Football

Horror EPL debut for van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk had an English Premier League debut to forget for Liverpool yesterday morning (Singapore time) as bottom club Swansea City capitalised on his error to sneak a 1-0 win at the Liberty Stadium.

The game's only goal came against the run of play in the 41st minute, when Alfie Mawson swept the ball in at a corner after van Dijk had misplaced a clearing header.

It summed up an awkward league debut for the 26-year-old Dutchman, who had previously played in only one FA Cup tie since his record £75 million (S$137.8m) move from Southampton last month.

Former Liverpool stalwart Jamie Carragher said it highlighted the fact that signing the world's best defender would not solve the Reds' defensive woes.

He told Sky Sports: "It's poor from Virgil van Dijk. In some ways, he shouldn't have gone for it.

"It's not really his header. Maybe he's trying to do too much in some ways...

"This thing about van Dijk is going to come in and fix this problem, it is absolute nonsense.

"That one player comes in and fixes the whole problem, he's not that good...

"The idea that van Dijk is going to head everything away is just a joke. It's not happening."

Southampton legend Matthew Le Tissier, meanwhile, couldn't resist a dig at former Saint van Dijk, who left the club in acrimonious circumstances.

He tweeted after Swansea's goal: "Decent assist from van Dijk there."

Explaining how the Swans had stopped high-flying Liverpool, new Swansea boss Carlos Carvalhal said: "I said to my players that Liverpool were a top team, they are really strong, but they are a Formula One car.

"If you put a Formula One car in London in traffic, the Formula One car will not run very fast.

"That is exactly what we had to do to play against Liverpool - stop them playing the way they like."

His opposite number Juergen Klopp admitted that the Welsh team had prevented his fourth-placed side from playing their normal game and slammed the Reds' first-half performance.

He said: "I am more frustrated about the performance than the result. We were just not good enough, especially in the first half.

"We didn't play how we wanted to play... They didn't need to play, they needed to fight, and we did exactly what they wanted and their confidence grew."

Football