VAR and injuries take shine away from fantastic Thiago Alcântara debut

The Spanish international’s debut was excellent, but it was overshadowed by injuries and the use of VAR. SCOTT MASON looks at his sumptuous performance.

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Goals, controversial VAR decisions and a red card. This Merseyside derby was far from the goalless draws that we have seen from seasons past, as Liverpool were held to a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park. 

Sadio Mané opened proceedings in the third minute with a swift finish, before Everton responded through a Michael Keane header 16 minutes later. Mohamed Salah scored his 100th goal for Liverpool to put his side back ahead in the 72nd, but an in-form Dominic Calvert-Lewin would save the hosts with nine minutes remaining.


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It looked as if the Reds had grabbed a deserved late winner when Sadio Mané got on the end of an excellent reverse pass by Thiago Alcântara. The Senegalese then redirected the ball across the Toffees box to find Jordan Henderson who slotted it past Jordan Pickford. Unfortunately for the Premier League winning captain, Mané was deemed to be offside by inches in the build-up. 

While Liverpool’s No.10 would have been credited with the assist for the goal, it was full debutant Thiago who manufactured the move into existence. Throughout the game the No.6 was excellent, not looking out of place and rarely misplacing a pass. He completed the most passes of any player and finished with a 92pc passing accuracy creating two chances in the process. 

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The Spanish international also completed all four of his attempted dribbles, had 93 touches with 48 passes in the opposition’s half. These statistics led him to being ranked top in all three of these key areas. Defensively, he intercepted the ball twice, completing one tackle and won eight out of his thirteen duels. This showed his ability to contribute effectively on both sides of the ball. 

The midfielder started the game shaky but as the game went on, so did his confidence and influence on the fixture. He started to become calmer, more composed and made simple sideways passes look stylish. Liverpool fans had patiently waited a month to see their new world-class acquisition in action across a full 90 minutes, and the former Bayern Munich man certainly didn’t disappoint.

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However, after only just recovering from Covid-19, Thiago could be side-lined once again after Jürgen Klopp in his post-match interview said the 29-year-old felt he was “injured” by the challenge from Richarlison, resulting in a red card for the Everton forward. 

Thiago has undergone a scan alongside Virgil van Dijk, who was also injured in the derby, to understand the extent of their injuries. Hopefully, it’s good news on both ends so Reds fans can return to watching in comfort. Until then, it will be a nervous wait for the outcome with both players so paramount to the success of Liverpool this season.


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