Luis Diaz salvaged a 1-1 draw for Liverpool against Crystal Palace at Anfield despite Darwin Nunez having been sensationally sent off for a headbutt on his full debut.
Wilfried Zaha’s first-half goal had given Palace the lead against the run of play and when Nunez reacted foolishly to a push from Joachim Andersen, Jurgen Klopp’s side looked set for a miserable defeat in their first home game of the Premier League season.
With his team needing something special, Diaz provided it with a fine solo goal that completely altered the mood at Anfield. It was the impressive Palace who came closest to a winner when Zaha struck the post but the draw means both sides remain winless this season.
Liverpool: Alisson (6), Alexander-Arnold (7), Van Dijk (7), Phillips (4), Robertson (6), Fabinho (6), Elliott (7), Milner (7), Salah (7), Diaz (9), Nunez (2)
Subs: Tsimikas (5), Henderson (6), Gomez (7), Carvalho (6)
Crystal Palace: Guaita (7), Clyne (7), Andersen (8), Guehi (8), Mitchell (8), Ward (7), Doucoure (7), Schlupp (7), Eze (9), Ayew (7), Zaha (8)
Subs: Edouard (6), Richards (6), Milivojevic (6), Hughes (6), Olise (n/a)
Man of the match: Luis Diaz
How the drama at Anfield unfolded
Liverpool had dominated the first half an hour but Zaha’s breakaway strike after excellent work by Eberechi Eze shocked them. Nat Phillips, the defender making his first Premier League start for 16 months, struggled to cope with the Palace counter-attacks.
Zaha might even have doubled the advantage soon after when eluding Phillips once more but his heavy touch allowed Alisson to smother. Liverpool had to wait for stoppage time until their best chance of the first half when Nunez hit the post with a mistimed shot.
The Uruguayan’s fortunes did not improve. Whether inexperience, frustration, or both, his red card was so rash and though the supporters in the Kop chanted his name, it was a costly error. The only consolation was that his team-mates responded in adversity.
None more so than Diaz.
His goal was brilliant, collecting the ball out wide on the left before cutting inside beyond three Palace defenders and curling his shot into the far corner of the net. But it was more than the goal. His appetite to win the ball back lifted the crowd.
Liverpool pushed for the winner, Mohamed Salah and substitute Fabio Carvalho both going close. But, down to 10 men, there were gaps for Palace to exploit. Had Zaha found the other side of the post late on, Patrick Vieira would have felt it was a deserved win.
For Liverpool, the gap to Manchester City is four points already.
‘Draws are like defeats when chasing Man City’
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher:
“It’s been a terrible start points-wise, but I thought they were outstanding tonight with the way they reacted with 10 men. Draws are defeats now as Manchester City set the bar so high.
“To give City a four-point head start, yes there is a long way to go, it’s a tough act to catch one of the greatest teams in the Premier League.”
‘Moment of madness from Nunez’
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:
“The story tonight is Nunez, not only the first headbutt, but to then go again.
“He’s properly gone for Andersen. There has been no history of that at Benfica, he didn’t get sent off there. That’s the stupidity tonight. It will be a steep learning curve for him. It’s a moment of madness. It’s a proper butt, Andersen will feel that.
“We don’t know why he’s done it. I’ve done two or three things like this in my career. We don’t know why we react. We have no idea. We go off and think ‘what did I just do’ – honestly. I kicked a ball at a fan at Everton and did a similar thing in a game against Steve McManaman. It’s that red mist. It comes over you.”
Klopp: ‘It was like there was a witch in the building!’
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on injury crisis:
“The real feeling I have at the moment is I’m proud because everything went against us during the week. It was crazy, it was like there was a witch in the building. Putting in a performance in the circumstances, I’m really proud of that.
“It’s not the start we wanted but that’s the least of my problems because it’s really tricky at the moment with injuries. We have to use the next week to maybe bring one or two back. We lost Darwin today which doesn’t help but Bobby (Firmino) might be ready for next week. It’s not a concern, it’s just a start.”
Vieira: ‘Really good Palace team performance’
Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira on the point:
“There are a lot of teams coming to Liverpool that would be happy with a point, but today we played a really good game collectively and I’m pleased with the point.
“Overall we kept our organisation and discipline. It’s a really tough place to come and perform. We created some really good chances, in a difficult period we stuck together and defended well. It was a really good team performance, I’m really happy with the team.”
Key stats from a dramatic game
- Liverpool have failed to win either of their first two games in a Premier League season for the first time since 2012.
- The last time the Reds went onto lift the top-flight title having failed to win their first two games in a season was in 1981-82.
- Crystal Palace have avoided defeat away at Anfield in the Premier League for the first time since April 2017, ending a five-match losing run against the Reds on Merseyside.
- Liverpool have conceded first in each of their last six Premier League games, their longest run since a run of six between April and August 1997.
- But Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 21 Premier League games, the longest current run in the competition.
- Darwin Nunez became the second Liverpool player to be sent off on his first Premier League appearance at Anfield after Joe Cole against Arsenal in 2010.
Fantasy Premier League stats
Liverpool vs Crystal Palace FPL stats
|Bonus points||Diaz (3), Elliott (2), Alexander-Arnold (1), Eze (1)|
The next game for Liverpool is a huge one as they make the short trip to Old Trafford to face winless Manchester United on next week’s Monday Night Football. Crystal Palace are in action before that as they host Aston Villa at Selhurst Park on Saturday.