Liverpool 1-1 Crystal Palace: Nunez red card costly in Anfield stalemate

Liverpool 1-1 Crystal Palace: Nunez red card costly in Anfield stalemate
Klopp 'proud' after draw despite Nunez sending off

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp left his expensive summer signing Darwin Nunez to sleep on the moment of wild indiscipline that saw him make an early and undignified exit from his home debut in the Premier League.

Nunez, signed from Benfica in a deal worth an initial £64m, will have a restless night before facing Klopp after making the worst possible introduction at Anfield.

The Uruguayan has made a fine early impression with goals in the Community Shield win against Manchester City and the opening league draw at Fulham, but this incident which saw him sent off demonstrated a side of his character that will alert the more mischievous Premier League defenders and ensure Klopp must deliver some home truths ahead of his forthcoming three-match ban.

If there is one thing Nunez can take from his embarrassment, it is that it is better to learn your lessons early in the Premier League, and the 23-year-old certainly suffered a harsh one here.

Yes, there was what may be politely termed 'argy-bargy' with Palace defender Joachim Andersen, but Nunez's response was mindless - a headbutt that sent his opponent to the floor and referee Paul Tierney reaching for his red card.

It rules Nunez out of Liverpool's trip to Manchester United next Monday for starters, even more costly as Klopp needs all hands on deck as he juggles injury problems. He will also miss home games against Bournemouth and Newcastle United.

Nunez had worked tirelessly but gave the impression of someone trying just a little to hard to make the big impression, volleying one good chance over at the far post then bundling another opportunity against an upright in the closing seconds of the first half.

There is no doubt that graphic illustration of a short fuse will see Nunez's temperament tested now, but this chastening evening will surely form the basis of a vital learning experience.

_126332240_gettyimages-1415055744.jpgDarwin Nunez became only the second Liverpool player to be sent off in his first Premier League appearance at Anfield after Joe Cole in 2010

Nunez has huge shoes to fill following the departure of Sadio Mane but Klopp is aware of the pressures and is more likely to adopt the arm around the shoulder rather than the big stick when it comes to handling his new striker, who looked shattered as he made his way to the dressing room.

Klopp, rightly, made no attempt to mount a defence or give an excuse for Nunez. It was an open and shut case.

Liverpool deserved the point Luis Diaz's brilliant equaliser gave them, a show of resilience with a numerical disadvantage, but Palace will also feel they earned theirs.

There was a sense of anticlimax at the final whistle at Anfield, with anxious Liverpool supporters already flagging up Manchester City's four-point advantage after only two games as they made their way out.

Of course, it is nonsensically premature to talk about this in the long-term context after only two games of the Premier League season, but so high has the bar been set by City and so imperious have they looked after the addition of Erling Haaland that such concern is almost understandable.

City have put their rivals under pressure from the start to such an extent that they know they cannot afford too many slip-ups from day one - and Liverpool have had two in two games.

It is, however, early days and Klopp will be hoping the list of injuries to key figures reduces so that Liverpool can hit their familiar, irresistible stride.

And Liverpool can take some heart from the outstanding display from 19-year-old Harvey Elliott, mature beyond his years, prompting, probing, always demanding the ball and fully deserving of the standing ovation he received when he was substituted.

Diaz was the goalscorer and much more. He led from the front after Nunez's dismissal, scoring a brilliant equaliser four minutes later, making a slalom run past Palace defenders from the left flank before firing home a 20-yard finish.

Liverpool were far from their best and it has been an undistinguished opening two games.

They will hope the sight of the Manchester United side they thrashed on two occasions will provide inspiration at Old Trafford next Monday - even without Nunez.


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