On a night where Sadio Mane took all the spotlight for the Liverpool fans, there was a moment of redemption for their centre-back Virgil van Dijk who once again showed his class and avoided a mistake that would have proved lethal for his team.
Liverpool was in hostile territory at Villa Park where Steven Gerrard’s men were looking clinical in their attack and were adamant to put a dent in the title hopes of the Reds.
After trailing early in the third minute through Douglas Luiz’s goal, Liverpool responded swiftly and equalized within three minutes so that their manager, Jurgen Klopp, could have a sigh of relief.
But Aston Villa was robust, finding passes and troubling Liverpool’s defence at every go. One such moment transpired just after the beginning of the second half when Philippe Coutinho received the ball near the half-line and sent it through between the legs of Virgil van Dijk, who came forward to make the tackle.
Coutinho charged toward Liverpool’s goal, seeing Van Dijk out of position. This was a moment for all Van Dijk’s critics out there to rain on his parade and tear him apart, which is exactly what happened on Twitter.
But ardent Liverpool supporters instantly shut the critics down by telling them to look at the entire picture and not falsely implicate Van Dijk as a victim of Coutinho’s skill.
Van Dijk immediately retraced his steps and sprinted back towards Liverpool’s box, where he came face to face with Coutinho yet again. The Brazilian tried to dribble past Van Dijk but succumbed to the pressure of Van Dijk’s mammoth presence and slipped, losing the ball in the process to the big man, Van Dijk.
The Dutchman then walked out of the box with the ball at his feet, continued the Liverpool’s wave of attack, and had the last laugh while the ex-Liverpool man, Coutinho lost his footing and ended up on the losing side when Liverpool’s number 10, Mane scored a thunderous header to bring the Reds level on points with arch-rivals, Manchester City.
The dream of quadruple is getting a little complicated but surely hasn’t lost all steam. With Van Dijk at the heart of their defence, Liverpool march on to two finals this month – the FA Cup and the coveted Champions League.