Liverpool’s £85million striker scored a fine goal and could so easily have added two more with a couple of spectacular strikes in his side’s 1-0 win over West Ham.
Darwin Nunez offered a first true glimpse of why Liverpool made him their record signing, on a night when the Reds showed they finally mean business in the Premier League.
The £85m striker was the class act as he scored a fine winner and could so easily have added two more with a couple of spectacular strikes. Yet it was the resilience of Jurgen Klopp’s side which will please him most.
They somehow gritted out a difficult contest against tough opponents in West Ham, and survived two huge scares to record a victory equally massive as their show of fierce, defiant quality against Manchester City at the weekend.
This was different, yet somehow more important. It’s fair to say Klopp’s team have endured a difficult campaign this season because they’ve been unable to close out tight contests in their usual, relentless style.
They needed luck to do so, not least when keeper Alisson showed his excellence once more with two huge saves – the first on the stroke of half time to deny Jarrad Bowen’s spot kick attempt, and then at the end, when he miraculously saved Tomas Soucek’s shot from point blank range.
That shouldn’t detract from Nunez’s display though. The striker has struggled for consistency this season, because injury, suspension and the rigours of English football have meant he hasn’t started regularly.
This was in fact, his fifth goal on his fifth start, which is quite the record, and he delivered here on what Liverpool were clearly after, when they signed him in the summer…a different option, with pace, movement and crucially, power in the air.
It was a cracker though, the powerful centre forward showing poise and power to sneak between the two West Ham centre halves, and get above Thilo Kehrer to smash a header down into the turf and over Lukasz Fabianski into the roof of the net.
There were so many chances for the Reds to add a second, but when it didn’t arrive, that brought nerves and eventually, on the stroke of half time, a golden opportunity for David Moyes’ side to level with their first attempt on target, and their first real attack of the game.
Joe Gomez’s challenge was unwise as he clattered into the back of Bowen, with VAR eventually persuading ref Stuart Attwell to award the spot kick, but Alisson plunged to his right to save the penalty.
That gave West Ham hope, and they used the wind in the second half to put Liverpool under real pressure…though the Reds still had plenty of chances, with sub Curtis Jones denied twice, and Salah also close.
Yet the visitors should have levelled as they pressed at the end, and Moyes must wonder what he has done to deserve the bad luck his team is currently enduring.
Soucek thought he had scored even after James Milner part blocked his attempt, but Alisson impossibly deflected it wide, to suggest that, while Liverpool’s dream is still a faint hope, it is not quite an impossible one.