its a VAR-CE | 

'Klopp's body language was that of a somebody who had watched his team suffer death by a thousand cuts'

Champions suffer due to latest farce surrounding the use of VAR technology

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp speaks to Virgil van Dijk as he goes off injured during the game at Goodison Park

Roy Curtis

Had this mind-bending verdict been delivered by a judge and jury, Jurgen Klopp would have immediately instructed his legal team to lodge an appeal to the Supreme Court.

A review of the evidence begins with Jordan Pickford's reckless, violent but bizarrely unpunished fifth-minute lunge at Liverpool's master of the universe, Virgil van Dijk.

It concludes with the latest bewildering VAR freezeframe, the one that deems Sadio Mane offside by an invisible-to-the-eye pixel, denying Jordan Henderson what had appeared a decisive injury-time dagger thrust into Everton's ribcage.

Liverpool's outrage, the visceral depiction of Goodison Park as a tribunal issuing a grotesque miscarriage of justice, deflected from another stirring step forward from an Everton side pursuing the best of their old glory.

Dominic Calvert Lewin trampolined towards the heavens to head his tenth club goal of the season, an equaliser that confirmed there is authentic substance to Carlo Ancelotti's miracle of restoration.

Pickford lunges into Van Dijk

The fact that Calvert-Lewin was soaring unhindered - as Michael Keane had for Everton's opener - into air space that would normally have been occupied by Van Dijk only added to Klopp's unshakable sense his team had been wronged.

The Liverpool manager struggled to restrain himself in a post-match, pitch-side TV interview, but, if he held back, his tormented features, his sighing, his evident anger, spoke eloquently of his bewilderment.

His body language was that of a somebody who had watched his team suffer death by a thousand cuts.

A mere five minutes had passed when Pickford cut Van Dijk down, his leading foot slashing across the Dutchman's right leg, a scythe slicing through a field of corn.

It was dangerous, flagrant, potentially season ending. That Liverpool's totem was offside didn't matter. A red card seemed as inevitable as night following day.

Somehow, in an act of officiating illiteracy, both Michael Oliver and the VAR review thought otherwise.

Pickford, having earned an undeserved reprieve from football's Death Row, would confound the champions with a sequence of outstanding saves.

Van Dijk, the only Liverpool man to play every minute of the 2019-20 Premier League season, his team's vaccine against stress and trauma, limped off.

Seamus Coleman is injured again

He joins the equally influential Alisson in the Anfield convalescent ward: The panic that spread through the back four in his absence suggests their title defence could be determined by the central defender's recovery timeline.

And, still, after an engrossing, chaotic affair, Liverpool might have seized the day.

Instead, the editors will hold the back page for the latest contest-defining VAR controversy.

The technological innovation has transformed football from a game of inches to one of microscopic margins.

Mane had assisted Henderson's goal, but in receiving the ball from Thiago - the playmaker who made the afternoon glow most fiercely - he was deemed offside.

The virus that causes Covid, from which both Thiago and Mane have just recovered, is so small that 500 million of them would fit on the full stop at the end of this sentence.

Mane can only have been offside by one or two of those miniscule particles.

Klopp was a portrait of bewilderment: "Maybe somebody can explain it to me, but the picture I saw was not offside. But it was offside because somebody decided it."

Had he been strapped to a blood pressure monitor, the machine would have exploded at that precise moment.

This was another epic fixture in the madcap start to this season like no other.

Everton's shunting from the sunlight in which they resided across the 1980s peak of Merseyside football power has diminished recent derbies.

One writer recently went so far as to liken the collision of the old docker town's Blue and Red galleons to a rusting hulk limping forlornly across the high seas, lamenting the fixture as the Premier League's "bedraggled flagship."

But the eye-catching early-season Everton renaissance - seven straight wins in all competitions - restored a little of the ancient grandeur to the build-up.

Everton's Michael Keane scores his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at Goodison Park

But they were behind within 135 seconds on the 10th anniversary to the day of their last derby victory. Andy Robertson easily ghosted by Seamus Coleman to tee up Mane for a typically emphatic finish.

Everton, though, reached down to locate the character which had seen them recover from early concessions in their previous four games.

Ancelotti's wise counsel, a solid axis of worker ants who seem to define professional commitment, Calvert Lewin's prolific offensive detonation and the skill and charisma of James Rodriguez have freshly upholstered Goodison Park with belief.

James, the 23-year-old who lit up the 2014 World Cup as surely as if he was dressed in a matador's suit of lights, has rediscovered the fearless swagger that was lost in Madrid.

Here, he and Liverpool's Thiago elevated the contest with their ability to snake-charm the ball to do their bidding.

When Keane finished a corner the Colombian fizzed menacingly into Liverpool's box, anticipation had replaced apprehension.

Not even Coleman departing with a recurrence of the hamstring injury that kept him out of Ireland's October trilogy, disrupted Everton.

Then the gunslingers stepped into the arena: Mo Salah's 100th Liverpool goal restored the advantage, Calvert Lewin's season of abundance squared it up.

All that was left was for VAR to dance into the limelight.

And for Klopp to be left cursing the absence of an appeal court that might have restored sanity to a thrilling, anarchic afternoon.

Mane can only have been offside by one or two of those miniscule particles.

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