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Van Dijk nets derby winner in Liverpool debut

Reuters

Defender Virgil van Dijk celebrates Liverpool’s victory over Everton in their English F.A. Cup third-round match on Friday at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool.

The Associated PressLIVERPOOL (AP) — It couldn’t have gone any better for Virgil van Dijk on his Liverpool debut.

Signed last week for $100 million as the world’s most expensive defender, Van Dijk scored an 84th-minute winner against Everton — Liverpool’s fierce local rival — in front of the storied Kop stand at Anfield in the third round of the English F.A. Cup on Friday.

“Playing at Anfield for Liverpool is a dream for every player,” the Netherlands defender said after the 2-1 win in the 230th Merseyside derby. “To score a goal is even more special.”

Manchester United also left it late to qualify for the fourth round, with in-form midfielder Jesse Lingard and striker Romelu Lukaku scoring in the final six minutes of regulation time in a 2-0 victory over second-tier Derby County at Old Trafford.

The third round continues across Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp had said center back van Dijk wasn’t “fine-tuned” following his big-money move from Southampton, and he wasn’t even going to start him until changing his mind the morning of the match.

Van Dijk looked a bit rusty with the ball at his feet, but was commanding in the air throughout, no more so than when he leapt in front of Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford at a corner to head the ball into an empty net.

“I think something like that is quite special,” Klopp said.

James Milner put Liverpool ahead in the 35th minute by converting a penalty, contentiously awarded after Adam Lallana fell to the ground after Mason Holgate placed his hands on the chest of the Liverpool midfielder.

Everton barely threatened in the first half, but was much more dangerous after the break, equalizing through Gylfi Sigurdsson after a counterattack following a Liverpool corner.

The most explosive incident in a typically high-octane derby came just after Milner’s goal when Holgate shoved Roberto Firmino into — and over — the advertising boards. A clearly unhappy Firmino vaulted back onto the field and sprinted toward Holgate, swearing in Portuguese, and was lucky that referee Bobby Madley stepped in between them to intervene.

Liverpool hasn’t lost to Everton in 16 matches — a club record — and Everton’s winless run at the home of its great rival extended to 21 games, dating back to 1999.

Barkley gets new life at Chelsea

LONDON (AP) — England midfielder Ross Barkley joined Chelsea from Everton on Friday as one of English soccer’s unfulfilled talents looked to revive his career.

The 24-year-old Barkley signed a 5½-year deal at the Premier League champions, with British media reporting a transfer fee of £15 million ($20.3 million) for a player whose contract was due to expire at the end of the season.

“To be given a fresh start at a new club like Chelsea, it’s unbelievable for me,” said Barkley, who hasn’t played this season after surgery on his hamstring.

Compared by many to England great Paul Gascoigne because of his technique, build and playing style, Barkley has been attached to Everton since the age of 11 and went to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championship with his country.

But he hasn’t developed as many would have hoped at the Merseyside club, with former coach Ronald Koeman scathing at times last season about the midfielder’s failure to make the next step in his career. He also struggled under the weight of expectation of Everton fans at Goodison Park.

In other news, the English Football Association has banned Arsene Wenger from the touchline for three games after the Arsenal manager accepted he was abusive when questioning the integrity of a referee.

Wenger’s outburst followed a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

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