The Warm Down: Derby day drama as VAR steals headlines again 
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: The decision to rule out a goal for offside following a VAR review is displayed on a screen inside the stadium during the Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on October 17, 2020 in Liverpool, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Honours were even at the final whistle as Liverpool acquiesced to a 2-2 draw against Carlo Ancelotti's Everton.

The ever-reliable Sadio Mane rounded off a fantastic team move to open up the scoring from close range in the first three minutes.

The first of many controversies arrived soon after in the form of a Jordan Pickford challenge on Virgil van Dijk, where the England international arguably should have seen red.

Van Dijk's inability to continue was only exasperated when Michael Keane nodded in the Toffees' equaliser.

Excellent finishes from either of the Merseyside outfit's forwards in Mohammed Salah and Dominic Calvert-Lewin awoke an otherwise lacklustre second half late on.

VAR, or more specifically Sadio Mane's offside shoulder, saved Pickford's blushes as the 'keeper was unable to control Jordan Henderson's effort into stoppage time and in turn, salvage a point.

This is the warm down of a momentous 237th Merseyside derby meeting.

  • VAR at the centre of controversy

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With so much to unpack, it is unfortunate that in an entertaining derby match-up it is VAR that is the principle talking point.

Pickford's callous lunge on van Dijk, which occurred after an offside call on the latter, resulted in a horrific knee injury and meant the Dutchman only played 11 minutes at Goodison.

Everton's shot-stopper stayed on the field despite protests and VAR rules stating decisions should be reversed based on there being a 'serious missed incident' and 'clear and obvious error'.

Assistance wasn't required for Michael Oliver when dismissing Richarlison late on for a tackle with a raised boot on Thiago Alcantara, with the Brazilian's red continuing the fixture's league-high record of currently 22 red cards.

VAR's final intervention spelled heartbreak for Kopites at the death, a very dubious call on Mane's supposedly wandering position in the buildup to Henderson's effort that even in hindsight still proves inconclusive.

  • Pickford still proves vital

The Number One is seldom away from the spotlight at Everton, often prone to a mistake and even having his position questioned upon the arrival of Robin Olsen from Roma on a season-long loan this summer.

Today the 26-year-old proved his value and staked his claim in the plans of Carlo Ancelotti, who said Pickford had 'a good game, made good saves, was focused.'

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While not without error, most notably aided by VAR in both halves in the aforementioned situations, Pickford's contribution was notable and kept his side in it with big stops at different stages of the game.

The looming sense of inevitability over Trent Alexander-Arnold's first-half free-kick was quashed by a brilliant reaction save given Pickford's vision, followed by a one-handed leap to prevent Joel Matip extending the lead to 3-1 in the second period. 

Pickford also got in the way of a looping Salah shot to add to what was a characteristically mixed bag of a performance from the Englishman.

  • Marked improvement from the Reds

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Not many football fans could fathom the occurrences at Villa Park on October 4th, never mind Liverpool fans. 

Going forward the Reds will sweat on the fitness of van Dijk and Thiago, who were victims of some derby day maliciousness, but Klopp and the backroom staff will take encouragement in a heavily contrasting performance than that of the Villa Park massacre before the international break. 

The eye-catching football played when building out from the back and on the counter-attacks was often facilitated by the space afforded between the lines, most notably in the first 45 minutes. 

Even when Everton went out to meet their opponents, their Stanley Park rivals were evidently one step ahead and found joy most often through Andy Robertson and Mane on the left flank, eventually leading to the side's first goal.

Thiago typically played an instrumental role; in the game's duller moments the new signing could pull the rabbit out of the hat with defence-penetrating balls, even injecting some Latin flair with a no-look ball to Mane in the disallowed goal. 

The Spaniard created two key chances, completed all of his four dribbles and posted a 92% pass accuracy; his confidence on the pitch will be sorely missed and hopefully he can return from his knee injury sooner rather than later.

  • Salah joins the 100 club

Mohammed Salah had a relatively quiet afternoon, well, right up until the 72nd minute.

The Egyptian broke the deadlock with an emphatic effort in what was becoming a dormant half in comparison to the first.

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Salah dropped off his attacking line and pounced on a poor Yerry Mina clearance and struck home with a first-time hit on his favoured left foot.

The right-winger bagged his 100th Liverpool goal and is the third fastest to do so in club history, only behind Jack Parkinson and Roger Hunt. 

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