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Van Dijk scores winner on Liverpool debut

Liverpool’s James Milner, centre left, celebrates with team mates after scoring his team’s first goal during the English FA Cup Third Round match against Everton at Anfield in Liverpool, England, on Friday. – AP/PTI
 LIVERPOOL, Jan 6: Virgil van Dijk scored a dramatic late winner on his debut as Liverpool clinched a 2-1 victory over Everton in a heated Merseyside derby FA Cup tie at Anfield.

 Liverpool had led 1-0 at the break after James Milner converted from the penalty spot but Everton looked to have secured a replay when Gylfi Sigurdsson equalised midway through the second half.

But Van Dijk, who became the world’s most expensive defender when he joined the Reds from Southampton, headed home six minutes from time in the 230th meeting between the sides.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp handed a debut to record £75 million signing Van Dijk as he selected arguably his strongest available starting line-up, in contrast to the 1-1 draw in the Premier League played out by the sides in December.

Brazil playmaker Philippe Coutinho was again ruled out with a thigh injury as speculation continues to mount over his future amid interest from Barcelona, while top-scorer Mohamed Salah was missing with a groin problem.

Everton, who confirmed the sale of midfielder Ross Barkley to Chelsea just before the match, were also at full strength.

There was no love lost between the supporters – Everton fans turning their backs during “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, while the Kop taunted the away end that they had not won anything since 1995.

If the atmosphere in the stands crackled, on the pitch, it was equally feisty. Wayne Rooney scythed down Joe Gomez early on and was duly shown a yellow card.

Chances, though, were at premium in the first half as Liverpool dominated possession.

Sadio Mane, who had been at the Confederation of African Football Awards in Ghana on Thursday, lacked his usual zip as he twice sent shots high into the stands while Milner also side-footed a half-volley past the post.

The breakthrough came five minutes after the half-hour mark when Liverpool were awarded a penalty by referee Bobby Madley. – AFP

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