VAR controversy abounded as Liverpool were robbed of a late 3-2 victory over Everton at Goodison Park.
With the game squared at 2-2 going into injury time, a perfectly good Jordan Henderson goal — supposedly because Sadio Mané was offside, an assertion that had no evidence in tv pictures — was disallowed and Everton hung on for a scantly deserved point.
The Reds, whose performance was — in the large part — was excellent recovered well from their debacle at Villa Park and lead 2-1 — thanks to goals from Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah — with ten minutes to go.
However, scoring their second goal from a header — the first came from Michael Keane from a set-piece — via Dominic Calvert Lewin the Blues equalized. The goal will surely stick in the craw of the Reds because it came through a header and Virgil van Dijk — who was injured by a disgusting Jordan Pickford challenge that ought to have merited a red card — is world-class in defending these scenarios.
Liverpool, who would have been keen to make amends after their record defeat to Aston Villa, started the game in superb shape and they made their only dominance count after only three minutes.
A superb pass from Salah found its way to Andrew Robertson on the left-flank and the Scotland captains pinpoint cross was hammered into the top corner by Mané.
The Reds — whose midfield trio of Thiago, Fabinho, and Henderson were well in the ascendancy and continued to push forward and only bad finishing, Mané screwing another Robertson cross wide, and horrendous officiating kept Everton to a one-goal deficit.
From a second phase set-piece, van Dijk looked to meet a Trent Alexander Arnold set-piece but was felled by Pickford in the box. The English keeper recklessly flew in and went through the Dutchman in a challenge that was every inch a red card. Inexplicably, Pickford escaped punishment but Liverpool weren’t so lucky and their talismanic centre half went off injured.
It was a cruel twist of faith, then, that the hosts equalised from a set-piece — Keane nodding in James’ corner — that van Dijk — given how imperious he is in the air — likely would have dealt with with the minimum of fuss.
The Reds took a while to recover from the concession of their goal, but rarely looked threatened with Everton confined to hitting speculative punts to Calvert Lewin which Joel Matip and Joe Gomez — van Dijk’s replacement — easily dealt with.
The half time whistle sounded with Everton the happier side to have a break in play.
The hosts did start the second period better, with Richarlison hitting the outside of the post with a header and Calvert Lewin — a mere spectator for most of the game — failing to make contact from an inviting Lucas Digne cross.
The Reds, though, soon settled into their stride with Thiago running the show from the centre of the park.
Salah and Fabinho both went close with shots from distance and Matip was denied by a brilliant Pickford save, which — given he should have been sent off — was a sickening moment for the Reds.
The pressure did tell in the 72nd minute when Salah rifled a brilliantly hit volley past Pickford and into the bottom corner to give the visitors a richly deserved lead.
Everton, though, levelled once again when Calvert Lewin — again in the left channel where van Dijk would have been — rose above Robertson to nod Digne’s cross into the bottom corner and away from the despairing Adrian.
The game was becoming feisty and there was some nasty tackles, not least from Richarlison — who was correctly sent off after lunging at Thiago off the ball — after an idiotic rush of the blood to the head. Had there been justice, it would have been Everton’s second red.
There was a sense of injustice to the draw and Liverpool poured forward in search of a winner and they thought they had it when Thiago’s superb ball found Mané and the Senegalese squared a ball with his left foot than Henderson swept past Pickford.
Inexplicably, for the second time, Everton got the VAR call and Liverpool were deemed offside and the Blues held on for a draw.
It was a massive miscarriage of justice, but the Reds can be happy with a mostly excellent performance.
Liverpool team: Adrian; Alexander Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mané.
Replacements: Jota for Firmino, Gomez for van Dijk, Wijnaldum for Fabinho.
Referee: Michael Oliver.