Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk said the English champions-elect are just happy to be back on the field again despite seeing their title party delayed by a 0-0 draw at Everton on Sunday.
The Reds extended their advantage at the top of the table to 22 points, but will need Manchester City to slip up against Burnley on Monday to have any chance of sealing the title when they host Crystal Palace at Anfield on Wednesday.
“I think everyone is just happy to be back, win or lose, and it is another step closer to our goal,” said Van Dijk, after Liverpool’s first game in 106 days due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The match was played behind closed doors and the unusual surroundings began before kick-off when Liverpool had to get changed in a Portakabin in the Goodison Park car park to keep players and staff socially distanced.
“Everyone didn’t know really what to expect. It was just good to be back out there. It is a fantastic game to be the first game.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp bemoaned his side’s inability to turn domination of possession into chances.
Indeed, it was Everton who had the best opportunity to secure a first derby win in 10 years when Tom Davies hit the post after Alisson Becker saved from Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
“Both teams showed it was a derby, even without a crowd,” said Klopp.
“We didn’t have enough chances for the possession we had.
“Most of the time we were dominant but then they had the biggest chance out of the blue, we were lucky in that moment.”
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti was glad his gameplan nearly worked to perfection.
“I think considering the fact there was a long break, there was no crowd, the intensity of the game was really high,” said the Italian, who also was unbeaten in two clashes against Liverpool with Napoli earlier in the season.
“It was not an open game because we didn’t want an open game against them. We didn’t give a lot of chances to them. It was a fair result.”