Last evening’s game made me realize one thing for certain, VAR should change from Video Assistant Referee to Very Absurd Ruling. Well, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and millions of Kopites around the world would surely second my sentiment!
The game was all but won by Liverpool in injury-time, with Henderson netting the Reds’ third before VAR disallowed the goal as Sadio Mane, who fed the ball to Henderson, was adjudged offside.
Replays clearly showed, at least to me, it wasn’t offside, albeit the experts operating VAR thought otherwise.
Despite this debacle, if I were to take a positive from this game as a Reds fan, the champions still maintained their unbeaten record in the Merseyside derby for over 10 years.
So, lets dig into three things we learnt from the engaging Premier League fixture!
#3 Everton’s work-rate seemed lethargic in the first half
Despite losing 7-2 against Aston Villa before the international break, Liverpool started the game as the champions they are, when Sadio Mane broke the deadlock in the third minute after converting a rampaging cross from left-back Andrew Robertson.
Soon after, Virgil van Dijk, despite being declared offside by the slightest of margins through VAR, was fouled by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who could have been easily sent off. Unfortunately, the episode resulted in the Dutchman limping off and Joe Gomez replacing him at the heart of Liverpool’s defence.
The Toffees equalised in the 19th minute when defender Michael Keane headed the ball past Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian, who should have done better, following a mouth-watering corner from new signing James Rodrigues.
What’s more, it was Everton’s first derby goal at Goodison Park in five seasons.
Despite the equaliser, Liverpool continued their domination and in the 25th minute, Pickford made a terrific save to deny Tent Alexander-Arnold.
Mane and Thiago also created chances, with Liverpool certainly bossing the bout as Everton looked lethargic in midfield and defence.
#2 Mohamed Salah and Dominic Calvert-Lewin score again!
The Toffees started the second half in a more upbeat manner and almost scored through Richarlison, who headed the ball to the post.
However, Liverpool took the lead in the 72nd minute through Mohamed Salah, who got the ball from a deflection by Everton defender Yerry Mina and whizzed the ball past Pickford, to score his 100th goal for the Reds on derby day.
With nine minutes remaining, Liverpool seemed to be heading towards the finish line with a win before young Englishman Dominic Calvert-Lewin decided to change the script when he headed the ball past Adrian from a Lucas Digne cross. Everton equalised for the second time!
If one thought this was it, there was still more drama to come when Richarlison stormed his leg into Reds midfielder Thiago and was showed the red.
Everton were down to 10 men. The climax was yet to come!
#1 VAR definitely needs to be relooked
As I mentioned earlier, Liverpool did have the game won in the injury-time when Jordan Henderson scored, only to be denied by an absurd VAR offside ruling on Sadio Mane.
Climax became anti-climax and the match with so many twists and turns finally ended in a 2-2 draw.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was more than baffled by the VAR ruling and in the post-match interview said:
“I am a real supporter of VAR. [Last season] the armpit was offside,Now, there is no armpit offside, everyone tells me it was not offside but it does not lift my mood. We lost one player with Virgil and maybe another with the red card. [It was] not our day.“
Injuries to Virgil Van Dijk and Thiago also didn’t help the cause, with the German tactician expressing his disappointment.
Truth be told, with yesterday’s ruling, the experts definitely need to relook at VAR; and who knows if this decision might come to haunt the Reds, as this result could play a role in deciding the fate of the champions regaining their throne at the end of this season.
As a loyal Liverpool supporter, I would surely hope not!