The Everton VAR decision that ‘cost’ Liverpool the Premier League title to Man City

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Liverpool finished a point behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race but things could have been so different had one key call gone in Everton’s favor.

In the aftermath of Liverpool missing out on the Premier League title, mixed emotions are what most will be feeling.

From one point of view, there is a strong sense of pride. The Reds pushed a petrodollar-fuelled Manchester City outfit to the very final day of the season, only to be separated by the finest of margins – one point.

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Should the Champions League be claimed on Saturday, Jurgen Klopp’s men will have come as close to an unprecedented quadruple as possible. It’s been a truly unimaginable campaign.

But, on the flip side, supporters will be downbeat that the top-flight silverware was not yielded against Wolves at Anfield.

Many must have thought that Lady Luck was on Liverpool’s side when City were two goals behind against Aston Villa with just 20 minutes remaining at the Etihad Stadium.

Klopp’s troops were level with Wolves, although it only felt a matter of time before they found a breakthrough.

By the time the Reds did take the lead through Mo Salah, hope had already diminished.

Pep Guardiola’s side produced a miraculous comeback to go 3-2 ahead and, indeed, claim the top-flight crown for successive seasons.

Liverpool do a lap of honor of Anfield after finishing second in the 2021-22 Premier League season. Picture: John Powell / Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Just like in 2019, Liverpool had to settle with runners-up medals.

Just like in 2019, some supporters will be pinpointing the moments the Reds will rue.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda

It’s all coulda, woulda, shoulda, of course, but the 1-1 draw against 10-man Chelsea in August and 3-3 stalemate at newly-promoted Brentford the following month are missed opportunities that come to mind.

But perhaps the most crucial game that had an impact on the title race did not involve Liverpool – but their bitter rivals.

It’s not often Kopites and Evertonians concur. Especially when either side are in action.

Yet in the Toffees’ 1-0 loss to Man City at Goodison Park in February, both sets of supporters were left seething because of one decision.

Frank Lampard’s side were in a dogfight relegation and Liverpool were hoping, on a rare occasion, that their Merseyside foes would pick up a result.

The Reds sat three points behind City ahead of kick-off.

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In truth, not many gave Everton a chance of getting anything from the game, having accrued only four points from their previous eight games.

But a spirited performance from the Blues deserved at least a draw – and they were denied that chance.

Just moments after Phil Foden had given Guardiola’s men an 82nd-minute lead, the Toffees should have had the chance to equalize from the penalty spot.

The ball quite clearly struck City midfielder Rodri’s arm inside the box. On-field referee Paul Tierney did not award a penalty and despite a VAR review, video assistant referee Chris Kavanagh did not deem the incident worthy of a spot-kick.

Given Everton’s precarious position, Lampard was understandably incensed at the full-time whistle.

‘Incompetence at best’

The manager said: “We’ve lost a point because of a professional who can not do his job right.

“You start searching for whys and I can not think why. It is so incompetent to get it wrong.

Referee Paul Tierney leaves the pitch with the match ball after the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park on February 26, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Lewis Storey / Getty Images)

“Pep [Guardiola] will know, Everton fans will know, Man City fans will know, it was the clearest penalty you could give: arm is out – great, below the sleeve – great, I was waiting for the penalty.

“Incompetence at best, at worst who knows?

“I’ll wait for the statement or apology they do when things are wrong but it will mean nothing.”

Indeed, Professional Game Match Officials Limited boss, Mike Riley, personally phoned Lampard and chairman Bill Kenwright to apologize after a letter of complaint.

Not that saying sorry mattered much. The Blues sat one point and one place above the drop zone. Everyone at the club knew it could have proved costly had they gone down.

Luckily, for Everton, it did not prove decisive. They secured top-flight survival with a dramatic 3-2 defeat of Crystal Palace.

However, it has had a major impact on Liverpool come the end of the season.

Had the Toffees been given a penalty, scored and clinched a 1-1 draw, City would have finished with two fewer points.

That, then, would have seen Liverpool claim the title by a point rather than vice versa.

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