LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Liverpool record signing Virgil van Dijk’s winning goal in the 2-1 FA Cup third round win over city rivals Everton was like a ‘fairytale’, according to manager Juergen Klopp.
Playing in his first game following his move from Southampton last week, Dutch defender Van Dijk headed in an 84th minute corner to secure victory in the Merseyside derby.
“Nice one! A fairy tale in a world with not a lot of fairy tales anymore, so I think something like that is quite special,” said a beaming Klopp.
The German manager had said he would not rush the £75 million ($101.76 million) new recruit into the team but changed his mind earlier on Friday.
“It was a difficult decision to make to be honest because, to be 100 per cent honest, the first plan was not to start him tonight but then Dejan (Lovren) and Raggy (Ragnar Klaven) played a lot of games in the last few weeks, so I changed my mind this morning. And it helped,” he said.
Van Dijk impressed in his defensive work before grabbing the winner and Klopp said he was pleased with everything he saw from the Dutch international.
“He showed a lot of things we want him to show in the future very often tonight; heading of course, football-wise his first touch was good, good under pressure and then around set pieces a proper threat.”
Not surprisingly Van Dijk was delighted with his debut.
“I don’t think it can get any better. It was a fantastic night,” said the 26-year-old.
”To score the winner in a derby on my debut is something every little boy dreams of. I just did it.
“I‘m very happy that we got through to the next round. We have a good chance to win this. I‘m very happy to have my debut, to score and to win. It’s just fantastic.”
Liverpool had tried to sign Van Dijk before the start of the season only for Southampton to block the move until the January transfer window.
“Everyone has welcomed me very well. I just want to improve and work hard for the team, the club and the fans every day,” he said.
“There is still plenty of room for improvement. It’s just the start”.
($1 = 0.7370 pounds)
Editing by Greg Stutchbury