Darwin's red mist stalls Liverpool's evolution

China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-17 09:42
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp embraces winger Fabio Carvalho after Monday night's English Premier League match against Crystal Palace at Anfield. The game finished 1-1 after the Reds had Darwin Nunez sent off. REUTERS

Slow start continues after new signing Nunez sent off for headbutt

LIVERPOOL, England-Two glaring misses then a red card for a reckless headbutt.

It was a home debut to forget for Liverpool's big offseason signing, Darwin Nunez.

Fortunately for the Reds, another South American came to the rescue at Anfield as a dazzling individual goal by Luis Diaz salvaged a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Monday.

In his first competitive start for Liverpool, Nunez lost control after jostling with Joachim Andersen off the ball and thrust his head into the face of the Palace defender, with referee Paul Tierney watching on close by in the 57th minute.

The red card was immediately brandished and Nunez had to be calmed down by his teammates as he attempted to confront Tierney. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp blanked Nunez as the Uruguay striker headed down the tunnel.

"He knows that now himself," said Klopp when asked if Nunez had let his teammates down. "Of course it was a red card. He was provoked but that is not how he should behave."

Nunez, an offseason signing from Benfica, earned his first start after a couple of impressive, scoring displays off the bench in the Community Shield against Manchester City and then against Fulham, and also because Roberto Firmino was missing through injury.

He missed a very presentable early chance against Palace by miscuing a close-range volley at the back post, and then hit the post from a similar range in the final minute of the first half.

Maybe some frustration had set in by the time he was red-carded. As they jostled at the edge of Palace's penalty area, Nunez threw his head back at Andersen and missed. Then, when confronted moments later by the aggrieved defender, Nunez turned into Andersen and butted him square in the face.

Already trailing because of Wilfried Zaha's 32nd-minute goal, Liverpool was really up against it. But even down to 10 men, Klopp's team still dominated possession and Diaz earned his team a point by cutting in from the left, slipping between two defenders, and curling a shot into the far corner in front of the Kop. The Colombia international's goal came four minutes after the red card.

"Sometimes you need a moment of brilliance," Liverpool midfielder James Milner said, "and when you have players like Luis on the pitch, he can create something out of nothing. It was an incredible goal."

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