Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk admits they were lucky not to have Ibrahim Konate sent off in the 2-0 Merseyside derby win over 10-man Everton.
Mohamed Salah scored twice late in the second half after Ashley Young was sent off for a second bookable offense just before the break, but the visitors were lucky referee Craig Pawson did not deem Konate’s already cautious tackle on substitute Beta worthy of another yellow.
Manager Jurgen Klopp’s decision to immediately substitute the France international to avoid a fifth red card of the campaign was almost an admission of guilt and Van Dijk believes they could finally have some fortune after a string of decisions that have gone against them this season.
“Absolutely. He (Pawson) could have given it, he didn’t. A bit of luck for us. So what can we say? Nothing else,” said the Dutch captain, who personally suffered a red card back in August in Newcastle.
Liverpool managed to overturn Alexis MacAllister’s sending-off at home to Bournemouth on appeal, but saw Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones sent off in a controversial defeat at Tottenham in which VAR officials made a huge error in disallowing Luis Diaz’s perfectly fine opener.
For a while, the club appeared to be in a running battle with Premier Game Match Officials Ltd over incidents in that game, leading to many questions about refereeing standards and some decisions in general.
In particular, the threshold for yellow cards seems to be lower this term in relation to time wasting and complaints.
Van Dijk said the players tried to avoid it spilling onto the pitch.
There were several opportunities during the win over Everton, such as for Young’s second caution and while waiting for VAR to overturn Pawson’s decision not to award Michael Keane a handball when the Liverpool captain was seen leading his teammates away. from the official.
“I think tackles and things the referee has to judge,” said the Dutchman.
“When the decision comes, we wanted to stay away from the referee and make sure we don’t get yellow cards for shouting or saying ‘Referee, yellow for this’.
“This is something we have influence over and should stay away from. We did very well, especially considering the circumstances.”
While Young’s dismissal made Everton’s task more difficult, they were on the back foot throughout the game after their only shot on target came in the opening minute.
A solid defensive effort and some poor execution in the final period kept the game goalless until Keane’s handball allowed Salah to score his 200th career league goal from the spot and he added his second from a quick clearance from Darwin Nunez deep into extra time.
“It was the game we expected. The red card changed it a bit, but we had our game plan, we had to be very patient,” Van Dijk added.
“When you score 1-0 in these games, it changes the whole dynamic of the game.
A fourth home win in a row kept Liverpool in the top four and only their second clean sheet in the Premier League was a further boost.
“Obviously it’s still early in the season but there are very positive signs, we’re very happy to keep a clean sheet, we won quite comfortably, we didn’t give away many chances,” Van Dijk said.
“We shouldn’t panic anyway, we have the quality that no matter what happens in the game, we lose 1-0 or it’s still 0-0 in the last few minutes, we’re chasing the winner, we have to be calm.”
“That’s the sign of a great team because we have players who can make a difference.