Mohamed Salah became the first Liverpool player since Peter Beardsley 32 years ago to score in Anfield’s opening four league matches with both goals in a 2-0 victory over 10-man Everton in the 243rd Merseyside derby.

Ashley Young, who has played in some of the world’s biggest cross-city clashes in Manchester, Milan and Birmingham, was sent for a second bookable offence shortly before half-time to make the Toffees’ task of ending their woeful record across Stanley Park even more difficult.

Salah converted a 75th-minute penalty after a Michael Keane handball and then converted a counter-attack in added time which meant the Everton fans present were still to see a ‘live’ victory at Anfield since 1999 as their only win in 2021 came behind closed doors during the Covid era.

Egypt international Salah’s penalty was the 15th consecutive Premier League match in which he had either scored or assisted and brought up Liverpool’s 50th goal against Everton at Anfield in the Premier League.

It was also his 200th career league goal, but his second was his 104th at home for Liverpool, taking him past greats Kenny Dalglish and Steven Gerrard into fifth place on the club’s all-time Anfield scorers list.

But despite Salah’s stellar statistics this was far from a classic derby encounter, even it was a predictably typical one.

Young’s 37th-minute red card – the 29th in this fixture and the 13th of the last 16 to be shown to Everton players – was not quite a turning point as Liverpool were well on top even at that stage but it was contentious.

Luis Diaz looked to have somewhat bought the first yellow when he went down after a tackle on the halfway line but once referee Craig Pawson had given that he had no option when Everton’s right-back brought down the Colombia international on the edge of the area.

Sean Dyche’s response at half-time was to replace his two wingers – Jack Harrison and Dwight McNeil – with defenders Nathan Patterson and Michael Keane and switch to a back five.

It did little for striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s prospects, whose only opportunity came just 36 seconds into the game when he headed tamely at Alisson Becker.

After that it was virtually one-way traffic, although Liverpool’s best openings seemed to come on the counter-attack and often from Everton attacking set-pieces.

They had a four-on-two at one stage but when Dominik Szoboszlai released Diaz in the penalty area his delayed shot that allowed Young to block.

Trent Alexander-Arnold drove a free-kick into the wall, Salah muscled McNeil off a 50-50 and curled a shot just over and an Alexis Mac Allister half-volley from 30 yards was claimed at the second attempt by Jordan Pickford.

But Klopp’s side were nowhere near their sharpest in the final third and that played right into Everton’s hands.

Young’s sending-off tipped the balance even further in favour of the home side but they continued to be repelled with Salah’s 52nd-minute shot blocked by James Tarkowski.

Everton’s numerical disadvantage and lack of wingers emboldened Klopp to replace left-back Kostas Tsimikas, making his first start of the season in place of the long-term injured Andy Robertson, with Diaz to allow the introduction of Darwin Nunez and Harvey Elliott.

Konate, whom Everton’s coaching staff felt should also have had a second yellow card for a foul on Calvert-Lewin’s replacement Beto, was also removed for his own good.

Keane must have wished he could have been afford the same courtesy when his outstretched arm blocked Diaz’s cross.

Dawson initially gave a corner but VAR advised him to review the pitchside monitor and he reversed his decision and Salah sent Pickford the wrong way from the spot.

Elliott and Jota both went close as the onslaught continued but it was Salah who benefited from Nunez’s quick counter-attack as he clipped home his second as Liverpool extended their record to one defeat in the last 28 derbies and Everton slumped to a sixth loss of the season.

Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson is facing three months on the sidelines with manager Jurgen Klopp admitting the defender’s pending shoulder surgery will be “a big loss” for the club.

The Scotland captain sustained the problem on international duty against Spain but having been assessed on his return to Merseyside the club have decided an operation is the best solution – even if it means the 29-year-old faces a lengthy absence.

“There is a little chance we could try without but talking to pretty much all experts it looks like surgery will be the best thing, especially in the long term definitely, and that means he is out for a while,” said Klopp.

“You only see the real extent of injury when you have a look into it, like properly open (up the shoulder) and fix it – but my experience tells me around about three months.

“That is a shoulder (injury), usually not a lot of times you say it was earlier but Robbo is a quick healer, that is true.

“In this specific case we have to make sure the shoulder structure is stable, because the moment the boy starts all the normal contact stuff again the player has to be ready for that.

“I don’t exactly when, but next Wednesday (or whenever he has the operation) we will know more.

“In my experience you can train pretty quickly again but not football-specific because you have to be careful of challenges and all these kind of things so he will be out for a while. It is a big loss.”

Robertson has played every minute of all eight Premier League matches this season and has been ultra-reliable for Klopp, having missed just five matches in 275 appearances in more than six years for the club.

It means the Scot’s back-up Kostas Tsimikas, who has made 65 appearances in just over three seasons and many of those as a substitute, could make only his second appearance in a Merseyside derby on Saturday.

Other alternatives are the predominantly right-sided Joe Gomez, who has more experience, and 19-year-old Luke Chambers, whose only first team appearance was as an 89th-minute substitute in last month’s Carabao Cup win over Leicester.

On the significance of Tsimikas being ready, Klopp added: “It always was like this.

“Thank God it is not only Kostas we have for that because for the amount of games we have we would already be a bit short.

“But we have Joe Gomez who can play the position, Luke Chambers and other young boys who show up in training quite frequently.

“There is a lot of talent in there so you need options and that is clear. Kostas is definitely the most experienced in the position but he cannot play all the games from now on so we need other options as well and we have to make sure we make all of them.”

Klopp could also field a midfield with no derby experience – Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Ryan Gravenberch and Wataru Endo all arrived in the summer – but the Reds boss does not believe that is a concern.

“It is a special game no doubt but a high pressure game and they all played them. Macca played the World Cup with Argentina, Dom played Serbia recently in a super-important, high-pressure game so they are all used to the kind of game,” he added.

“The exact game, not, but I cannot show them a movie of derbies and say that is how they should be. I don’t think we have to make it too big.”

Liverpool have lost just one of the last 18 matches against their closest rivals – the behind-closed-doors one at Anfield in the Covid era in February 2021 – but Klopp is not thinking about their record.

“It is rather uncomfortable if you tell me about my good record because it doesn’t matter,” he said.

“We try to make sure we don’t think about these things but make sure we are ready, we understand the importance of the game and can’t remember one moment when I said ‘weekend derby’ and enjoyed this thought.”

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson is set for a long spell on the sidelines as he is to have surgery on a shoulder injury.

The Scotland captain sustained the problem on international duty but having been assessed on his return to Merseyside the club have decided an operation is the best solution.

“There is a little bit there, I think the decision is we go towards surgery,” said manager Jurgen Klopp.

“There is a little chance we could try without but talking to pretty much all experts it looks like surgery will be the best thing, especially in the long term definitely, and that means he is out for a while.

“I don’t know exactly how long but it is shoulder surgery so not exactly an easy one.

“In my experience you can train pretty quickly again but not football-specific because you have to be careful of challenges and all these kind of things so he will be out for a while.”

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson is to have surgery on a shoulder injury.

The Scotland captain sustained the problem on international duty and is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

“It looks like surgery will be the best,” said manager Jurgen Klopp.

“That means he will be out for a while. Shoulder surgery is not an easy one.”

VARs Darren England and Daniel Cook will return to Premier League duty this weekend following their error in last month’s fixture between Tottenham and Liverpool.

England and Cook were the VAR and VAR assistant respectively when Liverpool forward Luis Diaz’s goal was incorrectly ruled out for offside in Tottenham’s 2-1 home win.

Both officials were stood down the following week, but England will be back as the fourth official for Brentford’s home game against Burnley on Saturday and Cook will return as assistant referee for Sheffield United’s home match against Manchester United.

Miscommunication between VAR England and referee Simon Hooper led to Diaz’s goal being wrongly ruled out on September 30, with the incident later described by referees’ chief Howard Webb as “a clear error”.

Hooper is the designated VAR for Newcastle’s home game against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

New VAR guidelines were introduced in the wake of the Diaz disallowed goal controversy, while audio of the incident was later released.

England mistakenly thought the on-field officials had ruled Diaz to be onside, which meant that when he told them ‘check complete’ they believed he had upheld their on-field decision and restarted play with a free-kick.

Once play had restarted, there was nothing the VARs could do to revisit the decision under existing protocols.

Referees’ body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) said it would develop a new VAR communication protocol in an effort to avoid similar mistakes being made in future.

PGMOL said the protocol would “enhance the clarity of communication between the referee and the VAR team in relation to on-field decisions”.

VARs will now also confirm the outcome of the checking process with the assistant VAR before confirming the final decision to the on-field officials.

One of the talking points from the latest round of fixtures was referee Michael Oliver’s decision not to send off Manchester City’s Mateo Kovacic for a challenge on Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard.

The City midfielder was shown a yellow card before avoiding another shortly afterwards and Webb later admitted Kovacic was “fortunate” to stay on the pitch.

Oliver will referee Sheffield United’s home game against Manchester United on Saturday.

Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham has raised the prospect of the game’s lawmakers examining whether audio between referees and VARs should be available live.

Miscommunication between VAR Darren England and referee Simon Hooper led to a Luis Diaz goal for Liverpool at Tottenham being wrongly disallowed last month, leading to further calls for such conversations to be played out in real time.

The incident caused huge controversy, with Reds manager Jurgen Klopp even calling for the match to be replayed.

Broadcasting the conversations between on-field officials and VARs live is currently prohibited under football’s laws.

Bullingham, who is a director at the International Football Association Board (IFAB) which has the power to change the game’s laws, said the organisation had discussed the subject but added: “Generally there is a split in the room over that, and quite often it is between the marketing and commercial people and the referees.

“Our point of view, from the marketing and commercial perspective, would normally be that transparency is a really good thing, and we want fans to have the maximum experience.”

Bullingham said an ongoing FIFA trial where referees announce and explain the outcome of an on-field review is a “step in the right direction” but added: “My personal point of view is I do think (live audio) will continue to be a question over time, because the greater transparency shows how difficult the referee’s job is, and it has worked in other sport.

“There is an understandable nervousness from others that the referee’s job is hard enough as it is. In a tournament you have referees with multiple languages, so it is not as straightforward as some might suggest.

“So I think we are taking a step in the right direction with announcing the decision and explaining why it has been reached. Let’s see if that leads to further progression.”

Bullingham’s Irish FA counterpart and fellow IFAB director Patrick Nelson spoke more cautiously on the VAR decision-making process, adding: “We just need to see more evidence on this at the moment.

“It’s interesting when we look at recent examples but we still need to remember that VAR as an entire concept is relatively in its infancy compared to the game of football and compared to IFAB. There is still more that we can learn.”

The PA news agency understands the IFAB is set to open up the trial of in-stadium announcements by referees beyond FIFA events to other interested competitions.

The IFAB may also look again at the wording of Principle 10 in the VAR protocol, which currently prevents VARs from revisiting a decision once play has restarted and meant the officials could not call play back after the Diaz error.

It could be updated to allow a decision to be revisited where a clear mistake has occurred, and where no significant action has taken place since play restarted.

Bullingham also said he was aware IFAB had been asked to consider widening the scope of VAR to rule on decisions such as corner kick and free-kick awards.

“I think we would be really reluctant to have a game that was stopped a lot more than it currently is, but that will be a proper discussion,” he added.

VAR interventions are currently limited to goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity.

Micky van de Ven’s first goal in English football fired 10-man Tottenham to the Premier League summit with a 1-0 win at Luton.

Spurs entered this fixture following a controversial 2-1 victory over Liverpool last weekend, where Jurgen Klopp’s side were denied a legitimate goal due to a “significant human error” by VAR operator Darren England.

It meant three points for Ange Postecoglou’s team at Kenilworth Road would send them to the summit for at least 24 hours, but they had to work hard for it after Yves Bissouma was sent off in first-half stoppage-time.

Bissouma was booked twice in quick succession by referee John Brooks, the second for simulation, but Van de Ven’s close-range finish in the 52nd minute earned Tottenham a hard-fought win.

This was the first meeting between the clubs since 1992 and the hostile atmosphere was a throwback to that era with even TNT pundits Rio Ferdinand and Peter Crouch booed ahead of kick-off.

Spurs had put seven goals past the other newly-promoted teams this season and should have added to that tally inside 10 minutes.

Richarlison was guilty of fluffing his lines twice, firing off target via his shin with the goal at his mercy from Dejan Kulusevski’s third-minute cross before Thomas Kaminski denied the Brazilian with his feet after James Maddison’s slick through ball 60 seconds later.

Pedro Porro was next to squander an excellent opportunity when Son Heung-min played him through and he fired wide. The Tottenham captain also curled into the stand before Luton started to settle.

Huge cheers greeted the Hatters’ first corner in the 25th minute, although top goalscorer Carlton Morris could only send his header off target following Alfie Doughty’s delivery.

The visitors remained a threat and a driving run by Pape Sarr set up Kulusevski, but Kaminski produced an excellent fingertip save to parry the 18-yard curler wide.

Luton had the ball in the net after 39 minutes but it was immediately ruled out and a VAR check showed Elijah Adebayo had shoved Cristian Romero.

Doughty’s free-kick dropped for Adebayo, who after pushing Romero flicked over Guglielmo Vicario and onto the post where Lockyer headed in, only for it to be disallowed.

The free-kick came from a Bissouma foul on Chiedozie Ogbene and referee Brooks booked the Tottenham midfielder for a professional foul.

A second yellow card followed in first-half stoppage time for simulation when Bissouma went down under close proximity from Marvelous Nakamba, but there was no contact and Brooks correctly sent off the visiting player.

Luton should have taken the lead two minutes after half-time when Ogbene held off Destiny Udogie and crossed in for Adebayo, but he could not steer his effort on target.

The hosts were hit with a sucker-punch in the 52nd minute when Van de Ven opened his account for Tottenham.

After a number of corners in quick succession, it proved third time lucky for Postecoglou’s side when Maddison collected Kulusevski’s short corner and brilliantly spun away from Doughty before he cut back for Van de Ven to slot home from six yards.

It briefly silenced the partisan Kenilworth Road crowd but they were soon roaring their team on and Doughty dragged wide soon after the opener.

Morris tested Vicario minutes later and, although Porro sent an effort just past the post for Tottenham in the 62nd minute, Luton started to build momentum.

Jacob Brown headed over before substitute Cauley Woodrow had a weak shot saved.

A deflected effort wide by Doughty was the final warning sign for Postecoglou, who introduced Emerson Royal and Oliver Skipp for Son and Maddison with 14 minutes left but Spurs held on to go top.

Virgil Van Dijk is excited by Liverpool’s blend of youth and experience and hopes it can propel them to success this season.

The Dutchman was named as the Reds’ new captain this summer following the departure of Jordan Henderson, who was among a number of long-serving players to leave Anfield.

This season has seen Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp blood young talents like 17-year-old winger Ben Doak and 20-year-old defender Jarell Quansah along with new signings Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Ryan Gravenberch.

Van Dijk told the PA news agency: “I don’t see it as a challenge, things happen for a reason, players move on and new players come in, players get new roles and I think that’s a very exciting thing.

“Obviously the captain has changed, the vice-captain has changed, the leadership group has changed, the players have different responsibilities outside the pitch. I think everyone is enjoying their roles at the moment and the team spirit is very high.

“Everyone is realising that everyone has a role to play and, whether you start, if you’re on the bench or whether you come on, everyone is trying to make a difference. I think so far that’s really good and that’s the basis of success.

“I think the squad we have at the moment looks very exciting. We have the quality to make it difficult for every team in the world.”

Van Dijk enjoys helping guide the younger members of the squad, saying: “You feel a responsibility. I know exactly how I was when I came up the ranks when I was younger.

“It’s never easy and, as one of the older guys, one of the experienced guys, I want to help them where I can.

“Obviously you don’t need to hold their hands but you need to make sure they’re able to perform in the best way possible and I think so far everyone is really enjoying doing that and we have to just keep that level.”

The Reds certainly seem to have turned a corner after last season’s struggles, winning seven games in a row in all competitions prior to last weekend’s controversial loss to Tottenham.

Van Dijk admits it was initially tough to move on following Luis Diaz’s wrongly disallowed goal and red cards for Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota, but he said: “It’s part of life. Obviously it’s difficult but life gives you challenges so you have to deal with it.

“You definitely can take a lot of positive things out of that game. Obviously it’s quite difficult when you lose to see the positive things immediately and that was definitely a difficult period after the game but a couple of days later you realise and you analyse certain things.

“I was really proud to see how strong my team was as a unit. It’s something to build on and we will build on this and just keep going.”

Next up for Liverpool is an away trip on Sunday to Brighton, who will be looking for a response of their own after last weekend’s 6-1 hammering by Aston Villa.

“It’s not really about showing a reaction, it’s just trying to play the best game that you can do at that time,” said Van Dijk. “It’s the last game before the international break so we want to finish this part of the season well.

 

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“Obviously they had a difficult result the other day but I think they’re a very, very good team with a very good manager, a clear style of play and it’s always been difficult the games we’ve played against them over the last couple of years.

“It’s going to be tough but we have to be confident and try to do everything in our power to win the game. Obviously we have the quality to make it difficult for them and we have to show it.

“The main thing for us is to stay consistent. That’s the key to winning something. And obviously no injuries, and that’s what we try to avoid. I’m very happy with the start we had as a team.”

Van Dijk was speaking in his new role as an ambassador for McDonald’s Fun Football, the largest free grass-roots participation programme in the UK, which offers 250,000 children every year the opportunity to play for free.

“I’m so glad that I’m part of this whole campaign,” said the 32-year-old. “I just want to be an example for the kids. The last free football session I attended in the city centre of Liverpool I took my two eldest daughters with me and they had an amazing time.”

:: McDonald’s Fun Football offers girls and boys, aged 5-11, access to fun and inclusive coaching across the UK for free. Sign up now at mcdonalds.co.uk/football

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits they have not had time to properly assess where World Cup-winner Alexis Mac Allister fits into their side.

The Argentina midfielder has started all seven of the club’s Premier League fixtures since arriving from Brighton in a cut-price £35million deal, but has been deployed in the nominal holding role after the departures of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to Saudi Arabia left them short in that department.

Mac Allister has shown he is far more effective further forward in one of the attacking midfield positions, and while he has done a job for Klopp, it appears unlikely he is the long-term solution.

He was even substituted at half-time of the win at Wolves, having flown back from Bolivia after the international break after looking well off the pace.

Nevertheless Klopp is satisfied with what he has had from the 24-year-old so far.

“We didn’t even look for his best position yet. We just use him,” he said.

“He is a fantastic player, I love everything about him: super-smart tactically and off the pitch as well, so that is really nice to work with.

“If we as a team defend well, he can play definitely the number six. Did I know that before? I had a guess but I was not sure because I did not know exactly how all the other boys would do defending.

“Because we defend more compact and better than in our bad phases last year, we have small spaces and then it is really good because he sees the situations really well.

“We have a really good footballer and it is really cool but best position? He is too young for me to know it but he is a midfielder, I can tell you that.

“He is a midfielder and I am happy about having him.”

Mac Allister is one-third of a midfield rebuild this summer with Dominik Szobozslai the other mainstay after his £60m arrival from RB Leipzig.

Forward Cody Gakpo, another new signing Wataru Endo – the one genuine number six in the squad – and Curtis Jones have filled the other space in midfield in Premier League matches this season.

However, the gradual emergence of Ryan Gravenberch, a deadline-day arrival from Bayern Munich, points towards the 21-year-old staking a claim to be the third man alongside Mac Allister and Szobozslai, who are destined to be locked in for the long term.

The Dutchman scored his first goal in the 2-0 Europa League victory over Union Saint Gilloise as his integration into the side – he has started three non-Premier League games but has only been a substitute at weekends – continues to grow apace.

For a relative youngster, Gravenberch has a certain presence on the pitch and Klopp expects him to grow further with more experience.

“Raw power – I am not sure a lot of people would have described him in the past like that,” said the manager.

“He is technically incredibly good. The first touch is insane, the speed is top class, really good shooter.

“Yes he came late and yes we play slightly different and yes he needs time to adapt, and that is what we can give him, thank God.

“He is completely happy with that and in the groove; he realises in each training sessions he is treated completely like others, if he starts or not.

“He gets even more information in specific moments. He can see what the other boys do in similar positions, he can watch it, he learns, he is a smart boy, everything goes in the right direction and that is really nice to see.

“He has had assists in the other games and now he has his first goal. Now it is good, long may it continue, he is very important for us.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed Ryan Gravenberch’s “obvious talent” as the midfielder paved the way for the 2-0 win over Union Saint-Gilloise with his first goal for the club.

The Netherlands international, a £34million summer signing from Bayern Munich, made only his third start of the season and after impressing in the first European outing another all-round performance was capped with what he described as “the easiest goal of my career”.

Gravenberch capitalised on an error from goalkeeper Anthony Moris, who fumbled Trent Alexander-Arnold’s shot to present a tap-in for the 21-year-old a minute before half-time.

It was a crucial goal as Liverpool had wasted a number of chances prior to that and although they were rarely in trouble Diogo Jota’s goal in added time at the end of the second half secured a second successive Europa League victory.

“It is really obvious how good he is, the talent he is,” said Klopp of a player who arrived on transfer deadline so has had to be gradually introduced to English football with three Premier League substitute appearances.

“He is enjoying the situation and it is very important the confidence back, that is really good to see.

“We thought he might be able to play 90 (minutes), we wanted to give him 90 but we saw he dropped a bit so that’s why we took him off.”

Jota responded to Saturday’s sending off for two yellow cards – which means he is suspended for Sunday’s trip to Brighton – with his fourth goal of the season.

“How should he deal with it? I knew it would be difficult. That (controversial defeat to Tottenham) is long ago and we are over that and Diogo is over it as well. We are not children.

“From a focus point of view, it was not a problem to focus on the game, in the game it was a problem to keep being focused because that was how it looked a little bit.

“We got a bit sluggish, I didn’t like that too much but that was nothing to do with the last game or the last week. That’s the challenge in football any way.”

Two successive wins puts Liverpool two points clear at the top of Group E and victory over Toulouse, two points behind, in three weeks’ time would put them on the verge of qualification for the knockout stages.

But it was far from the sort of free-flowing performance seen by the side this season as they missed a number of chances and then started to lose their way in the second half.

“(I liked) the start and the result. The goals, the chances we created. What I didn’t like is we lost rhythm after 25 minutes,” Klopp added.

“It’s very difficult to keep rhythm in games like this but it’s important. We should have scored earlier but got the second in stoppage time.

“We should use our chances better more often if we want to be successful in competitions but I’m not angry or concerned, it’s just how it is. We know we have to do better.

“It was a mature professional performance, we got the result we wanted but know we can do better.”

Union coach Alexander Blessin knew his side were up against it before a ball was even kicked but was disappointed they did not gain more confidence from keeping their hosts at bay for almost the entire first half.

“In the end I’m proud of the team, but we saw the strength of Liverpool,” he said.

“I had the feeling that the game changed (after Liverpool’s start) and in those moments you need it to go your way.”

Ryan Gravenberch benefited from an error by Union Saint-Gilloise goalkeeper Anthony Moris to score his first goal for the club as Liverpool laboured to a 2-0 Europa League victory to maintain their 100 per cent record in Group E.

For all the attacking firepower at their disposal – and it was considerable with Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota boasting 248 goals between them – it was a 21-year-old former Ajax and Bayern Munich midfielder who had scored just nine in five years who popped up with the breakthrough at a crucial moment a minute before half-time.

That two of the front three were replaced at the interval was more down to a prepared plan rather than a reflection of their first-half contributions but if either had been anywhere close to their sharpest the game would have been out of sight before Gravenberch’s intervention.

Jota remained on for the whole game and scored the second with a breakaway in added time to ease any late nerves.

Salah’s first Europa League start for the club would have led to speculation about just how much devastation he could inflict, especially after his 16-minute cameo in their first European game produced a goal, an assist and a couple of other chances.

In his 150th game at Anfield he should have added to the 103 he has scored already on this ground as early as the fifth minute.

The excellent young centre-back Jarrell Quansah, deputising for rested captain Virgil van Dijk, won the ball high in midfield and released the Egypt international through the middle but he could not beat the goalkeeper.

It was the beginning of a long list of chances ultimately concluded by Gravenberch’s close-range effort and while Liverpool never looked in any real danger after Gustaf Nilsson had headed over Union’s best midway through the first half until the latter stages the game was more of a grind than it should have been.

Nunez’s 10th-minute rebound goal from Gravenberch’s shot was flagged offside and, on this occasion, UEFA’s VAR officials swiftly made the correct call.

A video replay only increased the Uruguay international’s embarrassment with his next effort, however, as he screwed wide from six yards having opted to go with his right instead of left foot for Salah’s cross after Harvey Elliott had carried ball effortless through the Union midfield.

A weak Salah header straight at the goalkeeper, a Jota penalty claim turned down and a Nunez shot tipped around the near post from Ibrahima Konate’s diagonal pass all followed as chances came and went.

After all just about withstanding all that in-your-face pressure Union were undone from their own attacking corner as captain-for-the-night Trent Alexander-Arnold broke down the left, cut inside on his right foot and drilled in a low shot which bounced in front of Moris.

It was not the most vicious of strikes and the Luxembourg international should have done better than to spill the ball a couple of yards in front of him.

It was all the encouragement Gravenberch needed and he popped home the rebound from close range.

A triple half-time substitution brought an end to the participation of the misfiring Salah and Nunez and also midfielder Wataru Endo as Jurgen Klopp sent on Luis Diaz, Curtis Jones and Alexis Mac Allister – who was made to wait 45 minutes to face his brother Kevin in the opposition defence.

After an early scare when Alisson Becker missed his punch at a corner and almost turned the ball into his own net only for Quansah to sweep up behind him.

Moris tipped over a Jota header and did even better denying Gravenberch a second from a curling shot and even when he was beaten by Diaz his left-hand post came to his aid, while Jones narrowly missed the target with a low shot.

Jota’s goal made the game safe and victory over Toulouse, two points behind, at Anfield in three weeks will go a long way to securing qualification to the knockout stages but Liverpool cannot afford to be so sloppy if they want to enjoy comfortable progress.

Former FIFA referee Duarte Gomes has leapt to the defence of VAR amid the furore surrounding Liverpool's Premier League defeat to Tottenham, calling the technology's introduction "the best thing to happen to football". 

The use of VAR is a hot topic in the English top flight again after Luis Diaz was incorrectly denied a goal in Liverpool's 2-1 loss to in-form Spurs.

Darren England – the VAR official on duty at the time – misunderstood the on-field call to chalk the goal off for offside, inadvertently clearing an incorrect decision.

Liverpool have reacted furiously to the incident, which played a part in their first defeat of the season, with boss Jurgen Klopp suggesting the game should be replayed on Wednesday.

However, Gomes – a retired Portuguese referee who officiated in FIFA and UEFA competitions between 2002 and 2016 – says the ability of those using the technology is the issue, not the technology itself.

Speaking to Stats Perform at the Thinking Football Summit, Gomes admitted officials were still adapting to the technology but said it had already righted "thousands" of incorrect decisions.

"I don't have the slightest doubt that it's the best thing that's happened to football and to referees for decades," Gomes said.

"I know that we have a big, long way to run yet. It's not perfect, far from that. People who work with VAR are also learning and they are focused always on their careers as a referee on the pitch. 

"The process of decision-making was completely different, and then you put them in a room with many screens and tell them to decide in a different way they have to adjust. 

"As with everybody, there are some people who have more competence than others. We are now on that trail to try to be there. 

"Nevertheless, in factual decisions, let's say, for example, offsides or with goal-line technology, I believe that around the world, thousands and thousands of goals have been saved or cancelled correctly after VAR. 

"So yes, it's good for football. It's a Ferrari, you just have to have the right driver to be there.

"I've made many mistakes with the human eye; penalties, decisions, yellow or red cards, things that I missed. VAR could help me a lot. I would have been a better referee if I had it."

Gomes also believes, however, that technology cannot become all-invasive in football, emphasising the need to preserve the emotional nature of the sport.   

"I'm a little concerned about AI in the future, of course also in refereeing matters. I believe it will have an important role," he added.

"Sitting here right now, I don't know if I will have a different way of thinking in 10 years. We are always adjusting, but I believe technology should always help until the point that humans decide.

"Human first, technology after, not the other way around because football is for people. It's played for people, with people, and refereed with people, and that's what gives the emotion.

"If you become very technological, it's very difficult to have an emotional sport and then it will lose many of its values, so yes, technology is always to help, not as a substitute for the referee."

Gomes also feels the rise of social media has had a major impact on the levels of abuse received by officials. In a high-profile incident from last season, Roma boss Jose Mourinho was given a four-match ban by UEFA for angrily confronting referee Anthony Taylor after his team lost the Europa League final.

"I believe it's getting worse because social media gives the right to everybody to criticise, especially the ones who didn't do it with a public voice before," he said.

"Football is a social phenomenon and it's unique because it can put you in a very emotional state, sometimes an irrational state, which is worse. 

"You cannot ask people to be reasonable when they have their emotions so strongly attached to their teams and their competitions. 

"Sometimes you have to let the balloon go down a little bit and then ask them for some tolerance again. Nobody wants to hear the explanation of law one or law two, [but] you have to do it slowly, you have to try and try."

While Alan Smith accepts Liverpool have every right to be hurt by the VAR error which cost them in Saturday's loss to Tottenham, he thinks Jurgen Klopp's team have no choice but to move on. 

PGMOL, the body responsible for match officials in English football, admitted a "significant human error" was committed when the decision to disallow Luis Diaz's first-half strike – which was flagged offside – was not overturned. 

The audio recording of the decision-making process surrounding the incident was made public on Tuesday, revealing VAR Darren England misunderstood the nature of the on-field decision when clearing the check.

Diaz's wrongly disallowed effort occurred when the game was goalless, with Liverpool down to 10 men following Curtis Jones' straight red card. 

Diogo Jota was also sent off in the second half before Joel Matip's stoppage-time own goal handed Spurs a dramatic 2-1 victory, maintaining their flying start to the Premier League season.

Liverpool subsequently said the "sporting integrity" of the game had been "undermined" in a statement, and boss Klopp made further headlines on Wednesday. 

Speaking at a press conference ahead of Liverpool's Europa League fixture against Union SG, Klopp called for the Spurs game to be replayed, labelling the situation "unprecedented".

While Arsenal great Smith has sympathy for Liverpool, he maintains the Reds have no option but to accept they were wronged. 

Speaking to Stats Perform at the Legends of Football event, in aid of Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy, Smith said: "I was amazed when they played on and the offside was upheld.

"It was a lack of communication, big time.

"I can't understand how that happened, but it's not great because it casts a shadow over the game, over VAR especially, and Liverpool are clearly very upset. 

"You can't blame them, but I think you've just got to suck it up and carry on really. It's done. It's done now."

The incident has sparked further debate about the impact and implementation of VAR, but former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein says the technology will become more effective as time goes on, calling for supporters to "stick with it".

"Well, it comes down to two words, human error, and that's going to happen," Dein said. "People have got to understand.

"I'm a great supporter of VAR. Before VAR came in, the referees were making one game-changing error every three games. That's been reduced dramatically.

"You'll see as the years go by. It's still in its infancy. It only came in the World Cup in Russia in 2018. That was when VAR was really introduced. 

"It's going to get better and more efficient as time goes on. I'm a great supporter. You've got to stick with it."

Arsenal Women's manager Jonas Eidevall was also speaking at the event, and he outlined his belief that semi-automatic offside technology – which is used in UEFA competitions – should be adopted by PGMOL.

"With VAR, as long as there is a human element to it, there can always be human errors," Eidevall said.

"If you do the semi-automatic offside technology, you don't really have a human element to that and you get less errors. So I think that's a good example. Goal-line technology is another one. 

"The referees are also going to get better, over time, at working with a system like VAR. That's also very obvious and they will also learn things every season. They want to get things right."

Meanwhile, VAR – and goal-line technology – was a hot topic across the opening weekend of the Women's Super League season, with officials failing to award Guro Reiten a goal despite the ball clearly crossing the line in Chelsea's 2-1 win over Tottenham.

Asked if he expected VAR to grace the league soon, Eidevall said: "Yes, I do. I think that's where the development is heading. I don't know if that's next season or the season after. 

"I think when we do, if we implement it, it has to be the full version. 

"What I don't want to see in the women's game is for them to implement a cheaper version of VAR with less camera angles. That makes it really difficult for the referees to see the situations."

Tottenham celebrated another jaw-dropping 2-1 stoppage-time victory as Joel Matip’s own goal finally broke nine-man Liverpool’s resistance.

Saturday evening’s box office battle pitted together exciting, resurgent sides that had both begun the new Premier League season unbeaten having bounced back from chastening campaigns last term.

Jurgen Klopp’s men were seconds away from leaving north London with a fantastic point after Cody Gakpo cancelled out Son Heung-min’s opener in a match which saw the visitors have two players sent off.

Curtis Jones and half-time introduction Diogo Jota were sent off at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where Spurs finally beat Liverpool at the fifth time of asking.

Just like in their last home game against Sheffield United a fortnight ago, Ange Postecoglou’s men triumphed thanks to a stunning stoppage-time conclusion.

This time it was Liverpool defender Matip providing the key touch, inadvertently turning home Pedro Porro’s cross to spark wild celebrations in the sixth minute of added time.

Jurgen Klopp joked that he used the promise of the captain’s armband to sell Curtis Jones on the idea of playing right-back for Liverpool in Wednesday’s 3-1 Carabao Cup win over Leicester.

Jones was the only player retained from Saturday’s 3-1 win over West Ham, but dropped back from midfield to fill in on the right side of defence in the absence of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez, with Stefan Bajcetic on the bench after playing right-back against LASK last week.

Even with plenty of experience in the side, the 22-year-old Jones took the armband as he adjusted to a new role.

“Yesterday, when I told him he will play right-back, I sold the right-back idea with the captaincy,” Klopp said.

“He was already completely excited when I told him he would play right-back, and the way he executed it was super special, I have to say. Wow.

“We thought about him because we couldn’t play Stefan, we have to be careful with him. Joey will be OK for the weekend (away to Tottenham) but was not OK for today so we have to find solutions and Curtis was always in my mind as a potential solution.

“He enjoys being on the ball and the deeper you are the more often you can get the ball. It was a top performance I have to say for the first time in for him a strange position. I liked that. He’s in a good moment and could probably play each position.

“But we will try to use him as often as possible in his natural position.”

Jones was one of several Liverpool players to earn praise from Klopp after their come-from-behind victory.

Dominik Szoboszlai took the headlines after hitting a superb strike to give Liverpool the lead just five minutes after coming off the bench, completing the turnaround after Cody Gakpo’s goal early in the second half had cancelled out Kasey McAteer’s effort, with Diogo Jota getting a late third.

But Klopp reeled off a list of several performances he was impressed by, including those from Wataru Endo, Jarell Quansah, Harvey Elliott, and Ryan Gravenberch.

“There were super signs, I really like that a lot,” Klopp said. “The boys enjoyed playing it and you saw how they were pressing until the last second. They really enjoyed it and that’s cool.

“Minute by minute, we grew into that game and it was a top performance, to be honest.

“With all the quality of Leicester, we have to admit that as well, super-coached team obviously, super set-up, you can pretty much see, feel and smell the confidence they have because of their situation, so that made life difficult.

“But we kept going and improved during the game as a team clearly but individually as well, a lot of performances stepped up and here we are, and I like that a lot.”

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