Football

Pickford tackle on Van Dijk ‘completely stupid’ – Wijnaldum

Jordan Pickford's tackle on Virgil van Dijk went unpunished

The tackle by Everton keeper Jordan Pickford which left Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk needing knee surgery was “completely stupid”, says Reds midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.

Van Dijk suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the challenge – which went unpunished – and is set to miss at least most of this season.

Wijnaldum said “none of the players slept” after what happened on Saturday.

Manager Jurgen Klopp said his feelings were “similar to my players”.

Fabinho looped a cross to the far post which Van Dijk was about to try to control when Pickford came flying out feet-first and trapped the defender’s right leg in a scissor-like movement. Van Dijk was immediately in pain.

As the 29-year-old Netherlands centre-back was being treated, the video assistant referee (VAR) noted it was checking for a “possible penalty”. In the end, it could not have been a penalty because Van Dijk was offside. Referee Michael Oliver gave a free-kick to Everton, Van Dijk left the pitch and the game carried on.

Pickford did not face retrospective action because the Football Association determined the incident was seen at the time having consulted with the match officials, including VAR.

Late on in the game, which finished 2-2, Toffees forward Richarlison was sent off for a high tackle on Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara.

Wijnaldum, who is also a team-mate of Van Dijk for the Netherlands, said: “Of course we are upset. The way Pickford went in was completely stupid.

“I believe he did not want to injure Virgil the way he injured him.

“In my opinion, they take it too far in the games we play against them. Everyone wants to win the derby, sometimes you go a little over the top, but it was too much – not only his tackle, Richarlison on Thiago was also a nasty one.

“Accidents can happen in football. You can be unlucky and injure someone – but the way they were doing it was completely unacceptable.

“It makes it harder as they do not get punished, in this case Pickford.”