Liverpool continued their stranglehold over local rivals Everton to go top of the Premier League on Saturday but had fortune on their side as Mohamed Salah’s double secured a 2-0 win at Anfield.
Everton were left furious at the inconsistency of referee Craig Pawson as Ashley Young was sent off seven minutes before half-time for two bookable offences, while Ibrahima Konate escaped a second booking in the second half with the scores still level.
Liverpool toiled to make their man advantage count but finally achieved the breakthrough 15 minutes from time when Salah smashed home from the penalty spot after Michael Keane handled.
Salah was then teed up by Darwin Nunez to make the points safe seven minutes into stoppage time.
Victory takes Jurgen Klopp’s men above Tottenham and Arsenal at the top of the table on goal difference.
The Reds have lost just one of their last 29 Merseyside derbies and remain unbeaten at Anfield in front of a crowd against Everton since 1999.
No fixture has had more red cards in the Premier League era that clashes between these two and another sending-off proved decisive.
Everton had frustrated the hosts and posed a threat themselves until the 38-year-old Young showed his age rather than his experience by diving in to chop down Luis Diaz and earn a second yellow card.
Young had previously made a brilliant last-ditch challenge to deny Diaz a certain goal.
At the other end, Dominic Calvert-Lewin powered an early header too close to Alisson Becker.
Klopp had expressed his frustration at being selected for the Saturday lunchtime kick-off just hours after some of his stars returned after playing for their countries in South American World Cup qualifying.
Colombia’s Diaz and Argentina’s Alexis Mac Allister started, while Nunez was introduced off the bench after his starring role in Uruguay’s 2-0 win over Brazil in midweek.
Liverpool looked jaded despite having the extra man in the second half.
Everton boss Sean Dyche introduced Keane at half-time to revert to a back five and the visitors restricted Liverpool to few clear chances to the frustration of the home support.
The Toffees were then stunned that Konate was not also given his marching orders as he pulled down Beto after being shown a yellow card.
To rub salt in Everton’s wounds, Klopp immediately replaced the Frenchman with Joel Matip and Dyche saw a yellow card for taking his protests too far.
Liverpool have had their own troubles with officials of late after Diaz had a goal in their only defeat of the season at Tottenham last month wrongly ruled out following VAR confusion.
However, this time VAR came to their rescue as Diaz’s cross struck Keane’s outstretched arm.
After a pitch-side review, the referee pointed to the spot and Salah scored his seventh goal of the season to muted celebrations.
The Egyptian posted an emotional video on his social media channels on Wednesday calling for an end to “massacres” in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
As Everton pushed forward in search of an equaliser, they were caught on the counter-attack deep into stoppage time as Nunez timed his pass to Salah perfectly for a simple finish.