Tuesday 17 July, 2018

FA Cup: Van Dijk grabs derby winner in dream Liverpool debut

Manchester United's Juan Mata, centre, has a shot at goal during the FA Cup, third round match against Derby County at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Friday Jan. 5, 2018.

Manchester United's Juan Mata, centre, has a shot at goal during the FA Cup, third round match against Derby County at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Friday Jan. 5, 2018.

Virgil van Dijk became an instant favorite at Liverpool by marking his debut with a late goal to clinch a 2-1 win over local rival Everton in the third round of the FA Cup on Friday.

Manchester United also left it late to qualify for the fourth round, with in-form midfielder Jesse Lingard and striker Romelu Lukaku scoring in the final six minutes of regulation time in a 2-0 victory over second-tier Derby County at Old Trafford.

Signed last week for $100 million as the world's most expensive defender, Van Dijk probably couldn't have dreamed of a better debut, with his goal coming in front of the storied Kop stand at Anfield in the 84th minute.

The Netherlands center back leapt highest to meet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's corner ahead of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and nod the ball into an empty net from six meters out.

James Milner put Liverpool ahead in the 35th minute by converting a contentiously awarded penalty. Gylfi Sigurdsson equalized in the 67th but Everton's winless run at the home of its great rival extended to 21 games, dating back to 1999.

Liverpool hasn't lost to Everton in 16 matches, a club record.

In a typically high-octane derby, Wayne Rooney picked up an early booking for a crude tackle on Joe Gomez and was substituted in the 52nd for his own good, moments after escaping a second yellow card for shoving Emre Can.

The most explosive incident, which could yet have repercussions, happened in the final stages of the first half after Mason Holgate shoved Roberto Firmino into — and over — the advertising boards. A clearly unhappy Firmino vaulted back onto the field and sprinted toward Holgate, swearing in Portuguese, and was lucky that referee Bobby Madley stepped in between them to intervene.

Holgate then became aggrieved, and appeared to ask Madley if he had been verbally abused by Firmino. Madley spoke to his the fourth official, before play continued.

A few minutes earlier, Liverpool had taken the lead in contentious fashion. Holgate had his hand on Adam Lallana's shirt as the Liverpool midfielder turned at the edge of the box, but it didn't look enough to send Lallana to the ground. Still, a penalty was awarded and Milner deftly clipped the ball down the middle.

Evertron barely threatened in the first half but was much more dangerous after the break, equalizing after a counterattack following a Liverpool corner. Ademola Lookman, Rooney's replacement, fed Phil Jagielka and the center back showed composure to lay the ball back for Sigurdsson to stroke home a finish from the edge of the area.

Van Dijk had the final say, though.