Liverpool 2-1 Everton: Late van Dijk debut header sends Reds through

A debut header from Virgil van Dijk sealed Liverpool's passage into the forth round of the FA Cup in a hotly contested Merseyside debut.

Liverpool 2-1 Everton: Late van Dijk debut header sends Reds through
Above: Virgil van Dijk celebrating his goal in the 2-1 win over Everton | Photo: Getty Images/Clive Brunskill
LIVERPOOL
2 1
EVERTON
LIVERPOOL: KARIUS, GOMEZ (ALEXANDER-ARNOLD, MIN. 77), MATIP, VAN DIJK, ROBERTSON, CAN, MILNER (SOLANKE, MIN. 77), OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN, LALLANA (WIJNALDUM, MIN. 70), MANE, FIRMINO
EVERTON : PICKFORD, KENNY, HOLGATE, JAGIELKA, MARTINA, MCCARTHY (DAVIES, MIN. 86), SCHNEIDERLIN, ROONEY (LOOKMAN, MIN. 52), BOLASIE, CALVERT-LEWIN (NIASSE, MIN. 82), SIGURDSSON
SCORE: 1-0, MIN. 35, MILNER (PEN) 1-1, MIN. 67, SIGURDSSON 2-1, MIN. 84, VAN DIJK
REFEREE: ROBERT MADLEY BOOKED ROONEY (MIN. 7) MCCARTHY (MIN. 60) SOLANKE (MIN. 88)

The third round of the FA Cup got off to a thrilling start at Anfield, as a late debut header from the world's most expensive defender Virigil van Djik secured a narrow 2-1 victory for Liverpool over city rivals Everton in an end-to-end Merseyside derby. 

The first half-hour of the bitter derby failed to live up to expectation of many but was kicked into life with James Milner's opener from the spot in the 35th minute, before it all boiled over towards the end as Roberto Firmino and Mason Holgate caused a heated war of words between both sets of players. 

It was Jürgen Klopp's side that were turning the screw in the early minutes of the second period with Andrew Robertson and van Dijk before Gylfi Sigurðsson pulled an equaliser from nothing, both sides went for broke as the minutes ticked down but van Dijk's header six minutes from the end secured the victory. 

 

Getting the game going from the spot

The third round of the world's oldest cup competition couldn't have asked for a better curtain raiser with a Merseyside derby, however it seemed to only deliver on paper as the opening half hour failed to muster a chance of any recognition until Liverpool were handed a great opportunity to take the lead. 

Adam Lallana was enjoying a return to the starting XI having just returned from injury and looked to flick the ball beyond Holgate as he took the ball into feet on the edge of the area, Lallana went down under the challenge of the young defender which did look soft but Robert Madley had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Milner stood over the set-piece and managed to keep a cool head to stick it down the middle despite Jordan Pickford flying off his line. 

 

Lighting the touch paper 

Considering the two clubs are only separated by a few yards of Stanley Park not much would have been needed to create a flashpoint, that arrived five minutes before the break as Holgate saw red and pushed Firmino over the advertising hoardings and into the crowd.

It seemed a serious overreaction considering there seemed to be no malice from the Brazilian to shield the ball and he certainly had a right to be angry, it spilled over between both sets of players but Holgate's actions remained unpunished despite a long talk with fourth official Jonathan Moss. 

 

Getting the engine running 

Liverpool came flying out of the traps in the second period as they looked to kill off their rivals from across the park, and had two great opportunities to double their advantage over The Toffees. 

Robertson did very well to collect the ball on the left-hand side of the area just before the hour mark, he went one better to get past Cuco Martina and set up the chance but Pickford did well to palm away the danger at his near post. 

The clash saw the introduction of a new face to the Anfield faithful as van Dijk made his debut since his £75million move from Southampton, and he almost marked perfectly as he wriggled away from his marker and got excellent contact on the ball in from the right but it was straight at Pickford. 

 

Bringing it back from nothing 

Sam Allardyce's side did well to soak up that pressure but had little to nothing to show going forward as the minutes clocked down, but from nothing they managed to pull themselves back into the tie. 

Everton broke from the Liverpool corner through the returning Yannick Bolasie who released Ademola Lookman on the left, the youngster cut inside and found the gut busting run of Phil Jagielka who did well to hold the ball before teeing it up for Sigurðsson to sweep into the bottom corner. 

 

Had to be him 

It did seem like that a replay back across Stanley Park looked the most likely option despite both sides throwing everything but the kitchen forward in the last minutes, and it paid off for The Reds and it seemed inevitable that it would be van Dijk. 

Some of Pickford's decision making could have been called into question throughout the contest and was again as he came flying out for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's corner, the Wearside keeper completely missed the target as van Dijk was allowed the free header to nod into an empty net and lift the roof off The Kop.