LONDON (AP)New Liverpool signing Darwin Nunez came off the bench to score one goal and set up another Saturday as the Reds salvaged a 2-2 draw at promoted Fulham in the opening round of the Premier League.
Aleksandar Mitrovic put Fulham ahead twice at Craven Cottage as Marco Silva’s team threatened a major upset, but Nunez showed just why Liverpool spent big to bring the Uruguay forward in from Benfica this offseason.
Nunez first met a low cross from Mohamed Salah with a deft backheel flick into the top of the net to make it 1-1 in the 64th minute, and then helped his Egyptian teammate net the second equalizer in the 81st. Nunez tried to control a high cross into the box that time but the ball instead fell into the path of Salah, who had a simple tap-in.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson then came close to an injury-time winner when his curling long-distance shot hit the crossbar.
Mitrovic headed in the opening goal in the first half, rising above Trent Alexander-Arnold at the far post to meet a cross from the right, and then converted a penalty in the 72nd minute after he was brought down by Virgil van Dijk.
Fulham also had a chance to make it 2-0 in the 57th when Neeskens Kebano hit the post with a shot from the right of the area after a quick attack.
”That great chance from Kebano, if he’d scored the second goal the game would be completely different but I really enjoyed (it),” Fulham manager Marco Silva said. ”Our first half was almost perfect.”
The draw will still count as a setback for Liverpool, which is aiming to wrest back the title after finishing one point behind champion Manchester City last season.
”The start of the game was really bad from us,” manager Jurgen Klopp said. ”No direction, no positivity, no opening up, no breaking lines, nothing (of) what you have to do.”
Klopp had opted against starting Nunez even though the newcomer made quite an impression in preseason and scored in the Community Shield win over City last weekend. Roberto Firmino was preferred instead, but Liverpool’s attack clicked into a higher gear once Nunez came on for the Brazilian attacker.
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