In their victory overto close out the World Cup break on a strong note, the Reds’ South American forwards combined to score all three goals. The Darwin Nunez bandwagon is gaining momentum at Anfield. The Uruguayan scored twice to overcome Southampton 3-1 and ensure that the Reds were sent off for the World Cup in fine fashion. The performance of Liverpool’s £64 million ($72 million) player has been improving for a while, and today it reached a new high.
Nunez has made nine starts for his new team and scored nine goals, which is by far his best performance since leaving Benfica in the summer. On another day, he would also have had two assists, assisting Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah in their penalty area saves from first-time, well-placed shoots. Firmino, who was left off of Brazil’s squad for this week’s trip to Qatar, scored with a wonderful glancing header off an Andy Robertson free-kick after only six minutes had passed. Che Adams quickly countered, though, with a header from a James Ward-Prowse cross.
Nunez, though, had Liverpool in control by halftime after volleying Harvey Elliott’s beautiful pass home and completing a fine move by slipping in to bury Robertson’s low cross. The second half saw Liverpool need Alisson Becker to make a series of outstanding stops to preserve their advantage and ensure Nunez scored the game-winning goal, but it ended up being the only goal scored.
The Performing Side:
Darwin Nunez: The 23-year-old, who is currently averaging more than six shots per game, took two of the three chances that came his way in this match, first volleying in with his left foot from Elliott’s sharp pick-out for 2-1 and then perfectly timing his arrival to slide home Robertson’s low cross for his second. But much more impressive were the indications that his all-around performance, which was heavily criticized in the early weeks of the season, is getting better.
Nunez didn’t only appear to be a goal scorer or a chaos-maker in this situation. He had the appearance of a £64 million football player. His exquisite backheel gave Firmino a chance, and his magnificent left-wing cross should have resulted in a goal for Salah. Three minutes before the scheduled time, they began to chant his name.
Andy Robertson: Here was a reminder in case you ever needed one. Andy Robertson is and will always be a model citizen. The left-back for the Reds secured himself another piece of history with two assists in the first half. In the Premier League era, only Leighton Baines has assisted on as many goals as a defender.
His first attempt at this was a set-piece, a free-kick that was blasted in from the right and expertly guided in with Firmino’s head. His second was a classic Robertson play; he was too quick for Southampton’s defense and was able to snag Firmino’s pass from behind before delivering the ideal fizzed low cross for Nunez to score.
Roberto Firmino: When Tite’s 26-man squad for Qatar was revealed this week, Firmino was heartbroken to be left out. However, if you were concerned that it may damage his performance here, you needn’t have been concerned. His early header, which was excellent in every way and was guided deftly into the far corner from 15 yards, gave Liverpool the lead.
He also played a significant role in the Reds’ third goal, slipping Robertson in down the left with a beautiful pass inside the full-back. Firmino has enjoyed a successful start to the year. Although it wasn’t enough to get him to Qatar, it might be enough to make Liverpool reevaluate keeping him on after the season when his contract is up.
The Losing Side:
Tite: Is it too late to make a squad change? To be fair, Brazil’s coach has plenty of options for aggressive play, but after seeing Firmino’s performance tonight, he must have questioned if he could have erred.
Alisson Becker’s performance, which included three great stops to maintain Liverpool’s lead at two in the second half, will, at the least, have encouraged Tite. He could be a little more worried about Fabinho, who was somewhat superior here.
Naby Keita: As a result, the fourth-biggest signing in Liverpool history remains unsigned as we approach the holiday break. Since Keita hasn’t played since coming on as a late substitute in the Community Shield in July, it’s fair to wonder if this is the last time we’ll see the Guinean international wear a red shirt.
Only 72 starts and a total of 117 appearances have occurred since then. It is challenging to justify extending Keita’s contract, which expires at the end of the current campaign. It’s a real shame because Liverpool’s midfield needs an upgrade, and he isn’t the one to give it to them.
The Defensive Side:
Alisson Becker: Adams beat him to the equalizer, but in the second half, he made a run of outstanding stops, the greatest of which came from the same player’s close-range header.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: Made several accurate passes to the frontmen and, for the most part, played solid one-on-one defense.
Joe Gomez: Gomez was quite effective while defending from the front foot. Ineffective while standing out.
Virgil van Dijk: Adams should go for the equalizer. was frequently in a position to make a clearance, and Southampton mostly avoided him in aerial duels. Finish with a few headers from the corners.
Andy Robertson: Outstanding. With two assists in the first half and constant vigor.
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