Jordan Henderson’s stoppage-time winner was ruled out by VAR for the tightest of offside calls as Everton held Liverpool to a 2-2 draw in a thrilling Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.

Liverpool started like a team possessed and got themselves in front with just two minutes and 15 seconds on the clock through Sadio Mane – the fastest Merseyside derby goal of the Premier League era – before the big first-half talking point came when Jordan Pickford got away with a reckless flying challenge on Virgil van Dijk. The offside flag stopped a penalty being awarded, but the Everton goalkeeper still somehow escaped further punishment.

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That challenge ended Van Dijk’s involvement, and shifted the momentum, as Michael Keane climbed highest to equalise in the 19th minute from a corner, before Mo Salah’s 100th goal for Liverpool out of nowhere in the 72nd minute looked like he had won it.

Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool is tackled by Jordan Pickford of Everton which led to Virgil van Dijk being substituted for an injury during the Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on October 17, 2020 in Liverpool, England.

Image credit: Getty Images

However, the drama was far from over, as that man Calvert-Lewin got Everton level, before Richarlison saw red for a dangerous tackle on Thiago, with that numerical advantage helping Liverpool create on more opening for Henderson, which the skipper converted from close range, only for VAR, and those dreaded dotted lines, to rule out the stoppage time goal for the most marginal of offsides.

With Mane back in the Liverpool side, and Thiago making his first start in midfield, Liverpool were too good for Everton early on, with a swift counter sweeping the visitors in front. Andrew Robertson was again the creator, as he squared for Mane to maintain this Premier League season's record of no goalless draws to date.

Pickford then almost effectively ended the match as a contest, but escaped a red card thanks to the linesman’s flag, and those dotted VAR lines. The VAR, David Coote, did not, however, have another look at the incident, much to Pickford's relief.

The remainder of the match became the first time Van Dijk has missed a minute of Premier League action since he was substituted in the 3-0 home win over Southampton in September 2018, and that Van Dijk-shaped hole was exploited as Keane met James Rodriguez’s corner to head home his fourth goal already this season.

Sadio Mane was the man adjudged to be offside

Image credit: Getty Images

After the break, the game became a little scrappier, but the brilliance of Salah edged Liverpool back in front as he hammered the ball home with his left foot.

Everton did not lie down, however, with Lucas Digne crossing for Calvert-Lewin to score his 10th goal of the season, becoming just the fourth player in Premier League history to score in each of the opening five matchday's of a season with nine minutes left.

Richarlison’s dreadful tackle on Thiago saw him dismissed, before the finale kept us engrossed right until the last. Liverpool’s unbeaten record against Everton stretches to 23 matches, but that setback at the death will mean it will feel like two points taken away from Liverpool.

TALKING POINT -VAR centre stage, once again

So far this season, the handball rule has been the real target of managers’ ire, with VAR, and those dotted lines down from armpits remaining, on the whole, out of the spotlight.

Not for long. Why the VAR, Mr Coote, did not have another look at the tackle, well karate kick, from Jordan Pickford, will forever remain a mystery.

Not done there, the dotted lines came crashing down on Sadio Mane, and Liverpool were denied a dramatic derby win – a sensation that cannot be bettered in football. It may have been brought in to better the game, but it ain’t half killing it.

MAN OF THE MATCH – Thiago

What a stage to make your first Premier League start, but the Spain international was anything but overawed. Nobody came close to the Thiago’s tally of passes at Goodison, but it was their incisive nature that gave Liverpool an additional edge.

PLAYER RATINGS

Everton: Pickford 7, Digne 7, Coleman 6, Keane 7, Mina 6, Allan 8, Doucoure 6, Gomes 6, Rodriguez 8, Richarlison 4, Calvert-Lewin 7...Subs: Sigurdsson 6, Iwobi 6, Godfrey 7.

Liverpool: Adrian 6, Alexander-Arnold 6, Robertson 8, Matip 6, Van Dijk 6, Fabinho 6, Thiago 8, Henderson 7, Mane 8, Salah 7, Firmino 7. Subs: Wijnaldum 6, Gomez 6, Jota 6.

KEY MOMENTS

3’ - GGGGGOOOOOAAAALLLL!!! Everton 0-1 Liverpool. Back in the LIverpool team, and back with a goal as Sadio Mane smashes the visitors into the lead. Fantastic Liverpool move. Swift counter, Andy Robertson skips into the box, pulls it back brilliantly for Mane, who hammers home his fourth Merseyside Derby goal. No goalless draws still this season!

6’ - Jordan Pickford comes flying out of his goal, smashes into Van Dijk, but the Liverpool defender is flagged offside. Much to Pickford's relief. VAR having a check. This could turn sour for Everton quickly. Dreadful challenge from Pickford. A real mess. The offside is given, just. Ah, those lovely VAR lines. Pickford gets away with it, but could it still have been a red?

19’ - GGGGGOOOOOOAAAALLLLL!!!!! Everton 1-1 Liverpool. Out of nowhere, Michael Keane heads the home side level! Great ball on from Rodriguez, right onto the head of Keane, who heads his fourth goal of the season. Would Van Dijk have made a difference there?

24’ - WHAT A SAVE! He may be lucky to still be on the pitch, but Pickford does his confidence the world of goal with a fine save from a Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick.

51’ - CHANCE! Lovely low cross Lucas Digne, into Calvert-Lewin, who looks odds on to score, but misses the ball completely, and Adrian gathers at the second attempt.

59’ - POST! Wonderful cross from James Rodriguez to the back post, Richarlison gets up, but heads into the foot on the post! Everton really turning the screw here!

73’ - GGGOOOOOAALLLLL!!!!! Everton 1-2 Liverpool. A bolt out of the blue as Salah slams Liverpool back in front. That was not coming! But that is the brilliance of this Liverpool side, and Mo Salah. 100 goals for Liverpool for the Egyptian, and few will be more important! Henderson crossed the ball in, the clearance from Yerri Mina was poor, but Salah, in the blink of an eye, smashed the ball into the bottom corner.

78’ - WHAT A SAVE! Pickford keeps Everton in it, springing to his right and clawing Matip's header out.

81’ - GGGGGGGGGGOOOOOOOAAALLLLL!! Everton 2-2 Liverpool. Of course it is that man Calvert-Lewin, who brings this game level once again! That is 10 (TEN) and five in row for the England striker. Great ball out wide by Rodriguez, Digne then floats a lovely cross into the middle, and Calvert-Lewin climbs highest to head home.

88’ - RED CARD! Awful, awful tackle from Richarlison given a straight red card!

90+2’ - GGGGOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL!!! Everton 2-3 Liverpool. A captain's goal from Henderson looks to have won it for the champions!

90+4’ NO GOAL!!!! Would you believe it. Mane is adjudged to be offside in the build up! THOSE DOTTED LINES HAVE DONE IT AGAIN! CONTROVERSY AT GOODISON.

KEY STATS

Everton haven’t led in any of their last 14 Premier League matches against Liverpool – only Crystal Palace have had a longer run against an opponent without going ahead in the competition (17 vs Man Utd between 1992-2017).

Everton vs Liverpool has seen more red cards than any other fixture in Premier League history (22), with Everton’s 15 in this fixture also a record for one side against another in the competition.

Liverpool have conceded 13 goals in their five Premier League games this season – they conceded as many after 15 games last season. Indeed, 13 goals is the most Liverpool have shipped after five league games since 1953-54 (also 13).

Dominic Calvert-Lewin is the first player to score in each of Everton’s first five league games in a season since Tommy Lawton in 1938-39.

Calvert-Lewin is just the fourth player to score in each of his side’s first five Premier League games in a season, after Arsenal’s Jose Reyes (2004-05), Man Utd’s Wayne Rooney (2011-12) and Man City’s Sergio Agüero (2019-20).

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