Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp blasted Everton defender Mason Holgate for his push on Roberto Firmino as the Reds came out on top 2-1.
Virgil van Dijk enjoyed a dream debut for Liverpool by heading the winner in front of the Kop in the 230th Merseyside derby as they knocked Everton out of the FA Cup.
On a feisty night under the Anfield lights, the world’s most expensive defender proved he can be effective at both ends of the pitch by nodding in an 84th-minute corner to make it 2-1.
The Holland international becomes the first player to score a winner at Anfield in an FA Cup tie against Everton, at the fifth time of asking.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 67th-minute goal had earlier cancelled out James Milner’s first-half penalty in a blood-and-thunder contest which threatened to be tainted by a first-half flare-up between Mason Holgate, who conceded the spot-kick, and Roberto Firmino.
“It was for sure not the best piece of football for 95 minutes but a proper fight,” Klopp told BBC Sport.
“I’m delighted with the attitude we showed again, it was a difficult game. It was not the night for brilliant football, to play through. You would love to see that but Everton defended well. They played football, a big difference to the last game between us to be honest.
“The equaliser was the worst protection I ever saw in my life. It made no sense at all. We were all in the wrong direction. But when you make mistakes in football you have to react and we did again. It was nice that Virgil van Dijk could score in his first game, a brilliant header. I am really happy.
“In front of the Kop, makes it even better. In Germany we say cup games have different laws and it was like that – there was an extra push form both sides.
“It was a similar situation [to the penalty against Liverpool for Everton last month], the first one was no penalty in my opinion and this one wasn’t also. It’s the same. There is contact and the referee used his whistle. Exactly the same situation.
“It was not necessary for Mason Holgate to give Firmino that push, it was really dangerous and usually players don’t do that. We cannot change that.”