Jurgen Klopp was left ruing what he deemed to be a ‘legitimate’ goal as his Liverpool side were held to a 2-2 draw with Merseyside rivals Everton.
Klopp was left exasperated by the VAR decision to rule out Jordan Henderson’s 93rd-minute strike at the end of a gripping Goodison Park derby, which preserved Everton’s three-point lead over their neighbours at the Premier League summit.
Henderson thought he had scored the winner when Thiago Alcantara found Sadio Mane with a clever pass and his low cross was turned in by the England midfielder, only for VAR to find the narrowest of offsides.
Speaking to the press following the controversial end, Klopp said: “I came into the dressing room, and there were people standing there saying they’d watched the [VAR disallowed goal] situation back and they were saying they didn’t understand why they whistled offside.
“I’m really in support of VAR and especially with offside you expect that the right decision would be made. We scored a goal one time at Aston Villa and they said the armpit was offside! It sounds funny, but we got it.
“This time, the picture I saw once was that there wasn’t an armpit call, it was just offside. Since then, I’ve had about 10 interviews and everybody tells me that it was not offside and this doesn’t lift my mood, obviously.
“It’s tricky, but we’ve lost one player in a situation where VAR was not involved [Jordan Pickford on Virgil van Dijk] and maybe another one in the red card situation [Richarlison on Thiago], and we’ve scored a legitimate goal which didn’t count. It was obviously not our day but it was the performance I wanted to see.”
To add to Liverpool’s disappointment, they suffered an injury to key defender Virgil van Dijk which forced the Dutchman out of the game in the 11th minute when he went down after a reckless challenge from Everton ‘keeper Jordan Pickford.
When asked about the severity of Van Dijk’s injury, Klopp added: “I don’t know. It’s not good. Virgil played for us I don’t know how many games in a row… he plays with pain and pretty much everything but he couldn’t play on. That’s not good.”
In pictures: Virgil’s moment of Pickford pain
Everton took advantage of the Dutchman’s absence, when, from a corner, Michael Keane rose at the near post to power a header past Adrian.
Klopp said: “The set piece was unlucky when they scored because Virgil [Van Dijk] wasn’t on the pitch. It was an issue we had to solve in the game and we did. The problem was that it was the first corner after we had to make the change so there was this little moment of disorganisation and they used it.
“That’s the quality of Everton and with the second goal, we pretty much avoided all situations like this over the 90 minutes but one time we let (Lucas) Digne cross and I heard already when the ball was in the air from the Everton bench that they knew it was going in because [Dominic Calvert-Lewin] is really strong in those situations.”
After Calvert-Lewin had cancelled out Mohamed Salah’s 100th goal for the club, Thiago felt the full force of a dreadful challenge from Richarlison which rightly received a red card, and Klopp admits he will have to wait anxiously to learn the full extent of the damage caused to his playmaker.
“When I left the pitch, Thiago told me that in the red card situation with Richarlison that he thinks he got injured. We will see if it’s true or not… if the player feels like this we will need to have a look,” Klopp said.
“I’m not worried about my boys, I’m just not in a good mood as we have injured players in the dressing room. That’s not good, but we’ll see how we respond. We will show a response… and we scored today a late goal. It just didn’t count for some reason.”
Henderson: Officials bending the lines
Liverpool captain Henderson suggested VAR officials “bend the lines” to disallow goals.
“It must be offside with VAR, it’s what everyone wants,” Henderson told Sky Sports after his injury-time effort was ruled out.
“I think they bend the lines sometimes to make it offside. I’m not sure how they do it, I’ve seen it before.
“It’s disappointing we haven’t got the win. I thought the performance was very good and we deserved to win the game. I think Everton will be happier with the draw.”
Ancelotti defends Pickford following draw
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti, who saw his Premier League leaders’ 100 per cent start to the season ended as a 10-year, 23-match winless run against their neighbours was extended, was happy with the performance.
“We could win, draw or lose. I am not talking about the result, the performance was good,” he said. “We wanted to compete against Liverpool and we competed really well with good spirit.
“We never lost confidence, we were able to equalise two times, we had opportunities to go up with Richarlison hitting the post. The performance was satisfying, I am really satisfied.”
Despite another error of judgement by Pickford, Ancelotti refused to criticise his goalkeeper, who did redeem himself with three decent saves in the game.
“I think he played a good game, like the others. Good saves, he was focused in the goal, a good performance. I am not worried,” he added.