Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford will face no retrospective punishment for his horror tackle that left Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk needing knee surgery in the weekend’s Merseyside derby between the two teams.
Reds centre back van Dijk, the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for 2018/19, damaged crucial knee ligaments in the dramatic 2-2 draw at Goodison Park on Saturday as the result of a challenge from England international Pickford.
However, the match officials inexplicably deemed the tackle was not worthy of being punished, neither blowing for a foul nor checking VAR despite the incident occurring inside the Everton penalty area.
The injury to van Dijk will likely keep the Dutchman sidelined for up to six months and potentially the rest of the season, but the Football Association (FA) confirmed on Monday that Pickford would not face any further action as the tackle was seen at the time and consulted with the match officials, including VAR.
— Virgil van Dijk (@VirgilvDijk) October 18, 2020
The decision to let the tackle go unpunished during the game led infuriated Liverpool fans to voice their disgust online, and even triggered an attempt to protest the decision with a march.
One brave Reds fan even went as far as to promise his “mate” van Dijk he would “get” Pickford for him, swearing he would bump into England’s accident-prone number one, much to the ridicule of social media users.
Following the FA’s announcement they would not retrospectively punish Pickford, some branded the decision “corruption of the highest order”, a “disgrace” and “utterly ridiculous”.
— NH (@JamesThomasNH) October 19, 2020
I bet Pickford is shitting himself Sean🤣 pic.twitter.com/bdwU4L2802
— alex😎 (@shutuplad) October 19, 2020
Utterly ridiculous https://t.co/5PZDBowc9Y
— Chris Fung (@chris_1129) October 19, 2020
Corruption of the highest order 🤣 https://t.co/FM3MY9sHTK
— DJ Lee (@DJLEE246) October 19, 2020
Despite Pickford’s tackle, the only red card in the game was shown to Everton midfielder Richarlison for an equally wince-inducing challenge on Thiago in the 90th minute.
Everton had twice gone behind at home but equalised on 81 minutes courtesy of a goal from in-form striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The drama continued into stoppage time, when Jordan Henderson had a last-gasp winner chalked off by VAR due to a dubiously offside Sadio Mane.