Why Jordan Pickford should've been sent off for horror tackle on Virgil van Dijk

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was not sent off against Liverpool for his horrific challenge on Virgil van Dijk because the tackle was not even checked by VAR.

The Dutch centre-back had to be substituted inside the first 10 minutes of Saturday’s Merseyside derby after Pickford rushed off his line and jumped with both feet off the ground into Van Dijk’s standing leg, with the defender’s scream reverberating around Goodison Park.

Play was immediately stopped for a marginal offside call, with Van Dijk’s arm just beyond the foot of the last Everton defender, and no punishment was awarded to Pickford.

Although VAR looked at the incident, the focus was on the tight offside call with video assistant referee David Coote not even reviewing the challenge as he was too concerned by the offside.

Coote should have checked if there was a genuine attempt to play the ball by Pickford, but after the offside was cleared the check was rendered complete and play restarted with no review on the red card.

To add to the drama and sense of injustice about the decision, last season Van Dijk would have been onside but the handball rule change meant he was offside by centimetres.

Last season, the offside line was drawn under the armpit of defenders, but for this season there is a new point slightly above sleeve length – which is what pushed Van Dijk fractionally beyond the line of the Everton defence.

Regardless of whether Van Dijk was onside or not, VAR should have checked the tackle and Pickford should have been shown a red card, with a penalty also awarded.

Speaking about the incident, Steve McManaman said on commentary for BT Sport: ‘He could have easily been sent off for this challenge, I’m very surprised that it’s all just been forgotten about in the offside situation.

‘Because when you look at the challenge itself, I know it’s from a goalkeeper and you don’t expect it, but if that was in the centre of the park it would be a red card.

‘I don’t advocate getting players sent off, certainly early on in a game of this magnitude, but the fact that it’s just been brushed over by the referee and VAR is absolutely astounding for me. It was an awful challenge.’

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