Super sub Nunez strikes twice as Liverpool stun Newcastle
August 28, 2023 11:16 AM
Darwin Nunez came off the bench to score twice in the final 10 minutes as 10-man Liverpool came from a goal down to stun Newcastle 2-1 at St. James' Park on Sunday.
Anthony Gordon had pounced on a Trent Alexander-Arnold mistake to put the Magpies in front before Virgil van Dijk was sent off for bringing down Alexander Isak inside half an hour.
But Newcastle failed to make the man advantage count and were punished when Nunez produced two moments of rare quality so far in his Liverpool career to turn the game on its head.
"With 10 men in my history, 1,000 games (as a manager), I have never had something like that. At Newcastle, in this stadium with that atmosphere, it is crazy," said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool spent a club-record £85 million ($107 million) on Nunez just over a year ago, but the Uruguayan has found himself behind Diogo Jota and Cody Gakpo in the battle to be Klopp's preferred number nine early in the season.
Nunez was unleashed from the bench 13 minutes from time and made the most of his opportunity as he was twice released behind the Newcastle defence and kept his nerve to fire low and hard beyond Nick Pope.
"We calmed the game down and brought on Darwin. He was obviously fired up from not starting," added Klopp.
"It's clear he's not happy but it's early in the season, we need to find stability and results.
"We need to find a way of playing. This is a new team with new key players. It needs time. He scores two goals and can't get the smile off his face."
Victory keeps Liverpool two points behind leaders Manchester City and lays down an early-season marker after Newcastle usurped the Reds to secure Champions League football last season.
"We should have put the game to bed and that's the thing we are kicking ourselves about," said Newcastle boss Eddie Howe.
- Alexander-Arnold escapes early red -
Liverpool were lucky not to be a man down after just six minutes.
Alexander-Arnold had already been booked for throwing the ball away when he pulled down Gordon as the Newcastle man tore down the left wing.
But to the astonishment of the home crowd and Newcastle bench, referee John Brooks did not produce a second yellow card.
Joe Gomez was sent out by Klopp to warm up with one eye on replacing Alexander-Arnold to keep him out of further trouble.
The Liverpool boss might have wished he had made that change as Alexander-Arnold's failure to control Mohamed Salah's pass allowed Gordon to run clear on goal and score just his second Newcastle goal since a £45 million move from Everton in January.
Things went from bad to worse for the Reds when Brooks did produce a red card, Van Dijk's first of his Liverpool career, on 28 minutes.
The Liverpool captain was deemed to have denied a clear goalscoring opportunity when he kicked through Isak on the edge of the area.
Only some brilliance from Alisson Becker kept Liverpool in the game before half-time as the Brazilian turned Miguel Almiron's fiercely struck volley onto the crossbar.
Almiron came even closer after the break as some mesmeric wing play scythed through the Liverpool defence, only for his shot to come back off the post.
But Newcastle were made to pay for not adding to their lead in an incredible finale.
Sven Botman failed to deal with Jota's ball forward and Nunez drilled a shot into the far corner nine minutes from time.
Salah had been kept largely quiet in the week he was linked with joining the stars leaving European football for Saudi Arabia.
But the Egyptian produced three minutes into stoppage time when his pass put Nunez in the clear once more to deliver the most telling goal of his Liverpool career to date.