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How did VAR miss Van Dijk horror tackle that now puts Liverpool's title defence in peril?

Thrilling clash destroyed by horror tackle and disallowed goal

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (right) is challenged by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford

John Aldridge

A wonderdul Merseyside derby was ruined by some crazy VAR decisions at Goodison Park, with my accusing finger not pointed at referee Michael Oliver after yesterday's 2-2 draw.

If anyone can come up with a credible reason why VAR official David Coote did not let the referee know that he needed to look at Jordan Pickford's first-half challenge on Virgil van Dijk, then I'm all ears.

The wacky VAR lines that no one can work out told us Van Dijk was half a millimetre offside in the build-up, but that does not mean Pickford is allowed to clatter into the Liverpool centre-back and take him out around his knee.

Are we saying that so long as the offside flag goes up, the two teams are allowed to batter each other for five seconds and it will just be ignored?

I can't see how the VAR official, who has dozens of screens at his disposal, missed an incident that could now put Liverpool's entire Premier League title defence in peril.

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his side’s first goal

There may not have been malice in Pickford's lunge to try and stop Van Dijk as he closed in on goal, but the TV replay confirmed it was a red card all day long.

Yet instead of advising referee Oliver to go and look at his TV monitor and come to what was the only decision possible and send Pickford off, the incident was ignored by Coote and Liverpool were punished twice.

If Pickford had seen red, Liverpool would have cruised to a victory at Goodison Park as they were already 1-0 up at that stage and would have had far too much for Everton if they were playing with ten men for a majority of the game.

The second punishment could be even more devastating for Liverpool because if Van Dijk is out for an extended period, it would be a massive blow to their hopes of defending the title.


That might sound a bit of an overreaction, but Van Dijk is so important to Liverpool on so many levels and he would be impossible to replace if he is out for an extended period.

Klopp's worst nightmare over the last couple of years was an injury to Van Dijk and he left hospital on crutches last night after undergoing a scan so the signs don't look good.

As if those two decisions were not hard enough for Liverpool to take, we then had an injury-time winner from Jordan Henderson ruled out by another VAR call.

Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara in action during the match at Goodison Park

The moment I saw they were trying to find fault in the goal, I knew it would end with an offside decision, because those lines we see popping up on the screen can find a player offside by a millimetre.

Sure enough, VAR found that Sadio Mane's left testicle, or some other part of his anatomy, was considered to be offside - and the win Liverpool deserved after a fine performance was taken away from them.

You come away from a game like that feeling frustrated as all the wonderful stuff we saw in a competitive derby game counted for nothing as a guy who has never kicked a ball in his life was the key player in the drama.

While it was great to have the Premier League game after 10 days of watching dire inter national football, the wonderful action we saw on the field was marred by a fella watching TV screens in London.

The VAR official made the key decisions that decided the game and in my opinion, he had a horrible day at the office.

Liverpool have contacted the Premier League and asked for clarification on yesterday's events and they have every right to do so as those decisions cost them a win in what could be a defining match of their season.

The silver lining for Klopp and his players has to be a performance that was the perfect response to their 7-2 defeat against Aston Villa in their last match.

Liverpool were outstanding yesterday and that is as well as they have played at Goodison Park in a long time, even though they didn't get the win they should have got.

Mane and Mohamed Salah were fantastic in the attacking third and I thought the midfield trio of Thiago, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho were superb.

What a player Thiago is. He is a maestro conducting the band with his passing and everything he does oozes class.

Captain Henderson was majestic alongside him and would have fully deserved to score the winning goal, with the two dropped points hard to take after a performance like that.

There were some concerns defensively again and conceding two more goals was disappointing, yet the early exit of Van Dijk would have affected them.

Now Klopp will sit back and wait for news on Van Dijk, as that will be the big concern for Liverpool as they prepare to start their Champions League campaign against Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday night.

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