LONDON: Liverpool have asked the Premier League to review the application of VAR in two pivotal incidents during their 2-2 Merseyside derby draw with Everton at Goodison Park.
The first occurred when Liverpool were leading 1:0 after Sadio Mane had scored the quickest goal in the Premier League history of the derby within two minutes. No action was taken by referee Michael Oliver or VAR official David Coote after a reckless challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford felled Virgil van Dijk.
Only a decision of offside against Van Dijk was signalled but the 10th-minute clash saw the Dutchman immediately sent to hospital for a scan on a right knee injury. Previously Van Dijk had not missed a minute of Premier League football since September 2018. BBC TV analyst Alan Shearer, the former England captain, said: “It was an awful challenge, a terrible mistake.”
Managers Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool and Netherlands’ Frank de Boer will fear that a possible cruciate ligament injury could end Van Dijk’s season. Klopp said: “It was a clear penalty but then we saw the [offside] flag went up. I thought they would still look at the foul but that didn’t happen. I don’t want to say Jordan Pickford wanted to do it but it is not a challenge a goalie can do in the box.”
Everton capitalised on their double escape – no red card and no penalty – by equalising nine minutes later through a Michael Keane header. Liverpool regained the lead in the 72nd minute when Mo Salah punished a poor clearance by Yerry Mina. It was Salah’s 100th Liverpool goal in his 159th match, making him the third-fastest to three figures for the club behind only Roger Hunt and Jack Parkinson.
Liverpool were pursuing a third, killing goal when Dominic Calvert-Lewin equalised with his 10th goal in seven Everton games. DCL, who scored his first England goal during the international break, became the first Toffees player since Tommy Lawton in 1938 to score in his opening five games of a league season.
More drama followed. Richarlison became the 22nd red card in 57 Premier League Merseyside derbies for a late tackle on Thiago Alcanatara before a narrow offisde denied captain Jordan Henderson a stoppage-time winner in the second VAR controversy. Mane’s arm appeared barely a centimetre offside before he crossed for Henderson to beat Pickford.
Klopp said: “It’s getting hard to take. Maybe someone can explain to me how it was offside? I just don’t understand it.”
Both sides were celebrating anniversaries on this precise day: for Liverpool it marked five years under Jurgen Klopp in the 10th anniversary week of Fenway Sports Group’s ownership. For Everton it marked an entire decade since their last derby win. Consolation for manager Carlo Ancelotti was in retaining their league leadership even though the blank derby run extended to 23 matches.
Chelsea’s summer expenditure on their attack in paying off but now manager Frank Lampard must worry about his defence. More failings at the back cost Chelsea a two-goal lead and enabled Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton to escape from Stamford Bridge with a 3-3 draw.
Kai Havertz was outstanding in support of Werner who enjoyed a central attacking role by scoring his first two Chelsea goals and making the other for his compatriot.
Werner had one early ‘goal’ disallowed for offside then struck twice for real to put Chelsea on course for a straightforward win. But Danny Ings reduced the deficit in the 43rd minute after a mistake by Havertz.
Yet another blunder from Chelsea’s error-prone goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga handed Che Adams an equaliser just before the hour. The Spaniard had been recalled after injury to Edouard Mendy. But first he missed a tackle on Adams after in contesting Kurt Zouma’s weak back pass then he comically collided with the post in the scramble which allowed the former under-20 international to score.
Havertz immediately restored Chelsea’s lead with his first Premier goal after a neat move between Christian Pulisic and Werner. However Southampton took control and deserved Jannik Vestergaard’s stoppage-time equaliser. Hasenhuttl could thus enjoy a smiling exchange of compliments with Werner after the final whistle.
Lampard said: “I’m very frustrated and so are the players. We were better in the first half and Southampton were better in the second half. It’s all about game management. You can have as many team meetings as you like but we have to put those mistakes right.”
Sergio Aguero will escape disciplinary action for placing a hand on the left shoulder of female assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis during Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat of Arsenal. The incident occurred in the 42nd minute as Aguero protested over the award of a throw-in.
Referee Chris Kavanagh took no action and PGMOL, the referees’ governing body, did not consider the gesture ‘aggressive or threatening’. Manager Pep Guardiola said: “Sergio is the nicest person I have ever met in my life. Look for problems in other situations.”
City hope Aguero will extend for at least one more year his contract which expires next summer. They won with Raheem Sterling’s 35th goal in all competitions since the start of last season.
Manchester United recovered from their 6-1 home beating by Tottenham to defeat Newcastle 4-1.
United won easily in the end despite conceding the opening goal and seeing Bruno Fernandes miss his first penalty after 10 successful kicks. United’s recovery was led by captain Harry Maguire. His goal was a change of fortune after a difficult start to the season which included a red card in England’s midweek defeat by Denmark.