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20th Dec, 2016 | 10:46am

Forget Sadio Mane: This Liverpool fringe man was the best player on pitch against Everton

COMMENT By Emma Sanders

Sadio Mane will earn all the praise for scoring the winning goal in his first Merseyside derby, but it was Ragnar Klavan who was the star man for Liverpool.

Indeed, the summer signing from Augsburg was the best player on the pitch.

The 31-year-old produced an excellent performance at centre-back to ensure the Reds kept a clean sheet and recorded a crucial 1-0 victory against Everton.

Klavan has faced criticism since joining from Augsburg for £4 million in the summer but the centre-back has started the last three games and played well.

He was poor in the EFL Cup quarter-final victory against Leeds last month and fans were concerned when he lined up alongside Dejan Lovren for the clash against West Ham.

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Joel Matip has been the star of Liverpool’s defence and his absence was worrying but Klavan stepped up to the plate and produced a composed performance.

Alongside Lovren, Klaven was terrific at centre-back on Monday evening too and the duo did not give Romelu Lukaku any space to run at the defence.

The Belgian striker, Everton’s star man, was invisible for long periods of the game and that was largely down to Klavan, who defended with aggression and focus in order to keep him out of the game.

Everton had just one shot on target in the game, despite dominating for the first half an hour and Klavan was at the centre of some strong defending from Liverpool.

Mane issued the blow, with a goal in stoppage time, but Klavan was consistently superb throughout the 90 minutes and was Liverpool’s man of the match.

In other Liverpool news, these were the worst three moments for the Reds in 2016.