Klopp and Alexander-Arnold praise 'top player' Nunez for starring role in Community Shield

Uruguayan striker comes off the bench to inspire Liverpool's 3-1 win over Manchester City

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and defender Trent Alexander-Arnold were full of praise for new striker Darwin Nunez after the Uruguayan played a starring role in the 3-1 FA Community Shield victory over Manchester City on Saturday.

In a match billed as a showdown between the two clubs' new expensive strikers, it was Nunez who stole the headlines ahead of City's Erling Haaland.

Nunez, signed for a club record fee from Benfica this summer, came off the bench to inspire Liverpool to victory. Replacing Roberto Firmino in the 59th minute with the score level at 1-1 after Julian Alvarez had cancelled out Trent Alexander-Arnold's first-half opener, Nunez won the penalty Mohamed Salah converted to regain Liverpool's lead before scoring deep in injury time.

"I think Darwin would have been fine even without scoring the third one because the penalty was Millie's (James Milner's) cross and his header," Klopp said.

"You could see in his face, you could see in the face of all his teammates how happy the boys are for him and that’s a really good sign after that short period of time that he is with us.

"Probably one of the highlights of the game, as good as we were, was the impact from the bench. Everybody who came on was immediately in the game - very, very, very helpful."

Alexander-Arnold, 23, joined his manager in praising Nunez and said the 23-year-old forward has settled quickly within the Liverpool squad.

"It has got to be up there," the England full-back said when asked to assess Nunez's impact. "He won the penalty, scored a goal and looked very lively. He's been bought in to score goals and he's proved he can do that today.

FA Community Shield player ratings

"He's a top player, a young player who is willing to learn. He's bonded well with the lads. He came on with a point to prove."

While Nunez received all the plaudits and enjoyed a dream debut, it was a frustrating outing for Haaland. The Norwegian, signed from Borussia Dortmund for an initial €55 million ($56.25m), missed several chances but City manager Pep Guardiola is confident his new striker will soon find his feet.

"He fought a lot and made the movements," Guardiola said. "It’s good for him to see the reality of the new country, new league. He was there. Today he didn't score - another day he will score."

City open their Premier League title defence away to West Ham next Sunday, while Liverpool travel to promoted Fulham on Saturday.

Updated: July 31, 2022, 5:43 AM
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