LIVERPOOL (Agencies): Everton came from behind twice to maintain their unbeaten start to the Premier League in a Merseyside derby thriller as Liverpool were denied a stoppage-time winner by the video assistant referee.
Sadio Mane put the visitors ahead in the third minute but they were furious soon afterwards when a wild challenge by Everton keeper Jordan Pickford on Virgil van Dijk, committed after an offside decision, saw the defender having to go off injured with VAR failing to review the tackle.
Everton, who had won their previous seven games in all competitions, equalised swiftly at Goodison Park when Michael Keane headed in a corner from the outstanding James Rodriguez.
Liverpool, with Thiago Alcantara at the heart of everything, were back in front with 18 minutes left when Mohamed Salah volleyed in Yerry Mina’s poor clearance to set up a frantic finale, with only Pickford’s magnificent save from Joel Matip’s header keeping Everton in the hunt.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s towering header restored parity with nine minutes left but Everton were then reduced to 10 men when Richarlison was sent off for a wild challenge on Thiago.
Liverpool thought they had won it in stoppage time when Pickford could not keep out Jordan Henderson’s shot – but in a finish to match the chaotic nature of the game, Mane was adjudged to be offside after a lengthy wait for the VAR decision.
Pickford the central figure again
Everton and England keeper Pickford has been unable to stay out of the headlines this season as the spotlight has fallen on his faltering form – and he was the central figure in this eventful Merseyside derby.
When Everton were 1-0 down, hesomehow escaped a red card for a challenge on Van Dijk that was dangerous enough to force Liverpool’s defender off, with the Dutchman looking in much discomfort as he made his way around the pitch.
He was then in more traditional action as he made a fine save from Trent-Alexander Arnold’s free-kick and then – with Liverpool no doubt feeling he should not even be on the pitch – he made a world-class save diving away to his right to keep out Matip’s header when it looked a certain goal with the score 2-1 in favour of Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Even then his afternoon was not over as he scrambled back in vain after failing to hold Henderson’s shot – the relief clear when VAR ruled out the goal.
Everton may still not have beaten their great rivals in a decade but Carlo Ancelotti’s side will take great comfort from the manner in which they fought back twice and while Liverpool were the more consistent threat, there is a serious menace about this team that was not present last season.