Late Darwin Nunez double earns 10-man Liverpool comeback win at Newcastle
Forgotten man Darwin Nunez came off the bench to fire 10-man Liverpool to a sensational 2-1 win at Newcastle as they staged a late, late show.
Trailing to former Everton striker Anthony Gordon’s opener and at a numerical disadvantage following Virgil van Dijk’s dismissal, the Reds refused to accept defeat and got their reward when the £85million Uruguay international levelled with nine minutes remaining and then snatched victory three minutes into stoppage time.
The Magpies were left to reflect on missed chances – Alisson produced a stunning first-half save to deny Miguel Almiron, who later hit a post – but Jurgen Klopp’s men scrapped impressively to ensure their unbeaten run against the Tyneside club extended to 14 games.
Klopp celebrated wildly in front of the home dugout and on the pitch after the final whistle as the home fans among a crowd of 52,214 trudged away barely able to believe what they had witnessed.
The visitors made a lively start amid a raucous atmosphere as former Magpies target Dominik Szoboszlai forced an early corner, and it was they who set the tempo as the game unfolded.
However, Trent Alexander-Arnold left himself walking a tightrope after picking up a needless sixth-minute booking for kicking the ball away, and he was perhaps fortunate to escape further punishment after Gordon went down under his challenge seconds later.
Newcastle keeper Nick Pope, who was sent off in the corresponding fixture last season, endured a testing start and he came for, but failed to connect meaningfully with two early corners, although as Bruno Guimaraes, Sandro Tonali and Almiron gradually worked their way into the game, the traffic towards his goal became less congested.
Joelinton mustered the first attempt on Alisson’s goal, a reward for Guimaraes’ persistence, although the keeper was more than equal to the task, but opposite number Pope was extended much further to repel Luis Diaz’s near-post strike after a mazy 17th-minute run.
Pope comfortably claimed Mo Salah’s curled 24th-minute effort after the striker had cut inside full-back Dan Burn, but Liverpool’s game-plan was torn apart seconds later.
Alexander-Arnold mis-controlled Salah’s pass, allowing Gordon to steal in and race away before sliding a shot past the advancing Alisson, and worse was to come for the Reds when skipper Van Dijk felled Alexander Isak on the edge of the box three minutes later and was dismissed.
Only Alisson’s brilliance prevented Newcastle from doubling their advantage nine minutes before the break when he somehow managed to claw Almiron’s stinging volley onto the underside of his crossbar.
With defender Joe Gomez having replaced the sacrificed Diaz before the break, the Reds returned knowing they needed something special to force their way back into the game, but Gordon continued to terrorise Alexander-Arnold, and it was the Magpies who looked more likely to add to their tally.
Almiron skied high over after Joelinton had surged into the penalty area before crossing, but with the 10 men largely sitting deep, Newcastle found themselves having to unpick the most steadfast of locks with midfield pair Guimaraes and Tonali the main protagonists.
Szoboszlai and substitute Diogo Jota helped to ease Liverpool back into the contest as the home side were forced to defend, and although Gordon blazed a 64th-minute drive just wide of Alisson’s left post, it took a superb intervention by Sven Botman to prevent Salah from making the most of a delicious exchange with Jota.
Almiron was unfortunate to see a 76th-minute shot come back off a post with Alisson beaten, and the Reds capitalised on that stroke of good fortune with nine minutes remaining when Nunez seized on Botman’s error to fire past Pope.
With Newcastle pushing for a winner, the Uruguay international repeated the dose deep into injury time, running on to Salah’s through-ball to snatch an unlikely victory with a similar finish.
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