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17th Oct 2020

Jordan Pickford avoided red card because VAR check ‘only looked at offside’

Pickford somehow escaped punishment

Most of those watching the dramatic early stages of the Merseyside Derby on Saturday afternoon will be wondering how, exactly, Jordan Pickford stayed on the field.

10 minutes in, with Everton already trailing to Sadio Mane’s third-minute opener at Goodison Park, Pickford clattered into Virgil van Dijk after a ball was lofted into the Dutch defender in the home side’s penalty.

Having taken none of the ball, the England goalkeeper would have almost certainly conceded a penalty had Van Dijk not been ruled marginally offside as the ball was played to him.

The Dutchman left the field through injury soon after, but after a VAR check, Pickford avoided any punishment.

Many watching wondered how the goalkeeper had not been shown a card for the challenge after the incident had been reviewed.

A tweet from ESPN’s Dale Johnson soon brought clarity, explaining that the VAR check had only focused on the offside, not whether Pickford’s challenge had been worthy of a sending off.

Surely, as the tweet explains, if the VAR check had focused on Pickford, Everton would have been down to ten.

With Pickford remaining on the field, Everton weathered the early storm and drew level through Michael Keane’s header on 20 minutes.

Though they fell behind to a well-struck effort from Mo Salah, Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored a second Everton equaliser with his head late on.

Everton did have Richarlison sent off after another poor challenge late on, before before Pickford appeared to have let a late, late Liverpool winner slip beneath him. Thankfully for him,  Mane was ruled offside by a fraction in the buildup.