Liverpool 5-1 Toulouse: Rampant Reds thrash French side at Anfield thanks to five different goalscorers as Jurgen Klopp’s side extend 100 per cent record to take control of Europa League group
- Liverpool kept up their 100 per cent record in the Europa League on Thursday
- They beat Toulouse 5-1 after Jota, Endo, Nunez, Gravenberch and Salah scored
- Follow Mail Sport’s new Liverpool WhatsApp channel for all the breaking news
Jurgen Klopp told Darwin Nunez in the summer that his ‘golden ticket’ to nailing down a starting spot in Liverpool’s XI was not his goal-scoring but work rate off the ball, how he aids the build-up by dropping deep and creativity.
Nunez took his goal tally to seven for the season as Liverpool comfortably saw off French side Toulouse to make it three wins from three in the Europa League, but it was his all-round performance – bar one comical miss – that will have Premier League rivals sweating.
His 66 minutes on the pitch summed up the ‘changed man’ feel to Nunez in his second season – he is averaging a goal or assist every 67 minutes for club and country. That meant he could laugh about the fact he missed an open goal with his last kick of the game.
As the Kop sang his name, the Uruguayan left the field slapping himself in the face with a wry smirk, knowing he should have left with a brace.
He had done the hard part by taking on a defender and the goalkeeper but then hit the post when it was easier to score.
Liverpool beat Toulouse 5-1 as they maintained their winning start to the Europa League
Diogo Jota put the Reds 1-0 up after just nine minutes following a superb run and calm finish
However, Toulouse hit back almost immediately as Thijs Dallinga finished a fine counter attack
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It feels harsh to pick out one player in a near-perfect display by Liverpool but Nunez starred all over the pitch as he wreaked havoc in the penalty box, both wings, midfield areas and even the last line of defence. Diogo Jota, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch also scored.
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Kelleher 6; Alexander-Arnold 7 (Quansah 66, 6), Matip 7, Gomez 6, Chambers 7 (Scanlon 66, 6); GRAVENBERCH 8 (Salah 70, 6), Endo 7, Jones 7 (McConnell 88); Elliott 6.5, Nunez 8 (Gakpo 66, 6), Jota 7.5.
Subs not used: Alisson, Jaros, Van Dijk, Diaz, Szoboszlai, Mac Allister, Tsimikas.
Manager: Jurgen Klopp 7.
TOULOUSE (5-3-2): Restes; Desler (Kamanzi 73), Costa, Nicolaisen, Diarra, Suazo (Magri 67); Casseres (Gelabert Pina 67), Sierro, Schmidt; Donnum (Genreau 67), Dallinga (Begraoui 80)
Subs not used: Bangre, Dominguez, Lacombe, Keben, Elebi Mawissa
Manager: Carles Martinez
Referee: Rade Obrenovic (Svn) 7.
Attendance: not given.
Gravenberch dazzled as the Dutchman, who last week said he styled his game on Zinedine Zidane, glided past defenders with ease to show glimpses of the French icon. Luke Chambers, 19, started, while fellow teens Calum Scanlon and James McConnell debuted off the bench.
But the biggest roar of the night came when Nunez left the field to a rousing ovation.
He has benefitted from advice from Uruguay boss Marcelo Bielsa on improving his link-up play, while he has spent the summer stepping up his English language classes to help team-mates.
Anfield paid tribute before the match to former Everton chairman Bill Kenwright, who passed away on Monday evening.
They played a rendition of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother and the PA system said his fight for justice after the Hillsborough disaster would never be forgotten.
Some Toulouse fans also saluted Everton, with one seen outside the ground holding a Toffees shirt aloft, though one suspects this was more for a bit of humour.
The away end joined in with You’ll Never Walk Alone and a sea of violet purple shirts bounced up and down for 90 minutes.
But Liverpool were ahead inside 10 minutes thanks to a magical solo goal from Diogo Jota.
The Portuguese, who was one of just two men not changed from the Merseyside Derby XI, picked the ball up with his back facing goal, skipped past three defenders and finished emphatically.
Wataru Endo then put the Reds back ahead with a header as he scored his first Liverpool goal
Darwin Nunez made it three just four minutes later as he fired home with his left foot
It continued Nunez’s fine start to the season, as he netted his seventh goal of the campaign
Jurgen Klopp made several changes for the clash, with Mohamed Salah among those rested
Minutes later, Darwin Nunez should have made it 2-0 and put the game to bed before it had really got going.
It came after a lovely exchange of passes between Joel Matip and Jota in tight areas, with Nunez selling a defender a dummy before shooting straight at Guillaume Restes.
From the resulting counter-attack, Toulouse sprung past Liverpool’s offside trap with ease and Thijs Dallinga, who helped Toulouse to their first-ever trophy with a brace in the French Cup final last year, had the freedom of Anfield to charge through on goal and score.
Toulouse’s goal was a minor blot on Liverpool’s copy-sheet, though, and it was one-way traffic aside from that. Curtis Jones had a shot deflected narrowly over the crossbar, while the effervescent Ryan Gravenberch manufactured a shot for himself which Restes saved well.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ryan Gravenberch and Diogo Jota were the three to keep their places
Ryan Gravenberch made it four after he rounded keeper Guillaume Restes and slotted home
It capped a fine display from the Dutch midfielder who dominated the midfield battle
But Restes was rooted to the spot after half an hour as Liverpool regained the lead. Toulouse failed to clear their lines from a set-piece and Alexander-Arnold crossed to Wataru Endo.
The Japan captain simply diverted his header into the far corner for his first goal for the club.
Four minutes later, Nunez got his goal. Gravenberch, who looks like a steal at £34million from Bayern Munich, glided through the Toulouse midfield and fed Jones.
Salah made it five in injury time to mark what was a fantastic night for Jurgen Klopp’s side
The 2,400 Toulouse supporters remained loud throughout the evening despite defeat
His shot ricocheted into the feet of Nunez. This time, the Uruguayan could not miss and rifled a shot inside the near post.
Toulouse had nothing to lose in the second half and were handed a golden chance to score just minutes after the break when Kelleher tossed away possession in his box and Gabriel Suazo somehow could not beat Alexander-Arnold on the goal-line, shooting straight at the defender.
Liverpool made it four on 65 minutes after Nunez sprung through on goal, rounded the goalkeeper and somehow struck the post despite being under no pressure. Luckily for him, Gravenberch was there to tidy up and finish for 4-1.
Mo Salah completed the five-star performance as the Egyptian came off the bench late on to score with a right-footed shot off the crossbar and seal a positive three points for Liverpool, which sees them pretty much certain to top the group.
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