Two-goal Darwin Nunez makes the right impression on Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp

Posted Friday, March 08, 2024 by PA

Two-goal Darwin Nunez makes the right impression on Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp praised Darwin Nunez’s attitude after the striker scored twice – including the 1,000th goal of the manager’s reign – in a comfortable 5-1 Europa League victory over Sparta Prague.

The Uruguay international took his tally for the season to 16 – just two behind Mohamed Salah who had a goal disallowed by VAR on his return from injury – with a performance which was a perfect warm-up for Sunday’s visit of Premier League title rivals Manchester City.

After an up-and-down first season following his potential club-record move from Benfica the 24-year-old has found more consistency this season and but for a touch more luck would have been pushing Salah as leading scorer.

“He had absolutely more than (an) OK first season but he had to adapt, that’s done, and he is settled in the middle of the team,” said Klopp after the last-16 first leg which has put them within touching distance of the quarter-finals of the only trophy he has not won in his career.

“Wonderful guy, wonderful boy. He loves to play for this team together with these boys and has quality coming out of his ears, to be honest.

“It’s like strikers are, they score and then they don’t score. Is he at his absolute peak in general? Not now for us. But can he develop? Yes. Is he a threat all the time? Yes.

“He has the most important attitude a striker needs to have; he missed chances but all strikers are doing that but he is not bothered by it and just keeps going.

“That’s why he now has a nice number of goals, games to come, opportunities to come.

“When he’s not scoring he for us is incredibly important as he is a constant threat and gives us spaces in areas and options.”

The only blemish on the night appeared to be an injury to centre-back Ibrahima Konate but Klopp played down the concerns over the defender and said his substitution minutes into the second half was precautionary.

“We don’t know (yet). Ibou said to me when he passed me in that moment ‘I thought if I do another sprint then it could be bad.’ So, he said he should be fine, but we don’t know,” added the manager.

Klopp was afforded the chance to rest a number of players – Virgil van Dijk started on the bench alongside Salah and Dominik Szoboszlai, a late goalscorer, but all got minutes after the break – while also easing back Salah with a gentle quarter-of-an-hour at the end.

He was also able to manage the minutes of some of his more over-worked players with utility man Joe Gomez coming off at half-time, Nunez after 51 minutes and the increasingly important Alexis Mac Allister, who opened the scoring with a sixth-minute penalty, with a quarter of the game to go after Luis Diaz had made the game safe with a fourth goal.

“Joey is fine. We took him off. He played a lot of games so that was more rotation, precaution. Now let’s see what (it) is with Ibou,” said Klopp.


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