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Liverpool 2-1 Everton: Virgil van Dijk scores FA Cup winner on debut

Virgil van Dijk scored a dramatic late winner on his Liverpool debut to secure a 2-1 win over Merseyside rivals Everton in the third round of the FA Cup.

 

The £75m defender headed home in the 85th minute to a thunderous ovation around Anfield as Liverpool extended their unbeaten derby run to 16 matches.

 

James Milner had given Liverpool the lead in the 35th minute when he converted from the penalty spot after Mason Holgate fouled Adam Lallana.

 

Player ratings

Liverpool: Karius (6), Gomez (7), Van Dijk (8), Matip (6), Robertson (7), Milner (7), Can (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain (6), Lallana (5), Mane (6), Firmino (6)

Subs: Alexander-Arnold (5), Wijnaldum (5), Solanke (5)

Everton: Pickford (5), Kenny (6), Holgate (5), Jagielka (7), Martina (6), McCarthy (5), Schneiderlin (6), Sigurdsson (7), Bolasie (7), Rooney (4), Calvert-Lewin (5)

Subs: Lookman (6), Davies (5), Niasse (5)

Man of the match: Virgil van Dijk

Everton, who announced the signing of Cenk Tosun at half-time, levelled after a brilliant counter-attack was finished by Gylfi Sigurdsson in the 67th minute, but Van Dijk stole the show with his late winner.

The goal was Van Dijk’s first in any competition since scoring in last season’s FA Cup third round for Southampton, and starts to repay the huge transfer fee that Liverpool paid for the defender this month.

While the Reds dominated the Premier League meeting between these sides a month ago, on this occasion Everton showed more ambition and matched their hosts in an even first half.

Still, there was little goalmouth action at either end, with Milner going closest when he volleyed wide in the 26th minute from Joe Gomez’s crossfield pass.

Roberto Firmino (R) and Mason Holgate clashed
Roberto Firmino (R) and Mason Holgate clashed

It was Milner who broke the deadlock from the penalty spot after Holgate was penalised for grabbing Lallana.

Holgate was involved in another flashpoint towards the end of the first half when he shoved Roberto Firmino into the stands and the pair both reacted angrily.

Team news

Van Dijk made his Liverpool debut while Mane started despite being in Ghana yesterday for the African Player of the Year awards. Salah and Coutinho were not in the squad. Sigurdsson, Jagielka, Kenny, Calvert-Lewin and McCarthy came into the Everton XI after their defeat to Manchester United.

Liverpool took more control of the game after half-time but Joe Gomez and Van Dijk both missed good headed chances.

And, just as they were a month ago, it looked like the Reds might rue their missed chances as Sigurdsson finished off a swift counter from a corner with a composed finish from the edge of the box.

 

The managers

Jurgen Klopp on Virgil van Dijk: “A fairy tale in a world with not a lot of fairy tales anymore, so I think something like that is quite special. It was a difficult decision to make to be honest because, to be 100 per cent honest, the first plan was not to start him tonight but then Dejan [Lovren] and Raggy [Ragnar Klavan] played a lot of games in the last few weeks, so I changed my mind this morning. And it helped!”

Sam Allardyce: “I think the referee made a mistake for their first goal and we made a mistake for their winner. The rest of it, we’ve done brilliantly, so I can’t ask for any more from the players on their performance tonight and their desire to try to win the tie or at least take Liverpool back to Goodison.”

Man of the match – Virgil van Dijk

Who else? Should have scored before he did when he headed at Jordan Pickford from close range, but made no mistake second time around as he nodded the winner down the middle of the goal.

He also looked composed and comfortable in possession and largely kept Dominic Calvert-Lewin quiet. An impressive debut all round.

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