Darwin Nunez falls into Crystal Palace’s trap when he is sent off for heading Joachim Andersen

Darwin Nunez falls into Crystal Palace’s trap as Liverpool’s £85m signing is sent off for headbutting Joachim Andersen stupidly on the jaw… and the striker has yet to acquire the technical mastery of Roberto Firmino

  • Summer signing Darwin Nunez was sent off when Liverpool faced Crystal Palace
  • Palace set out with an aggressive game plan and Nunez fell into their trap
  • Nunez has quality but lacks the technical mastery of Roberto Firmino

Crystal Palace paid Darwin Nunez the compliment of coming up with a new, aggressive game plan to stop him. Little could they have guessed how easily Liverpool’s hyped £85million striker would fall into their trap.

Nunez, on his first Liverpool start, lasted just 57 frustrating minutes against Palace’s robust back-five before the red mist descended to match his shirt.

The 23-year-old Uruguayan reacted to a shove in the back from Joachim Andersen, and stupidly bent forward to headbutt his opponent in the jaw.

Darwin Nunez was sent off on his first Liverpool start for headbutting Joachim Andersen

It wasn’t the kind of comparison with compatriot Luis Suarez that he wanted on his first Liverpool appearance at Anfield and there was nothing referee Paul Tierney could do but send him down the tunnel.

The meltdown had also come. After scoring three goals in his first two Liverpool games as a substitute, Nunez found his first start for Jurgen Klopp far more demanding with Palace’s back-five of three strong centre-backs Joel Ward, Andersen and Marc Guehi suffocating him for time and space .

Palace had an aggressive game plan and Nunez fell into their trap when he cut to Andersen

Palace had an aggressive game plan and Nunez fell into their trap when he cut to Andersen

Unable to use his blistering pace, it became clear that Nunez has yet to acquire the craft or technical mastery of Roberto Fimino, the centre-forward he is replacing.

And perhaps weighed down by a drug addiction, when rare scoring opportunities presented themselves, Nunez fudged them.

An early cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold found him six yards from goal at the far post, but he misjudged the flight of the ball, twisted his body awkwardly and volleyed poorly wide.

An even better chance was squandered at half-time. Harvey Elliott spotted Nunez in front of his marker, wing-back Nathaniel Clyne, but when the pass arrived, the forward delayed, allowing Clyne to close in and eventually making a faint connection with his finish.

It became clear that Nunez has yet to acquire the craft or technical mastery of Roberto Firmino

It became clear that Nunez has yet to acquire the craft or technical mastery of Roberto Firmino

In between there was a surprised challenge on Andersen on the halfway line and another head movement towards the defender, who is the type of strong, organized and disciplined centre-back he will have to contend with in the Premier League this season.

In terms of X-factor, Nunez is similar to some of Klopp’s fine strikers, but he currently looks short when it comes to linking up with his teammates.

Even Mo Salah looks like he is trying to adapt to help Nunez, as Manchester City players are with Erling Haaland.

The Egyptian released a great pass for his colleague to run onto, but as Palace’s defenders closed in, the striker’s return ball was not short enough for Salah to shoot.

Nor will it have helped Nunez’s spirits that after he had failed the side and left the pitch, Liverpool’s ‘other’ South American Luis Diaz scored a stunning equaliser.

Anfield legend Jamie Carragher said of Nunez before kick-off: “He seems to cause havoc when he’s on the pitch.” Unfortunately for Nunez, all the destruction Monday night was self-inflicted.

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