Friday night, a Merseyside derby, the FA Cup, a recipe for thrilling football. While this one will not go down as one of the great derby matches, it will undoubtedly be remembered. Liverpool knocked out Everton and advanced with a 2-1 win at Anfield.
A half season’s waiting was rewarded in sensational fashion as new signing Virgil van Dijk nods home a late winner. It was as dramatic as it was deserved. Not for the first time this season, Liverpool dominated an opponent only to let them wriggle off the hook. Instead of punishing their friendly rivals they let them back into the game.
In a funhouse mirror-like moment, Everton fell victim to a referee’s soft penalty call. Toffees’ defender Mason Holgate grabbed Adam Lallana at the top of the box, as the midfielder tried to steer a bouncing ball and the referee pointed to the spot. No matter how soft the call might have been, it was a foul and fortunately for Liverpool in the box.
Tempers began to flare after the goal and threatened to boil over but never quite did. Wayne Rooney brought some old-time snarl and eventually needed to be hooked. Meanwhile, Mason Holgate’s reckless shove of Roberto Firmino into the stands nearly provided the fuse before cooler heads prevailed.
Perhaps timing and the midway break helped more than anything. Still, Liverpool dashed any Everton hopes for a trophy and prepare for their next league clash with Manchester City.
Here are four findings from the match.