The Liverpool talisman’s celebration did not go unnoticed after he bagged the Reds’ first goal in their impressive Merseyside derby victory at Anfield on Monday night.
In front of the Kop, it was one of THOSE celebrations from Mohamed Salah, one of those moody, stern-faced numbers that suggests he has just proven a point.
He had. He had proven the old class-is-permanent adage, proven he remains a game-changer. Within this match, Salah’s goal, nine minutes before the end of another otherwise unremarkable first half, transformed his performance.
Vintage, confident, ever-dangerous Salah suddenly returned and Jurgen Klopp will now hope the return is permanent.
And there is every chance it could be, because while this was not peak Liverpool, it was a display that had some of the hallmarks of a Klopp team at its dynamic best.
From Everton, it was a performance that will remind Sean Dyche of the task ahead of him and remind their suffering supporters how precious little attacking menace this team has from open play.
From an early stage – ie: from when Dyche took the reins – it was obvious Everton, in an attacking sense, were going to be heavily reliant on set-piece threat.
How ironic, then, that Liverpool’s breakthrough came from James Tarkowski heading an Alex Iwobi corner-kick against a post.
After a short spell of pinball, Nunez took a return pass from Salah, dashed 40 or 50 yards and played the perfect ball to the Egyptian who – thanks to some bizarre goalkeeping from Pickford – was left with a 12-yard tap-in.
There are moments when Pickford takes leave of his positional senses – and this was, most definitely, one of them – but take nothing away from the ruthlessness of the counter-attack and from the work of Nunez.
It will be intriguing to see the evolution of Darwin under Jurgen Klopp because you suspect the Uruguayan is the sort of explosively talented player that also needs a lot of coaching.
Klopp will surely now give Nunez an extended run in the starting eleven, particularly as this win should provide a hefty boost in confidence.
The victory was pretty much assured early in the second half when another Liverpool break – started by Andy Robertson – exposed the lack of pace in this Everton side.
Trent Alexander-Arnold took up the baton and his assist to the far post gave Cody Gakpo no option but to open his Liverpool scoring account.
With Everton giving Liverpool’s defence nothing to think about – the selection of Ellis Simms as the lone striker was odd – the Gakpo tap-in essentially wrapped up the three points and a first Premier League win if 2023 for Liverpool.
It would have been fitting if the outstanding Nunez had collected the goal he deserved but Pickford denied him and he also curled one familiarly wide.
But at least he had the consolation of a hug that was enthusiastic even by Klopp’s standards and a standing ovation from the Anfield crowd when he was replaced 20 minutes before the end.
Part of that ovation was for his replacement, Diogo Jota returning from injury for his first game since October.
With Roberto Firmino also reappearing and Virgil van Dijk watching from the subs bench – and also getting involved in some late handbags – the mood in Liverpool ranks has been instantly changed for the better.
And, not for the first time, Mo Salah more than played his part in that.