Liverpool ratings: Núñez 9/10 for match-winning heroics at Forest

Liverpool maintained momentum in the Premier League title race on Saturday as they won 1-0 at the City Ground against Nottingham Forest thanks to Darwin Núñez‘s late heroics.

Former Liverpool striker Divock Origi had one of the first efforts of the game with a left-footed effort from range that whistled past the post, before Luis Díaz came close with an effort that was deflected past the post.

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A big save from Caoimhin Kelleher to deny Anthony Elanga kept the score level midway through the first half, though replays showed it might have been marginally offside. Excellent defending from Murillo denied Diaz moments later from close range.

Andy Robertson had a glowing chance in the second half after finding space at the back post from Conor Bradley‘s pass as Liverpool looked improved, but there was still space left for the hosts to exploit as Elanga flashed a first-time strike past the post in the 65th minute.

Liverpool’s substitutions included the returns from injury of Núñez and Dominik Szoboszlai, and it was the former who scored potentially the most important goal of the season in the final minute of stoppage time to win it.

Positives

Liverpool increased their control of the game as it went on and adapted well to the situation. They also welcomed back Núñez in the best way possible. The Uruguay international will be vital for the final months of the Premier League campaign.

Negatives

A poor first half saw little created by way of chances, while Nottingham Forest were also allowed to start quickly with a number of dangerous counter-attacks when the visitors lost the ball. They avoided dropping points in the title race, but there were worrying signs ahead of next week’s clash against Manchester City.

Manager rating

Jürgen Klopp, 7 — The boss adapted well to the opposition and saw his team begin to take control of the game. He was also intelligent with his team selection and substitutions, as Liverpool continued to deal with an array of injury problems.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best)

GK Caoimhin Kelleher, 7 — The Republic of Ireland international didn’t know whether Anthony Elanga was offside when producing a top-tier save to keep the score level. The 25-year-old took confidence from that, and looked calm between the posts as he continued a positive run of form deputising for Alisson.

DF Conor Bradley, 7 — There wasn’t as much space as usual for Bradley to utilise, though he did enjoy some bright moments when linking up with Harvey Elliott. Impressed when getting further forward in the second half, setting up his opposite full-back Robertson with a big chance.

DF Virgil van Dijk, 7 — Assured when challenging for duels and almost connected with a corner in the first half, only for his Netherlands teammate Cody Gakpo to get in the way.

DF Ibrahima Konaté, 8 — Strong in his tackles and read the game well, the France international showed all of his intelligence and defensive ability.

DF Andy Robertson, 7 — Robertson regularly stretched play down the left flank and showed positive signs of link-up play with Díaz and Bobby Clark. Unlucky with a big chance to score that was diverted for a corner, and he also put in some standout deliveries into the box.

MF Joe Gomez, 6 — Another game providing the anchor in midfield for Gomez, who kept things simple with his passing and took up intelligent positions to help stop counter-attacks. Allowed Alexis Mac Allister to advance further forward, and then switched to left-back when Wataru Endo and Núñez were introduced.

MF Bobby Clark, 6 — Often involved and showed signs of maturity with his decision-making. Not too far off with his curling effort that was intended for the top right corner.

MF Alexis Mac Allister, 8 — The Argentina international helped Liverpool take control of the game and was impressive when given time with his passing into advanced areas. Liverpool’s standout star in midfield, who showed composure before picking out Núñez for the winner.

FW Harvey Elliott, 6 — Tireless work saw him battle well, and he chose the right moments to take risks in the final third, but he didn’t seem happy with his performance after being replaced by Szoboszlai.

FW Cody Gakpo, 5 — Gakpo got himself into promising positions when the ball was out wide which allowed his full-backs to ask a question of the defence with deliveries, but his decision-making could have been better at times. Should have played the ball back into Núñez when shooting from a narrow angle in the second half.

FW Luis Díaz, 6 — Had Liverpool’s best chance of the first half when finding space after coming into more central areas from the left, forcing an impressive block from Murillo. Continued to threaten with intricate link-up play with Liverpool’s forwards, but couldn’t find the finishing touch.

Substitutes (players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

Darwin Núñez (Robertson, 60′) 9 — Scored what might be the most important goal of the season for Liverpool to win it late, in an excellent overall performance in the 40 minutes or so he was on the pitch.

Wataru Endo (Clark, 60′) 6 — Always in the right position and played progressively in the right moments.

Dominik Szoboszlai (Elliott, 76′) — Smashed an effort towards goal before appeals for a handball that would have been harsh given the power of his effort.

Jayden Danns (Gakpo, 84′) — On after scoring a brace in midweek, and was instantly involved with a check for a penalty from Danilo‘s challenge on him. He was then booked for a heavy challenge on the goalkeeper.

Kostas Tsimikas (Bradley, 84′) — Just six minutes of normal time remained for Tsimikas to make an impact from the bench. Put in a dangerous ball into the box for Danns during stoppage time.