'Unlucky' Darwin Nuñez turning into playmaking machine

Jurgen Klopp admitted he was at a loss as to how to explain the reason for Darwin Nuñez's finishing struggles, but underlined his happiness with the forward, who bagged two assists as Liverpool beat Fulham on Wednesday night.

The Reds had to come from behind in their Carabao Cup semi final first leg at Anfield, after Willian scored in the first half to stun the hosts.

Nuñez and Cody Gakpo became the game-changers for Liverpool on the night, with the latter scoring the winner three minutes after Curtis Jones' deflected equaliser, while the former grabbed two assists during an impressive 34-minute cameo.

As noted by Opta, despite only coming on ten minutes into the second-half, Nuñez managed to get the highest expected goals (0.76), the most touches in the opposition box (12), the most completed dribbles (3) and had the joint most shots (4) of any Liverpool player – as well as grabbing both assists.

The Uruguayan's finishing has been the topic of much debate, while he had four shots in the win over Fulham. However, what cannot be faulted is his link-up play.

With ten lay-ons in just 167 minutes in all competitions, Nuñez has the best assist rate of all Premier League players this season – also reported by Opta.

Speaking in his post-match press conference, Klopp heaped praised on Nuñez for continuing to put in the effort despite being inexplicably 'unlucky' in front of goal.

“I don’t know how to explain the Darwin situation,” Klopp said in his post-match press conference. “I’m so happy about our crowd, how they take it; I’m so happy about Darwin’s reaction, how he takes it.

“But you cannot be more unlucky than he was in this finishing situation, it’s just not possible. There was absolutely everything right, then the ball didn’t go in.

“Then he still sets up the other goal. I really think that’s really special to do that, again.

“For Mo in the other game, probably West Ham if I’m right, then today for Cody. Super special.”

“He plays outstanding. I have to say it, I have to say it,” the manager continued.

“So many things I really love about the game.

“The first year was a year to adapt, and he scored here and there, but now the contribution in all games."

Darwin Nunez, Cody Gakpo, Liverpool vs Fulham - Propaganda

Darwin Nunez, Cody Gakpo, Liverpool vs Fulham - Propaganda

Klopp also revealed that he had planned to start Nuñez against Fulham, but for a minor fitness issue.

“He would have started tonight, but he had cramps in the last game, so three days later he doesn’t start,” the manager added.

“The boys don’t start because they score or don’t score, my belief and my trust in them is – as long as they behave properly – endless.

“They just deserve it, because of the effort they put in.

“That you can bring Cody and Darwin from the bench, that’s a proper change.”

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