LIVERPOOL, England (AP) - With a leap reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo, Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored for the fifth straight Premier League game to earn Everton a 2-2 draw from a typically frenetic Merseyside derby against Liverpool on Saturday and cement his status as the hottest striker in English soccer.
Liverpool extended its decade-long unbeaten run in the derby but was denied a victory at an empty Goodison Park when Calvert-Lewin rose high to power a header into the bottom corner from Lucas Digne’s left-wing cross in the 81st minute.
The striker’s 10th goal in seven games for Everton in all competitions ensured the team will stay top of the league for another week, though the leaders dropped points for the first time this campaign in a match they ended with 10 men after Richarlison’s 90th-minute red card for fouling Thiago Alcantara.
There was still time for Jordan Henderson to turn the ball into the net, seemingly handing the champions a victory, but the goal in the second minute of stoppage time was ruled out for the narrowest of offside calls against Sadio Mané by the VAR.
“It’s frustrating but, in terms of the bigger picture, we got a point, we take it and we keep building,” said Calvert-Lewin, who also scored on his England debut last week. “We want to keep that unbeaten run going.”
Liverpool hasn’t lost to its neighbor since 2010, and that undefeated streak was extended to 23 games in all competitions. Still, Jurgen Klopp’s side was handed a real test from Everton, which justified its surprise position at the top of the league by twice coming from behind.
Mané gave Liverpool a third-minute lead, only for Michael Keane to equalize from a corner in the 20th - soon after the visitors had lost commanding center back Virgil van Dijk to a right knee injury.
Mohamed Salah looked like earning Liverpool the win by lashing home a low, first-time shot in the 72nd minute after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross from the right was only partially cleared. However, the champions couldn’t hold out after Salah’s sixth league goal of the season.
Liverpool was hampered by having to play without its best defender for most of the match. Van Dijk hobbled off after a reckless challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the seventh minute.
Pickford’s knee-high lunge at Van Dijk came seconds after the center back was adjudged to have been narrowly offside as a cross came over to him. It was seemingly only the fact an offside call had been made that meant Pickford avoided getting a card, with the VAR not checking for a red card.
The incident raised further questions about the temperament of Pickford, the England international who has been at fault for some goals conceded by Everton in recent games.
Van Dijk last missed minutes in the Premier League in January 2018, and his absence might have contributed to Liverpool conceding the equalizer in the 20th when Keane rose highest at a corner to power a header through the raised arms of goalkeeper Adrian.
Van Dijk might also have dealt better with the high, hanging ball from Digne that led to Calvert-Lewin’s equalizer.
“It doesn’t look good,” Klopp said of Van Dijk’s injury, “but of course we have to wait.”
With Thiago controlling play with his passing and touch in central midfield in the Spain international’s first Premier League start, Liverpool put in a more assured display than in its last Premier League outing - a scarcely believable 7-2 loss at Aston Villa two weeks ago.
“It’s probably the best game we’ve played at Goodison since I’ve been (Liverpool) manager,” Klopp said. “We were dominant against a formerly flying side.”
Liverpool has, however, conceded 13 goals after just five games of its title defense.
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