It took Darwin Núñez 13 minutes to score his first English Premier League goal, but it came in the 64th minute as he was brought in as an £85 million super sub during a whirlwind match at Craven College where Liverpool and the newly promoted Fulham ended in a 2-2 draw. This is the first game of the season, so Reds fans can take solace in that — or, you know, repeat “It’s early” until the words lose their meaning and seem misspelled.
However, this is not an exaggeration of Jürgen Klopp’s decision to treat the game as if it were a midseason, midweek game that could be won by just showing up. No, I won’t. Instead, let’s marvel at Núñez opening his LFC and EPL account in the most brutal of ways.
I don’t give a damn about the tiny deflections it took for the ball to land on the heel of the Uruguayan’s right boot before it was skilfully kicked in. That bit of skill is gross in so many ways. The man is a professional goalscorer. The only thing more grim than his debut West London goal on Saturday morning was Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrović.
Serbian big-boyed Trent Alexander-Arnold for the game’s opening score, a header from a looping cross, then a second half penalty in the box that gave him a chance from the spot, which he sent past Allison to take a 2-1 lead.
This is his first goal, because if you’re responsible for the point your team won from second place in last year’s EPL and Champions League, you deserve some flowers.
Mo Salah was able to equalize a few minutes later, extending his opening game scoring streak to six. Barring a Jordan Henderson Hail Mary hitting the top of the frame, Liverpool didn’t threaten again as the home side were content to play for and deserved a well-deserved draw.
After the game, Klopp gave a meandering reaction for leaving his expensive new toy from the starting eleven.
If the parallels of this week’s Community Shield win over Man City and the ensuing brainfart against a lesser opponent weren’t so perfect compared to last season, I wouldn’t point to them. The Reds take down the ruthless machine for a not-great trophy, then keep their eye off the ball just long enough to take a punch in the face with it.
The EPL race came to a close a season ago and Liverpool will likely be in the all-too-familiar position to look at Man City in the standings after Sunday, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s early, it’s early, it’s early.