Jordan Henderson had a score to settle with the Merseyside derby.
Amid all the pain and hubbub of Goodison’s controversial reunion last season, it’s easy to forget that the Liverpool skipper won a dramatic downtime thanks to a contentious offside appeal.
And when the teams reunited at Anfield a few months later, Henderson suffered from a groin problem which ultimately meant he did not replay that campaign.
The midfielder was then clearly determined to make up for lost time, judging by the barnstorming performance in which he helped the Reds take an early initiative that rarely looked like a slack.
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First his first game after nine minutes, a first precision of the left foot in the lower corner of a nice withdrawal from Andy Robertson.
Then, 10 minutes later, Henderson went creative, sacking Mohamed Salah to double the visitors’ advantage. It was his fourth assist of the season.
But a derby requires more than just attacking flair, especially in the engine room.
And the way Henderson was more than willing to put the big yards – and step into them when it mattered – underpinned everything else in his game.
Fabinho being Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara exorcising all lingering demons from his last appearance here – the duo remain undefeated in tandem – Liverpool dominated the midfield.
As always in these meetings, it was the crucial battle. And Henderson, after an early season swing, is back at heart.
Van Dijk proves the point
Whether in terms of emotion or opportunities in the face of the opposition, Virgil van Dijk rarely gives much.
But, by the middle of the second half, there was a glimpse of what this game must have meant for him.
With Liverpool winning a free kick 30 yards from goal, usual taker Trent Alexander-Arnold was left out as Van Dijk took control of the situation before, perhaps inevitably, exploding his effort straight into the wall .
The Dutchman, however, had already proven his point, a significant psychological hurdle cleared with a solid display in which he helped keep the threat from Salomon Rondon and Richarlison to a minimum.
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Certainly, the silly taunts from the home crowd that greeted every touch at the start had long since dissipated by the time he went through the final moments with Everton well beaten.
If there was a hint of disappointment at the failure to keep a fourth straight clean sheet, it was offset by good performances elsewhere on the back row.
Joel Matip, recalled in place of Ibrahima Konate at center-back, was determined while Andy Robertson continues to be a rested development after appearing in three goals.
And for Van Dijk, it was an unforgettable visit to Goodison for all the right reasons.
Message from Benitez loud and clear
There were still 25 minutes left until kick-off when Liverpool fans inside Goodison started singing the praises of Rafa Benitez.
By the end, the accents of ‘Rafa at the wheel’ could be heard in the cold night air, as sharp to the Blues boss as the sight of gaping holes in the stands, home fans voting with their feet long before. the final. whistle.
Of course, how long Benitez lasts at Everton isn’t really the concern of Reds fans who quickly turned to the salvation from Jurgen Klopp, who responded with a triple pump in his fist to the delight of the end. .
But it’s still unclear whether Benitez’s relationship with supporters at the club he brilliantly led to a Champions League triumph in 2005 was irrevocably damaged by his move to the other side of Stanley Park.
It was a historic night in many ways, the first time Liverpool have scored four goals at Goodison in 90 minutes since that memorable 5-0 victory in 1982.
This meant the Reds became the first top club to score at least twice in 18 successive games across all competitions, and also the first to score at least twice on the road in 14 straight games.
And with 43 league goals, no other team has scored more this season in Europe’s top five leagues. What a night.