Virgil van Dijk scores late Merseyside derby winner on debut
Liverpool debutant Virgil van Dijk had a night to remember as he scored the winning goal in front of the Kop End against local rivals Everton.
James Milner’s first-half penalty was cancelled out by Gylfi Sigurdsson’s strike but Van Dijk stepped up in the 85th minute to head past Jordan Pickford from a corner.
With tackles flying in from the start, Wayne Rooney found himself in the book after six minutes after a late tackle on Joe Gomez.
Liverpool had the best of the possession in the opening 20 minutes, but neither team failed to get a shot on target. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s long-range shot, blocked by Phil Jagielka, was closest to threatening the Everton goal.
James Milner did come close to opening the scoring in the 25th minute when he volleyed across goal after Gomez’s cross, but that went wide of the far post.
Yannick Bolasie was causing problems for Andrew Robertson down the right wing and earned Everton a corner when his cross was headed behind by Gomez. The corner fell to Cuco Martina but the full-back blazed the ball over into the Kop.
Milner gave Liverpool the lead from the penalty spot in the 34th minute, after Mason Holgate pulled back Adam Lallana. Pickford dived to his left and Milner placed the spot-kick down the middle.
Holgate was in the thick of it again shortly after when he pushed Roberto Firmino over the barrier into the stands. After a long consultation with fourth official Jon Moss, referee Bobby Madley decided not to show a card to the Everton full back.
The first chance of the second half fell to Gomez from a corner but he could only head wide from six yards.
Loris Karius almost gifted Everton a goal in the 56th minute when he dropped a free-kick onto the head of Ademola Lookman. Gomez was on hand, though, to clear the danger.
With Liverpool’s next attack, Robertson cut in from the left before unleashing a powerful shot at Pickford.
Everton equalised with 25 minutes remaining with a sensational counter-attack. From a Liverpool corner, the ball was cleared to Bolasie on the edge of the area. He played it to Lookman on the left wing who drove inside before finding Jagielka. A turn from Jagielka, and a pass to Gylfi Sigurdsson who was coming from deep. The Icelandic international rolled a shot from 20 yards low into the right corner.
Firmino should have regained the lead with 10 minutes remaining when a delicious free-kick was sent towards him, but Jagielka was able to head clear.
Van Dijk sent Anfield wild just five minute before the end. In front of the Kop End, Milner sent a corner into the six-yard box and Van Dijk rose above Pickford to send the ball into the net and send the Reds into the fourth round.