Ferdinand slams ‘criminal’ Van Dijk error in Barcelona defeat

The one-time Red Devils centre-back has criticised the Dutchman for his role in the Uruguayan striker scoring

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has blamed Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk for Luis Suarez’s opening goal in their Champions League semi-final first leg against Barcelona.

Suarez got between Van Dijk and centre-back partner Joel Matip in the first half, latching onto Jordi Alba’s excellent cross to turn the ball past Alisson at the near post.

Barcelona went on to win 3-0 at Camp Nou, with Lionel Messi tapping home as Suarez hit the crossbar before rifling home a magnificent free-kick to notch his 600th goal for the club.

However, retired centre-back Ferdinand feels the recently-crowned PFA Player of the Year should have done more to prevent Barcelona from drawing first blood.

“Virgil van Dijk is at fault here,” Ferdinand said on BT Sport.

“He can see Suarez, he’s pointing where he wants it, it’s not rocket science. He’s right in from of him.

“That’s your man, the number nine on the back of his shirt. Static. Virgil van Dijk there, static. And that’s criminal in that position.

“He’s got to be Matip’s eyes and ears, move Matip where you want him to stop the ball in the first instance. But if not, you have to go with your man there. And he’ll be disappointed with that, I’m sure.”

Van Dijk has been widely praised for his role in shoring up Liverpool’s once-leaky defence, seeing them concede the fewest goals of any side in the Premier League this season – a miserly 20 in 36 games.

The Dutchman has also managed five goals and four assists from his 46 games in all competitions.

However, the 3-0 scoreline recorded in Catalonia was part of a rare defensive lapse from the Reds that has left their Champions League hopes hanging by a thread. Their failure to score an away goal means that, should Barcelona score at Anfield, Liverpool would be left needing to score five without reply.

As a result, the role of Van Dijk in keeping a clean sheet in the second leg has taken on even greater importance if Liverpool are to have any chance of progressing to the final.