Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk gets 'assist' vs. Everton despite ball hitting crossbar TWICE
All involved with Liverpool FC were rightly thrown into delirium following Divok Origi's 96th-minute winner in Sunday's Merseyside derby at Everton -- just witness Jurgen Klopp's wild on-pitch celebrations with goalkeeper Alisson.
But for Virgil van Dijk, there was an extra reason to celebrate beyond his team securing a late victory that keeps his team in the title race.
The centre-back's wild shank of a volley from the edge of the box -- which looped high into air, evaded goalkeeper Jordan Pickford's grasp by bouncing TWICE on the top of the crossbar before dropping in front of Origi for a tap-in -- has been officially registered as an assist by the Premier League's official fantasy game.
It is Van Dijk's first assist in the competition since joining Southampton from Scottish club Celtic in 2015, and the Netherlands international was self-aware enough to acknowledge the farcical nature of it on Twitter.
It may seem ridiculous, but the rules of the Premier League's official fantasy game are clear. On assists in general, the rules state: "Assists are awarded to the player from the goal scoring team, who makes the final pass before a goal is scored. An assist is awarded whether the pass was intentional (that it actually creates the chance) or unintentional (that the player had to dribble the ball or an inadvertent touch or shot created the chance)."
Specifically addressing rebounds, the rules add: "If a shot on goal is blocked by an opposition player, is saved by a goalkeeper or hits the woodwork, and a goal is scored from the rebound, then an assist is awarded."
Van Dijk's assist joins a long line of unlikely or forgotten ways in which Premier League goals have been laid on for teammates.
Just a few months before making his then-world record move to Real Madrid in 2013, Gareth Bale scored a stunning long-range in stoppage time to seal a 3-2 win for Tottenham at West Ham. But Tom Carroll's neat three-yard putt to Bale to tee up the 30-yard strike is remembered almost as fondly by Spurs fans, who regularly recall it on social media with a healthy smattering of fire emojis.
Everyone remembers Darren Bent's infamous "beach ball" goal for Sunderland against Liverpool in 2009. While it could be argued Bent should have only got an assist for that goal, as the stray inflatable got the telling final touch to divert the ball past Pepe Reina, the record books credit Andy Reid as the creator for his pass across the box to his teammate.
Who remembers this iconic Premier League goal?— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) October 17, 2018
On this date in 2009: A beach ball scored against Liverpool via a Darren Bent assist. 😂 pic.twitter.com/JdSkCjrqjq
And one of the most iconic pieces of individual skill and technique in the Premier League's history -- David Beckham's goal from the halfway line against Wimbledon in 1996 -- would not have occurred had Brian McClair's half-hearted prod at a loose ball with an outstretched toe not sent it rolling so invitingly to the future England captain.
Van Dijk may be a newcomer to the Premier League assists club, but he has certainly made a big entrance.