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STRIKE IT PLUCKY! LIVERPOOL 1 EVERTON 0 Origi 90+6 RAINBOW LACES WEEKEND; Origi heads a bizarre late winner after Pickford gaffe.

Byline: ANDY DUNN Chief Sports Writer @andydunnmirror

THERE is no sugarcoating it, no excuse to be found in the sheer freakishness of one of the most bizarre goals to ever settle a Merseyside derby.

For all Jordan Pickford's excellence, as demonstrated in parts of this contest, it is not hard to visualise a calamitous moment striking him.

That one arrived in the sixth minute of added time when Everton were heading for a well-deserved derby point simply multiplied its significance.

As Pickford (right) somehow cushioned Virgil van Dijk's wildly miscued volley on to the crossbar and watched it bounce down on to the rarely-seen head of Divock Origi for the only goal of an even game, the ramifications were instant.

For Everton, momentum built by a run of seven Premier League games with one loss was halted. Not only that, it was a bitter psychological pill to swallow, considering this was one of their more accomplished performances at Anfield in recent years.

Had Andre Gomes not seen a point-blank header somehow saved by Alisson in the first half, they might have gone on to win the game.

Yerry Mina also missed when his head was presented with a glorious scoring opportunity by a cultured Lucas Digne delivery.

For Liverpool, momentum, without reaching any sort of dazzling standard, is maintained. It would have been a stretch to suggest a single point from this game would have been a mighty setback in their pursuit of Manchester City.

But such is the relentlessness of Pep Guardiola's men, a gap of four points would half-resemble a chasm.

As they scratch for fluency, Liverpool remain only two points behind and unbeaten.

While Everton can feel a little aggrieved, specifically by the tragi-comic nature of their eventual downfall, the Liverpool victory was not some sort of travesty.

Just as Mina and Gomes declined tasty opportunities, so did Xherdan Shaqiri when only Pickford stood in his way, while Origi - a late replacement for the struggling Roberto Firmino - volleyed against the crossbar from a couple of yards out towards the end of regulation time.

But through the joyous furore of the finale, there might still be a couple of minor concerns for Jurgen Klopp.

One of those minor concerns, to go with the form of Firmino, might be Mo Salah. Last year, he decorated this fixture with one of the goals of the season, but this time he had a largely frustrating time and took an age to walk the width of the pitch when substituted with 20 minutes still to be played.

Safe to say, he was not happy to be hooked. Salah will still be in the vanguard of Liverpool's title challenge but he might be given the odd rest by Klopp over the manically busy festive period.

The Liverpool manager looked like he could use a lie-down himself after the astonishing ending.

It was no wonder Klopp dashed on to the field in typically crazed celebration.

There will probably be calls for him to be punished by the FA but can you really blame him for getting carried away after Pickford's rick?

No, and he was among those to sympathise with the Everton keeper.

Pickford is a brilliant lkeeper with a brilliant future but, in the context of this season, he might have just made a small but significant intervention in the title race.

And a high-stepping Jurgen Klopp knew it.

RATINGS

by ANDY DUNN mirror.co.uk/sport/football

LIVERPOOL

ALISSON 7 Miraculously denied Gomes from point blank range, a crucial stop

ALEXANDER-ARNOLD 7 Able to become more adventurous as the contest wore on

GOMEZ Booked 7 Brilliant slide and clearance the highlight of a decent display

VAN DIJK 6 Not at his most assured and distribution a little sketchy

ROBERTSON 6 Covered good defensive ground but not able to bomb on too much

FABINHO Booked 8 Solid contribution with some timely interventions in good areas

WIJNALDUM 6 Not a creative force and struggled to get a real foothold in the game

SHAQIRI Booked 6 Buzzed around to some effect but should have buried a first half chance

MANE 7 A real menace even if his finishing did let him down conclusively

FIRMINO 6 Scratching around for form at the moment but battled on

SALAH 6 Nothing much came off and not happy at being hooked

SUBS: Keita (Shaqiri 71) 6 Sturridge (Salah 75) 6 Origi (Firmino 84) g

EVERTON

PICKFORD 4 Eccentric day capped by an error he will not forget

COLEMAN 6 Typically tenacious resistance without offering much going forward

MINA 6 Should have scored with an early header but a solid showing

KEANE 6 Commanding in the air and played it safe on the deck

DIGNE 7 Brings class to the left flank along with good set-piece delivery

GUEYE 6 Usual amount of ground covered in a tireless contribution

WALCOTT 6 Lacked a bit of composure when he made a rare breakthrough

GOMES Booked 8 Adapted to the occasion easily and ran the show for his side

BERNARD 6 Always probing and kept Alexander-Arnold on the defensive

SIGURDSSON Booked 6 Struggled to make an impression but worked hard enough

RICHARLISON 6 Stuck to a tough task very well amid some rough treatment

SUBS: Lookman (Walcott 63) 6 Calvert-Lewin (Bernard 89) Zouma (Sigurdsson 90)

REF: Chris Kavanagh match stats 58% POSSESSION 42% 4 SHOTS ON TARGET 3 9 SHOTS OFF TARGET 4 8 CORNERS 1 3 OFFSIDE 2 12 FOULS 7 3 0 CARDS 2 0

CAPTION(S):

THANKS FOR THE GIFT Liverpool stars show their delight at being handed the points by Pickford's late error (above, left)
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 3, 2018
Words:936
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