Liverpool snatched a win in a remarkable game against Newcastle thanks to a late double from substitute Darwin Nuñez.
Anthony Gordon opened the scoring in the 25th minute for Newcastle after a Mohamed Salah back-pass ran under the foot of Trent Alexander-Arnold, leaving the Englishman with a free run on goal before slotting past Alisson.
Things went from bad to worse for Liverpool as Virgil van Dijk received a red card in the 28th minute after he was adjudged to have taken down Alexander Isak who was through on goal.
Liverpool defended well when penned back for long spells in the second half, but a 77th minute Nuñez substitution changed the game completely.
Identical finishes in the 81st and 93rd minute from the Uruguayan won the game for Jurgen Klopp's men as he found himself one-on-one with Nick Pope before firing strikes into the bottom left-hand corner on both occasions.
Here are the top five things we learned from the game.
Darwin has evolved
When Nunez came on in the 77th minute, few would’ve expected what was about to unfold.
After failing to start the previous two Premier League games, the Uruguayan didn’t have a sense of feeling sorry for himself at all.
In the 81st minute he capitalised on a Newcastle mistake to unleash a beautiful finish into the bottom left-hand corner of Pope’s goal.
Just when you thought the points would be shared, the Reds' new number nine turned in an identical strike in the 93rd minute to win it for Liverpool, out of nowhere.
He’s here and he’s as good as ever. How can you not love him and how can you not start him now?
A game of two halves for Trent
Winning is all that matters. 🔴 pic.twitter.com/HZIH52g15h
— Trent Alexander-Arnold (@TrentAA) August 27, 2023
The game couldn’t have started worse for Alexander-Arnold.
A blatant shove on the Englishman by Anthony Gordon was ignored by referee John Brooks, while the Liverpool vice-captain was soon cautioned for throwing the ball away.
Seconds later a high arm on Gordon from Alexander-Arnold gave the Newcastle players the chance to sprint over to Brooks and plead for a second yellow, which was (thankfully) ignored.
Though the 24-year-old narrowly avoided an early red on another day, that wasn't the low point of the half. In the 25th minute, a back-pass by Salah rolled straight under the foot of Liverpool's right-back, leaving Gordon with a free run-on goal to slot past Alisson.
However, in the second half with the Reds down to ten men, Alexander-Arnold improved massively, with his ventures forward key in getting Liverpool out of their half.
Nuñez’s late double saved Liverpool, but Alexander-Arnold's roar into the away end after winning a late throw-in may have drawn the biggest smiles from the travelling fans.
His passion is as prominent as ever, but we haven't seen the very best of him yet this season.
Van Dijk sees red
Van Dijk received the first red card of his Liverpool career just three minutes after Gordon’s opener.
Newcastle’s Alexander Isak was played through on goal, and instead of coming round to cover, the Dutchman opted to go straight in for the tackle, taking the ball... and player.
It was clearly a close-call (another referee might've ruled it a good tackle) but because referee John Brooks had already decided to brandish the red card, VAR wasn’t ever going to suggest changing the decision based on it being a 'clear and obvious error'.
Van Dijk clipped the foot of Isak a split-second before winning the ball, and Brooks felt he had no choice but to send the 32-year-old packing.
The Dutchman was spitting feathers as he left the field, letting the officials know what he thought of their decision making, but just maybe the Liverpool captain needs to think about his own.
It's not hard to imagine that the Van Dijk of old would’ve ran alongside Isak, matching the Swedish forward into the channels, and blocked the shot or cross. The Reds’ captain's rash swipe on the edge of the 18-yard box was a risky move, and one that didn't pay off on the day.
Alisson to the rescue… again
Alisson made seven saves against Newcastle, the most he's ever made in a single Premier League game for Liverpool.
Another reminder he's one of the best the PL has ever seen. 🧤
— Squawka (@Squawka) August 27, 2023
How many times have we had to say this? If it wasn’t for Alisson, Liverpool would have been absolutely dead and buried before Nuñez even entered the field.
In the 36th minute, a short Kieran Trippier corner eventually found Miguel Almiron on the edge of the Liverpool box. The Paraguayan’s effort was soaring into the top corner before Alisson clawed his strike away, before parrying away the subsequent rebound.
That save wasn’t the only time the Brazilian was called into action.
He had to stay composed and on his toes throughout the second half, including a late block from a Sean Longstaff flick.
In total Alisson made seven saves, the most he's ever made in a Premier League game for Liverpool, and the Brazilian could hardly have had a better performance when some around him were left wanting.
Assured debut for Jarell Quansah
When Nuñez came on in the 77th minute, he was also followed by 20-year-old Jarell Quansah who was making his Premier League debut.
Liverpool were still losing 1-0 at this point, and Quansah looked at home at the back alongside Joe Gomez despite the baptism of fire.
There was talk the former Bristol Rovers loanee could be sent out to another club before Deadline Day, but with Van Dijk suspended and Ibrahima Konate's fitness a concern, Quansah may be asked to stick around for next week's clash with Villa.
Based on today's cameo, he deserves his chance.