6th August, 2022
Darwin Nunez scored one goal and set up an equalizer for Mohamed Salah as Liverpool twice came from behind draw 2-2 at Fulham in their first Premier League game of the season.
Aleksandar Mitrovic headed top-flight new boys Fulham into a deserved first-half lead, but Nunez came off the bench to equalize at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
Mitrovic restored the Cottagers’ lead with a penalty after he was upended by Virgil van Dijk with 18 minutes remaining, but Salah poked in from close range after Nunez laid the ball into his path to salvaging a point before Jordan Henderson hit the woodwork in stoppage time.
It is a record six consecutive season Salah has scored in Liverpool’s opening match of a Premier League season, but they did not do enough to win it and also lost Thiago Alcantara to a hamstring injury.
Fulham were much better side in the first half and deservedly took a 32nd-minute lead, when Mitrovic rounded off a slick move by rising above Trent Alexander-Arnold at the back post to powerfully head home Kenny Tete’s inviting cross.
Liverpool looked flat, but Luis Diaz came close to equalizing before half-time when he rattled the far post with his left foot from inside the penalty area.
Nunez and Harvey Elliott replaced the ineffective Roberto Firmino and an injured Thiago six minutes into the second half.
Things almost went from bad to worse for Jurgen Klopp’s side when Neeskens Kebano’s venomous drive struck the post before Marek Rodak denied Nunez from close range as the game opened up.
Nunez leveled 64 minutes in, though, benefiting from a stroke of luck as he failed to make contact with Salah’s cross attempting a flicked finish, but the ball struck Tosin Adarabioyo before going in off the striker’s foot.
Diaz and Nunez had opportunities to put Liverpool in front, but Mitrovic restored Fulham’s lead from the spot against the run of play.
Salah spared Liverpool’s blushes with 10 minutes go, when he was left with a simple finish after Nunez had the awareness to set him up following an Alexander-Arnold pass and Henderson almost snatched all three points when he hit the crossbar.
What does it mean? Nunez rescues rusty Reds
This looked like being a tough start for Fulham back in the big time, but Liverpool could have had no complaints if Marco Silva’s impressive side had pulled off a shock win.
Last season’s runners-up raised their game in the second half, though, lifted by the introduction of big-money signing Nunez.
The Merseyside club have gained 115 Premier League points from losing positions under Klopp, the most of any team since the German took charge in October 2015.
Livewire Nunez makes an instant impact
Nunez had to be patient as Firmino was given the nod to start, but the Uruguay striker wasted no time in making an impact in London after also scoring in a substitute appearance in the Community Shield win over Manchester City.
He showed why the Reds splashed out to sign him from Benfica following Sadio Mane’s departure, hitting the target with three of his four shots and providing an assist from one of his two key passes.
Nunez is the first player to both score and assists on his Premier League debut for Liverpool.
Mitrovic shows Premier quality
Serbia international Mitrovic has had to contend with talk that he cannot cut in the Premier League, having only scored three times when Fulham were relegated in the 2020-21 season.
Mitrovic scored a staggering 43 goals as the Cottagers won the Championship last year and he was a real handful against the Reds, helping himself to a double.
Liverpool’s first home game of the campaign is against Crystal Palace a week on Monday, while Fulham travel to Wolves next Saturday.