Virgil van Dijk was left hobbling off the pitch in the Merseyside derby after a horror challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Pickford came out of his goal early in the game and smashed into Liverpool defender Van Dijk with a scissor motion, crushing the Dutchman’s outstretched knee.
Van Dijk immediately collapsed into a heap and needed extensive treatment in the area, before having no choice but to leave the pitch.
Jordan Pickford missed the ball completely and bit into Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk knee
Pickford handled the challenge poorly and planted his weight on Van Dijk’s leg at full speed
The tension in Van Dijk’s leg could be seen as Pickford snapped with a scissor motion
Huge questions were immediately put to Pickford, who was fortunate enough to escape a red card and penalty due to Van Dijk being in a marginal offside position.
The video assistant referee took a look at the situation, although he ruled that Van Dijk was not in a scoring position, so a verdict on Pickford could not be delivered.
With thousands of football fans around the world, social media was quickly inundated with instant reactions.
One user wrote: “It’s a legbreaker of a challenge without intention to hurt the player.” “
TV cameras captured all angles and showed the full extent of the horror tackle
Another added: “Offside or not, Pickford should be sent off for this disgusting challenge. “
Even Gary Neville, who rarely misses an opportunity to poke fun at his former rivals, took to Twitter to deliver his verdict that Pickford was “very lucky”.
Speaking to BT studio at halftime, former Liverpool player Peter Crouch said: “As former players, we’ll tell you, it’s a potential tackle to break your legs. It’s horrible.
If it happens in the middle of the field, sometimes they get away with it because they have to fly away. If that happens in the middle of the field, it’s an instant red card.
Everton icon Leon Osman, also as a studio specialist, added: “It’s an absolutely horrible tackle and we don’t want to see it in the game. It’s a career end. But it actually changed the dynamics of the game.
Jurgen Klopp had no choice but to remove Van Dijk, with Liverpool set to return to the Champions League next week against Ajax.
In his place was Joe Gomez, who had been sidelined from the starting line-up after Liverpool’s 7-2 loss to Aston Villa.
At the time of the incident, Liverpool were leading the game thanks to an early strike from Sadio Mane’s return in the opening minutes.
After Van Dijk left, Everton quickly found themselves in the game thanks to a header from Michael Keane from a corner.