Virgil Van Dijk punctuates Liverpool debut with late winner against Everton

Virgil Van Dijk celebrates his goal for Liverpool against Everton in the third round of the FA Cup on Friday. (Getty)

Virgil van Dijk, just four days after joining Liverpool as the world’s most expensive defender ever, beat Merseyside rival Everton with an 84th-minute header to send his new club through to the FA Cup fourth round.

The former Celtic and Southampton center back attacked Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s corner and didn’t exactly make clean contact, but nodded the ball past an onrushing Jordan Pickford:

Van Dijk – who cost Liverpool £75 million, over £20 million than any other defender in football history – could not have picked a better way to open his account at his new club.

Many have labeled the 26-year-old Dutchman overrated, and his transfer from Southampton overpriced. He is expected to solve Liverpool’s defensive issues, which run deep. Naturally, he didn’t singlehandedly do that on Friday in his first match.

Liverpool went ahead from the penalty spot in the first half, but was caught on the break in the second. Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson equalized with a sweet finish into the bottom corner of the Liverpool net:

But Liverpool deserved to go through. It should have added to its lead before Everton made it vanish. In the end, Van Dijk spared the Reds a replay at Goodison Park.

The debut goal – and not only a debut goal, but a late winner against a local rival – will do wonders to relieve the instant pressure on van Dijk. It will buy him some time if he isn’t immediately the savior that Liverpool think it has bought.

Chances are he will make a mistake or two over the coming months. But with a resoundingly positive first impression emphatically made, mistakes are more likely to be forgiven. His Liverpool career is off on the right foot.