After his cameo against Fulham, including a neat goal, Liverpool forward Darwin Nunez was handed out his first start for the new club against Crystal Palace. He was thoroughly impressive, his energy and intensity relentless, his movements sharp and clever, but a hot-headed moment ended his night prematurely and probably cost his team a couple of points as the Palace game ended in a draw.
At the 57th minute of the game, with Liverpool trailing 1-0 after a Wilfried Zaha goal, Andersen pushed him in the back, arguing about something. Nunez just turned around and barged his head onto his face, not once but twice, dusting up memories of the other legendary Uruguayan forward in the red shirt, Luis Suarez. Perhaps, Nunez was dismayed at himself for spilling three gilt-edged chances, perhaps he had enough of Andersen’s needling, but his medium of venting out his came for heavy criticism.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville crooned: “Tonight the story is Nunez. Not just the second head-butt but the first one, then to have a go again. You usually get a coming together and there’s a little one, but he’s properly gone for it. “There’s no history of that at Benfica (his former club), he’s not been sent off there. That’s the stupidity of tonight. He’s a young player and it’s a steep learning curve for him tonight.”
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher said he “couldn’t believe” how the forward claimed innocence after the head-butt. “I couldn’t believe when he throws his arms up, he’s obviously remonstrating to the referee. I cannot believe how he thinks he’s going to get away with that when he’s remonstrating at the referee, there was no other option but you could not have had a better view. As he’s walking back to the bench, he knows what he’s done, he’ll be sitting in the dressing room absolutely gutted – and rightly so. He’s let himself down and his team down, the points dropped. If he’s on the pitch I’m sure Liverpool would’ve (gone) on to win,” he said.
Núñez is, incidentally, the first Liverpool player to be sent off for violent conduct during Klopp’s seven-year tenure at Anfield. “There was provocation but it was definitely the wrong reaction,” the Liverpool manager admitted. “He will learn from that. Unfortunately he now has three games to do that. It is not cool for us but it is how it is,” he said.
“Of course I will speak with him. I came in [after the game] and wanted to see the situation on television]. In the game I could not see anything so I could know what happened. I saw Andersen on the floor and Darwin walking away. That was my picture. Then I saw it – yes it is a red card. Wrong reaction in the situation. Andersen wanted that, he got it but he (Núñez) made a mistake. Of course I will talk about it with Darwin but not yet,” he added.
Captain James Milner too pledged support: “We’ll rally round him and I’m sure he’ll learn from it.” However, down to 10 men, they did now wither and four minutes later, Luis Diaz struck a splendid equaliser. “But it was the best possible reaction, a wonderful goal, and from that moment it was a special game. That was us at home with a special atmosphere, unfortunately without a goal. It is not common with 10 against 11 that you put a team under as much pressure as we did,” Klopp said.
The result sees the Reds sitting in 12th position on the table, one point behind newly promoted Bournemouth