Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk turned away in disgust. The Kop fell silent in disappointment. Everton fans likely breathed a sigh of relief at the other end of Anfield.
A tense and hard-fought Merseyside derby looked destined to finish in a goalless stalemate Sunday after Van Dijk skied a speculative, mishit shot high into the air — and seemingly out of play — in the sixth minute of injury time.
Then came the most dramatic ending imaginable.
The ball bounced on top of the crossbar not just once but twice, firstly off the fingertips of Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Time seemed to stand still as the ball dropped down to Liverpool striker Divock Origi to nod into the net from a meter out to secure a 1-0 win in extraordinary circumstances.
“For me, the situation was finished when the ball left (Van Dijk’s) foot,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said, scratching his head.
Klopp had reacted to the goal by running onto the field and punching the air, before jumping into the arms of Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
“I didn’t want to be disrespectful,” Klopp said, “but I couldn’t stop myself. It just happened.”
By losing in the cruelest of ways, Everton remained without a win at Anfield since 1999.
If Liverpool goes on to win the English league title for the first time since 1990, the team might just look back on those final, dramatic seconds against Everton as a pivotal moment in the season.
Second-placed Liverpool moved back to within two points of Manchester City after 14 games in the Premier League. City won the title last season by a record 19 points but it promises to be much closer a year on.
There were also wins for Arsenal and Chelsea on what proved to be a thrilling day of local derbies in the English top flight.
ARSENAL POWERS ON
Arsenal moved above Tottenham, on goal difference, into fourth place thanks to a 4-2 win over its fierce north London rival in a game that had it all: Penalties, a red card, clashes between players and fans lighting flares in the stands.
The victory extended Arsenal’s unbeaten run in all competitions to 19 matches, underscoring the excellent work done by manager Unai Emery in his first season at the club.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted a penalty in the 10th minute to put Arsenal ahead. Britain’s Press Association reported that a Tottenham supporter was arrested for throwing a banana skin onto the field after Aubameyang scored and celebrated in front of away fans.
Tottenham replied with two goals in four minutes — from Eric Dier and then Harry Kane from the spot — for a 2-1 halftime lead. Dier celebrated his equalizer by making a shush gesture in front of Arsenal fans and it prompted a scuffle between both sets of players, with substitutes also getting involved in the squabble.
Aubameyang equalized in the 56th, with a beautiful curling shot before substitute Alexandre Lacazette and Lucas Torreira sent the home fans into a frenzy with goals of their own in the 74th and 77th. Fans lit flares in the stands after the last two goals.
Tottenham had center back Jan Vertonghen sent off in the second half.
Arsenal achieved the win without playmaker Mesut Ozil, with the club citing “back spasms” as the reason for his latest non-appearance.
KANTE MAKES AMENDS
Days after being on the end of some rare criticism, N’Golo Kante showed just why he is such an important player for Chelsea.
The France midfielder set up the first goal in Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Fulham by breaking up play near halfway, driving forward at pace, and then laying the ball off for Pedro Rodriguez to score in the fourth minute.
It was typical scavenging work by Kante, who was called out publicly in midweek by his coach Maurizio Sarri for his poor performance in Chelsea’s 3-1 loss to Tottenham last weekend. Kante — arguably the world’s best defensive midfielder — is playing further forward for Chelsea this season to accommodate Jorginho, a deep-lying midfield playmaker signed in the offseason.
Substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored Chelsea’s second goal in the 82nd minute, with the win lifting Sarri’s team back to third place and seven points behind leader Manchester City.
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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80