Gylfi Sigurdsson’s precise low finish from the edge of the box proved in vain as Everton suffered a late defeat in the FA Cup third round at Anfield.
The Icelander had made the most of Phil Jagielka’s pull back to slot past goalkeeper Loris Karius and deservedly cancel out James Milner’s first-half penalty with 23 minutes still remaining.
The Blues then showed endeavour to go for the win but Virgil van Dijk met an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain corner with his head to net a debut winner for the hosts six minutes from time.
Everton boss Sam Allardyce had vowed to “go for it” when speaking in his pre-match press conference - and his team selection backed up that intent. It was a particularly attack-minded first 11, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin chosen to lead the line, supported by Wayne Rooney - scorer of the point-earning penalty at Anfield in the Premier League a month ago - Gylfi Sigurdsson and Yannick Bolasie.
James McCarthy made just his second start of the season in midfield and skipper Jagielka was reinstalled in central defence as Allardyce plumped for five changes in total.
A fantastic atmosphere greeted the two teams for this Friday night, under-the-lights cup tie, with over 8,000 Evertonians packed into both the upper and lower tiers of the Anfield Road Stand.
There were a couple of early full-blooded challenges too, including one from Rooney on Joe Gomez which earned the former England captain a seventh-minute booking.
It was a well-contested opening to the match. Emre Can and Sadio Mane fired wide with shots from outside the box, while Bolasie saw plenty of the ball in what had the makings to be an interesting tussle against Liverpool left-back Andrew Robertson. Twice in quick successions, the winger beat his man and whipped over dangerous crosses that had the hosts retreating. Calvert-Lewin, as the focal point, also gave as good as he got against Van Dijk.
For all the tie’s early energy, it took until the 25th minute for a genuine chance of note to be carved out. A right-winged centre found its way to Milner and the midfielder steered a side-footed shot a yard or so past the post. Still, Jordan Pickford, scampering across his line, had it covered.
After Mane was again off-target, Milner made no mistake with his next attempt, converted from the penalty spot 10 minutes before half-time when Mason Holgate was adjudged to have held and impeded Adam Lallana just inside the area.
Holgate was then caught up in a touchline incident with Roberto Firmino as the first half reached its conclusion with tempers running high.
The Toffees reappeared following the breaking news at half-time that Cenk Tosun had completed his transfer from Turkish outfit Besiktas.
Allardyce’s first change was replacing Rooney with Ademola Lookman six minutes into the second half, a substitution which saw Sigurdsson move into a more central position. Moments after the switch, if not for an unfortunate slip on the edge of the Liverpool box, the Icelander would have been in a prime position to test Karius.
As Everton went in search of a leveller, the game predictably became more open. Good opportunities for the home side to extend the lead fell to Lallana, Robertson and Van Dijk, the latter two forcing Pickford into necessary saves.
Calvert-Lewin twice threw his body at crosses, one from the left and another from the right, but couldn’t quite stretch far enough to make firm contact and guide the ball towards goal.
And the end-to-end nature of the second half was encapsulated by Sigurdsson’s breakaway equaliser on 67 minutes.
On the counter-attack, Bolasie smartly spread play out to Lookman on the left, who carried the ball forwards and picked out the unmarked Jagielka. The captain teed up Sigurdsson perfectly and the Icelander, first-time, buried the ball into the bottom corner.
The goal - and scenes of celebration in the away end that followed - gave Everton momentum. Lookman’s trickery, again on the left, earned a free-kick in a dangerous position 25 yards out but Sigurdsson was unable to pick out a man inside a packed penalty box.
And though the Blues continued to search for a way to catch their hosts out a second time, it was the debutant Van Dijk who met the ball eight-yards out to settle the tie late on.