Liverpool came through unscathed in the Merseyside derby as they narrowly beat Everton 2-1 to advance to the 4th round of the FA Cup on Friday.
The first half saw Everton match the Reds blow for blow, with both sides coming close to breaking the deadlock. But, it was Liverpool who grabbed the lead with ten minutes to go in the first half, after Mason Holgate fouled Adam Lallana in the Everton box.
James Milner made no mistake in converting from the spot as the hosts went into half-time with a slender advantage. Liverpool then saw Joe Gomez and debutant Virgil van Dijk come close in the early stages of the second half, but the Reds would be made to pay as the Toffees went on to grab the equaliser.
Gylfi Sigurdsson gave the visitors some hope of a first Merseyside derby victory in 16 games as he finished off a fine counter attacking move. But, Liverpool had the final say in the match as van Dijk headed in from a corner, with just six minutes left in regulation time.
Round Four awaits. 👍 pic.twitter.com/7MFzaCZzM1
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 5, 2018
The goal would eventually be the winner as the Reds advanced to the fourth round of the premier cup competition in England. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men after a hard-fought win on Friday.
Loris Karius: 6/10
The German cut a confident figure between the sticks for the hosts, but he had one or two nervy moments while collecting the ball. Karius was otherwise quite decent, and equal to most of what came up against him. He did concede a goal, but there was very little he could have done to stop the well placed shot.
Joe Gomez: 7/10
Somewhat of a game of two halves for Gomez, who was absolutely fantastic in the first half, but had moments to forget in the second. The youngster was calm and composed in the first 45 minutes, while posing a major threat in the final third.
In the second half, he was guilty of spurning a glorious chance, and Ademola Lookman gave him a few nervy moments at the back. The poor defensive moments could be chalked down to fatigue though, as the work load of the festive period seemed to have taken a toll.
Joel Matip: 7/10
Back into the side after being rested against Burnley, Matip seemed to have struck a fine partnership with new boy Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the Liverpool defence. Largely faultless, Matip was error-prone in aerial situations that slightly dampened an otherwise solid outing.
Virgil van Dijk: 8/10
Virgil Van Dijk is in some pretty elite Liverpool company here 🔴 pic.twitter.com/L56flO2E7g
— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 6, 2018
What a way to begin the newest phase of his career. Thrown into the deep end by Jurgen Klopp, van Dijk marked his Liverpool bow and maiden Merseyside derby with a performance that showed why the Reds have paid the big bucks for him.
There were only one or two moments when he looked out of pace, but he was largely solid and dominant in the air. A superb performance was capped off brilliantly when he scored the winner to make it a dream debut.
Andrew Robertson: 8/10
Van Dijk may have hogged all the limelight on Friday, but it was Andrew Robertson who was the man of the match. The young Scotsman perhaps had the most difficult task of the night – dealing with Yannick Bolasie. And Robertson did that with elan, keeping the tricky Congolese winger quiet all night.
Easily the best defender on the pitch on the night, and yet, his outing was not just about his performance at the back. Robertson also offered a handy outlet in the final third, linking up well with Sadio Mane on the left flank. Alberto Moreno is going to have a tough time winning the place back when he’s fit.
🔴 Andy Robertson (23) vs Everton:
3/4 long balls
2/2 aerial duels
1/1 shots on target
1 key pass
Really good tonight. Should be appreciated a little more. pic.twitter.com/Bw2OsWMwYm
— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) January 5, 2018
Emre Can: 6/10
The German was again a strong anchor man in front of the back-line, keeping Wayne Rooney quiet to such an extent that the frustrated veteran had to be taken off early into the second half. As the minutes started piling on though, he looked jaded as a fifth successive game seemed to be having its effects. One thing he needs to address is the tempo he generates, which is often slow.
James Milner: 7/10
The man to break the deadlock on Friday, Milner had a decent enough game as he led Liverpool to an important cup win. His energy and work-rate made the veteran Englishman such an asset on the field, although he wasn’t creative enough to force the issue when the hosts were in search of a winner.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6/10
A below par outing for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was far from his best on the night. The England international showed a lot of energy and enterprise, but without much quality. His wastefulness tended to be annoying as well, although his set-piece delivery is something that makes him a factor in every game, as it did on Friday.
Adam Lallana: 6/10
Making his second successive start, Lallana looked jaded and understandably so. He still lacks some match sharpness and fitness, which will only improve with each passing game. But, the Englishman did win the penalty that set things in motion, and he should be someone to look out for in the coming months.
Sadio Mane: 6/10
After a positive performance on New Year’s Day, Mane was underwhelming once again as his inconsistent ways continued on Friday. But, the moments of brilliance only came in flashes as he could only grab one or two half chances. Something of a concern for Klopp, his blow hot blow cold form.
Roberto Firmino: 6/10
Imagine going the game and ending up with Bobby Firmino on your lap! Still not sure how Holgate wasn’t booked for that! pic.twitter.com/1zAYkOgYD0
— The Redmen TV (@TheRedmenTV) January 6, 2018
Another player who wasn’t at his best on Friday. Firmino was hard working as ever and he also dropped deep to create space in attack, but he was often sloppy in possession and did not provide much of a threat in front of goal. The Brazilian might be in trouble after his clash with Holgate, who shoved him into the main stand.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
Wijnaldum came on for a tiring Lallana for the final twenty minutes and helped provide some control in midfield. The Dutchman was full of energy, which helped absorb the pressure from the Everton attack. As ever, much improved at home.