk’s An­field ca­reer is up and run­ning in style.

Al­lardyce de­scribed the third-round tie as “a glory game” on Thurs­day but his pre-match pre­dic­tion was less ef­fu­sive.

“The one thing we won’t be do­ing is play­ing open, ex­pan­sive foot­ball,” the man­ager said of a club that spent ¤157m on new play­ers in the sum­mer and ¤30m on Fri­day on the Be­sik­tas striker Cenk To­sun. The Turkey in­ter­na­tional would have been in­cluded on the bench at An­field had he been reg­is­tered in time but the deal, worth ¤140,000 a week to the 26-year-old, was de­layed and bizarrely an­nounced by Ever­ton at half-time.

Yan­nick Bo­lasie’s re­turn from a 12-month in­jury lay-off was a sig­nif­i­cant fac­tor, with his will­ing­ness to at­tack An­drew Robert­son at least of­fer­ing Calvert-Lewin some sup­port. Ever­ton, how­ever, did not cre­ate one chance of note in the first half. But more sur­pris­ing was Liver­pool’s equal in­ef­fec­tive­ness in the fi­nal third.

For­ward op­tions

In mit­i­ga­tion Klopp’s for­ward op­tions were re­duced or not at their sharpest. Sa­dio Mané ar­rived back from the African Foot­baller of the Year awards in Ghana in the early hours of the morn­ing via pri­vate jet.

The win­ner, his team-mate Mo­hamed Salah, was ab­sent through in­jury along with the trans­fer win­dow dis­trac­tion that is Philippe Coutinho.

Salah’s re­place­ment, Adam Lal­lana, was on the pe­riph­ery of a con­test played in a good at­mos­phere un­til be­ing cen­tral to the break­through.

The only in­ci­dent of note in the open­ing 25 min­utes was a poor chal­lenge by Wayne Rooney on Joe Gomez that brought a de­served book­ing for the vet­eran. Oth­er­wise it had been a flow­ing, even but in­ci­dent-free derby un­til Emre Can played a first-time pass into Lal­lana just in­side the penalty area and the boy­hood Ever­to­nian went down un­der a touch from Ma­son Hol­gate.

The ref­eree, Robert Madley, im­me­di­ately pointed to the spot and the con­tro­versy that shaped the last derby, and earned Ever­ton a point, had resur­faced in Liver­pool’s favour. Hol­gate raised his arms fool­ishly, Lal­lana tum­bled eas­ily and an­other soft penalty was the end re­sult.

Mil­ner dinked his penalty straight down the mid­dle of Jor­dan Pick­ford’s goal and showed barely a flicker of emo­tion at open­ing the scor­ing.

Al­lardyce ar­gued long over the de­ci­sion with Jon Moss, the fourth of­fi­cial. Given their re­spec­tive takes on De­jan Lovren’s push on Calvert-Lewin last month, the Ever­ton man­ager should have agreed and Klopp dis­agreed with Madley’s judg­ment. If they were be­ing con­sis­tent, that is.

An­other flash­point in­volv­ing Hol­gate quickly fol­lowed. The young de­fender, still in­censed by the penalty award, stupidly pushed Roberto Firmino over the ad­ver­tis­ing hoard­ings in front of the Main Stand as the pair chased the ball out for a throw-in.

Firmino re­acted fu­ri­ously and made a bee­line for Hol­gate. Madley stepped into the Liver­pool for­ward’s path as the Ever­ton de­fender first eye­balled Firmino then erupted in re­sponse to some­thing the Brazil­ian had said, man-han­dling the ref­eree in the process. Re­mark­ably no cards were shown but Madley en­gaged in a long con­ver­sa­tion after­wards with Moss, who took notes. We may not have heard the last of this one.

A soft penalty was not the only sim­i­lar­ity with the clubs’ re­cent draw in the league.

Again Liver­pool should have put the con­test be­yond Ever­ton at 1-0. Joe Gomez squan­dered a gilt-edged chance early in the se­cond half when Alex Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain’s cor­ner found him un­marked at the back post.

To Klopp’s dis­gust the young de­fender steered a close-range header wide. Lal­lana also shot wide when given a run on Phil Jagielka and Van Dijk headed straight at Pick­ford from an Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain free-kick.

Ever­ton pun­ished Liver­pool for their missed op­por­tu­ni­ties. Al­lardyce in­tro­duced Ade­mola Look­man for the un­happy Rooney, with the for­mer Eng­land cap­tain sail­ing too close to a red card, and the young­ster was cen­tral to the equaliser. Col­lect­ing Bo­lasie’s clear­ance, he broke into the Liver­pool half be­fore spray­ing the ball out to Jagielka of all peo­ple sprint­ing down the right. Jagielka stum­bled over his first touch but passed in­side to Sig­urds­son and he rolled a cool fin­ish in­side Loris Kar­ius’ left-hand post.

– Guardian

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