The Merseyside Derbies are one of the much-awaited derbies in world football. 10 years ago, on October 17, Everton beat Liverpool and that was it – the Premier League witnessed the rise and rise of the Reds whereas, Everton never really have been able to live up to the expectations. But in the season 2020-21, the Toffees are a different kettle of fish – a team marshaled by Carlo Ancelotti, Everton is giving the impression that they would be a tough contender for the big fishes of Premier League.

The defeat against Aston Villa still hurts, but, over the years, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have shown that they are capable of bouncing back and regain the momentum. Keeping in mind the outcomes of the previous Derbies in Goodison Park, the Reds thought of burying the ghost at Villa Park quickly.

Sadly, ultimately, VAR killed buried the dreams of Liverpool.

Goodison Park experienced a fresh lockdown due to the second wave of COVID-19. But football was there to break the monotony and fear of the COVID-19 pandemic with its twist and turn and drama in each minute.  Everton and Liverpool scripted a contest like the 80s, where both teams did not bog down easily and a silent Goodison Park seemed to have come alive.

Liverpool put their foot on the paddle within just 2 and a half minutes as the Everton midfield pressed too high leaving acres of spaces on the flank – the ball moved the right flank to the left, where Andy Robertson defied the half-backed press and lopsided defending of the Toffees to push the ball in the center, where Sadio Mane netted the opener.

Defender Seamus Coleman was well beaten and beat the ground with his fist, realizing, it was a mistake that led to Liverpool to blaze. Liverpool grew and Everton discovered themselves on the backfoot. A corner within 5 minutes was cleared, but Fabinho chipped the ball smartly over the Everton back four.

Pickford was fully exposed – Virgil van Dijk, up for the corner, was inside the penalty arena and on goal. Pickford rushed out and clattered to van Dijk who nudged the ball past him.  It was a reckless challenge by Pickford and would have been a penalty had VAR not interfered and discovering van Dijk as offside, but astonishingly missed the reckless challenge by Pickford.

Pickford deserved a red card and the decision was a straight-cut one, but it cost the Reds van Dijk would not feature in the rest of the match due to injury.

In the aerial battles, Liverpool became weak and the Toffees exploited that fully.

Everton relied more on the long balls and targeted the hit-man Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

The Liverpool backline started to look shaky and a foray led to a corner.

James Rodriguez lifted directly on the head of Michael Keane. It was a thunderous header and too much for an average goalkeeper like Adrian and there was no van Dijk to nail the Keane-jump with his height and intensity.

A Trent-Alexander Arnold was well-saved by Pickford in the 24th-minute and eleven minutes later, a Robertson-Mane combination lacked the force to beat Pickford.

In the second half, Everton fed the shakiness of Liverpool backline – A Richarlison diving header from a James cross came off the post and a few minutes later James went all the way to see his shot parried away by Pickford.

In the 73rd-minute, Jordan Henderson sent a beautiful cross that Yerry Mina failed to deal well and kicked softly in front of a preying Mohamed Salah, who volleyed the ball home. But the Toffees bounced back again – yet again winning the aerial battle in the absence of van Dijk.

A Lucas Digne cross was well put behind Adrian by Calvert-Lewin, whose jump in the air could not be stopped by Robertson.

The Toffees were down to 10-men when Richarlison was sent-off for a studs-up challenge on Fabinho in the 90th-minute.

In the stoppage time, Thiago produced a gem of a pass to Mane who crossed the ball in the center where Henderson beat Pickford to take the lead. Klopp was delirious; the Reds were celebrating until VAR came to rescue the Toffees again!

The elbow of Mane strayed offside and the goal was turned down, which was quite hard to digest. It seemed that the Reds were robbed of a fighting victory. Each and everyone would vote for the technology to run the game fairly enough, but if the people who run the technology remain confused or miss the details, then the game as a whole suffers badly.

VAR killed the charm of Merseyside Derby.

At first, by allowing Pickford to stay on the pitch and then, disallowing the goal by Henderson!