Nunez shines against Southampton as Reds climb Premier League
Liverpool earned all three points with an assured 3-1 victory over Southampton in the Premier League at Anfield on Saturday afternoon. Roberto Firmino got the hosts off to the perfect start as he guided his header past Gavin Bazunu in the sixth minute, but Che Adams‘ response saw the Saints level the scoring quickly in similar fashion.
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Parity was restored for just 12 minutes as Darwin Nunez combined with Harvey Elliott to finish well after a well-timed run towards the back-post in the 21st minute, and the Uruguay star secured his brace before the break when getting on the end of a cross from Andy Robertson.
Alisson remained on alert throughout the game and was needed in the second half as the visitors came close through efforts from Mohamed Elyounoussi and Adams, helping the Reds to hold on to much-needed momentum as the break for the World Cup now commences.
Liverpool put in the performance they needed in the last game before the break for the World Cup, and that will have left Jurgen Klopp’s side with a level of confidence in the second half of the season — with the squad still to be bolstered by the returns of Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz.
A goal conceded from a set-piece will be something that Liverpool look to work on during the mid-season break, and they also were caught out defensively on a couple of occasions through good play from Southampton — with Alisson required in the second half.
Manager rating (out of 10)
Pep Lijnders, 8 — It was up to Liverpool’s assistant manager to take the lead as Jurgen Klopp served his one-game suspension, and Pep Lijnders’ side produced one of their best performances of the season in the first-half. A potential glimpse into the future of the post-Klopp era.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson, 8 — Alisson had to be alert with not too many chances conceded by Liverpool, and he produced two strong saves in quick succession just after the hour-mark to maintain the two-goal lead. Another strong stop denied Che Adams from securing his brace.
DF Andy Robertson, 8 — Two assists on the day for Andy Robertson, who was back to his best in an attacking role at left-back. Liverpool were able to create plenty when the 28-year-old had possession in promising areas.
DF Virgil van Dijk, 6 — The Netherlands international couldn’t react quickly enough as Che Adams found space to head in the equaliser, though van Dijk was assured for the rest of the game.
DF Joe Gomez, 6 — A comfortable performance from Joe Gomez who was back in the starting line up through Ibrahima Konate‘s absence, and he picked up where he left off with a solid defensive display where he made himself the favourite in duels.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7 — Alexander-Arnold impressed on both ends of the pitch on the day, and he showed a degree of patience with his decision-making that saw him effective in his role. A well picked-out pass for Darwin Nunez was unlucky not to lead to an assist.
MF Fabinho, 7 — The 29-year-old broke up play when called upon and transitioned the ball quickly to Liverpool’s more advanced players.
MF Thiago, 7 — Thiago didn’t look to get a pass wrong as he conducted play from the midfield, and he was able to switch it quickly to help attacks develop while showing composure under pressure.
MF Harvey Elliott, 8 — An exquisite assist from Harvey Elliott helped get Liverpool back into the lead through Darwin Nunez, with a performance that will make him difficult to drop from Jurgen Klopp’s midfield after the break for the World Cup.
FW Darwin Nunez, 9 — Southampton didn’t seem to have an answer for Darwin Nunez on the day, who impressed with his all-around game when drifting in from the left-flank. The Uruguay international scored twice in a game where he looked at his most comfortable in the Premier League since arriving in the summer.
FW Roberto Firmino, 8 — Firmino’s accurate header got Liverpool off and running in an overall performance that saw him able to link play impressively in attacking areas. He regularly dropped into space and was able to thread passes through into the wide channels.
FW Mohamed Salah, 7 — Unlucky not to get on the scoresheet with Southampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu getting the better of him in the first half, but the forward did remain involved in plenty of Liverpool’s best pieces of play with sharp movement in the attacking third.
James Milner, 6 — A 600th Premier League appearance for Milner.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, N/R — Introduced for Firmino in the final 15 minutes.
Kostas Tsimikas, N/R — Provided a fresh option at left-back for Andy Robertson who worked hard throughout the game.
Fabio Carvalho, N/R — Bright on the left-flank in his short cameo before the end of the game.
Nat Phillips, N/R — Introduced in the final minutes as Pep Lijnders deployed a back-five to see out the game.