Liverpool FC striker Darwin Núñez was handed a rare start, and boy, did he deliver, winning the penalty that Mohamed Salah converted to give the Reds a 1-0 win at home against Fulham.
Speaking at his post-match presser, the manager Jürgen Klopp singled out Núñez for his energy and intensity from the front:
Absolutely. I think for us it’s super-important. You could see in the beginning, defending the centre against Fulham is really important because Palhinha is there and that is their connector, get [him] on the ball. We were a bit too early out there from Darwin, we tried to fix that, but he wanted and he was like a race horse - go, go, go, go for everybody. We opened up and that’s where we struggle slightly, where they could control it for moments. We could sort that and apart from that he played a really good game, he was always a proper option for us and we needed that. One of the main things we had to do tonight was offer in behind, we had three really quick players there and I liked the situation pretty early in the game when Mo received the ball deep, chipped it in behind and Darwin can go there. I don’t know exactly what was the result of that, but maybe a corner, which is good as well. Yes, he played a good game.
The boss also elaborated on his front three selection for the game, with Diogo Jota’s injury and recent playing time a big factor:
I thought they did well. We should not forget, you can see with Luis after 30 minutes it’s really tough for him. It’s tough for everybody, we played a lot of games. We had a discussion with the coaches, who shall we rest? Is it Cody? Diogo couldn’t train again and I think in the first situation when he was on the pitch tonight, again a knock on the back. I hope that’s now better because he had a proper, proper bruise at the ribs, so it’s really painful. Anybody who had that before knows that. So, shall he start? Cody? How do we do it? That was the outcome - this line-up. I thought [Luis] did for long spells really well. As I said, Darwin like a race horse, really motivated, really on fire. That’s important to us and all of them, when Cody and Diogo came on, they were really in the defensive work. They were extremely involved and we had then a few sensational situations where the last pass didn’t go through. Curtis to Mo and stuff like this, where everything is nearly perfect and then the last pass on the foot it is only an inch but in the end it’s maybe half a metre. There we could have done better, but that’s fine. I liked what I saw.
The Reds will be back in action on Saturday as they chase an unlikely Champions League spot. They’ll host Brentford at Anfield.