Virgil van Dijk scores on debut to settle ill-tempered derby

Rachel Hardy
January 9, 2018

Even in the white heat of a Merseyside derby - and a knockout, winner-takes-all one, at that - the world's most expensive defender managed to attract attention.

Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho was again ruled out with a thigh injury as speculation continues to mount over his future amid interest from Barcelona, while top-scorer Mohamed Salah was missing with a groin problem.

The atmosphere in the stands crackled and on the pitch it was equally feisty.

The defensive stability he provided, especially in his first match in Liverpool's starting eleven, was quite an encouraging look into what the future holds for the Reds.

James Milner put Liverpool ahead in the 35th minute by converting a contentiously awarded penalty.

The German manager said he did not feel his side deserved a penalty for Mason Holgate's challenge on Adam Lallana in the first half.

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Milner made no mistake with the spot-kick as he dispatched the ball past Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford with confidence.

Van Dijk was constantly being harassed by the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Wayne Rooney, Yannick Bolasie, and/or Gylfi Sigurdsson when he would go up to win headers in Liverpool's defensive third, but used his strength and clever body positioning to his advantage, sticking to his task well. "The first one was no penalty in my opinion and this one wasn't also", Klopp said. "He arguably could've been given a handful of calls with the way Everton's attacking players were trying to rattle him, but the referee was hesitant to whistle anything in favor of the 6′ 4" center back. "It is exactly the same situation".

Liverpool hasn't lost to Everton in 16 matches - a club record - and Everton's winless run at the home of its great rival extended to 21 games, dating back to 1999.

Rather than shoot himself the defender laid the ball off for Sigurdsson, who calmly stroked the ball into the bottom corner of the net past the flat-footed Loris Karius.

Manchester United also left it late to qualify for the fourth round, with in-form midfielder Jesse Lingard and striker Romelu Lukaku scoring in the final six minutes of regulation time in a 2-0 victory over second-tier Derby County at Old Trafford.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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