Why Virgil van Dijk ‘protected’ ball before Darwin Nunez took Liverpool penalty

Virgil van Dijk believes Darwin Nunez is now starting to understand his potential at Liverpool – and pointed to the competitors for locations in Jurgen Klopp’s goal-laden assault as a contributory issue.

Nunez has loved a powerful begin to his second season at Anfield having suffered an at instances troublesome debut marketing campaign following his arrival in the summertime of 2022 for what may turn into a membership document charge of £85million.

The Uruguay worldwide had a hand in all three targets in Thursday’s 3-1 Europa League win over LASK in Austria, slotting house the equaliser from the spot, concerned within the build-up to Luis Diaz scoring the second and aiding substitute Mohamed Salah for the third.

Nunez stepped off the bench to attain twice within the win at Newcastle United final month, performed key roles in two targets towards Aston Villa and was pivotal in Liverpool’s second-half revival at Wolves final weekend when once more rising as substitute.

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The 24-year-old will hope he has carried out sufficient to retain his place for the Premier League go to of West Ham United on Sunday having scored the winner within the fixture final season.

And with Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota additionally vying for a task, Van Dijk is satisfied the Liverpool forwards – who’ve scored 11 of the Reds’ 15 targets this season – are driving one another to enhance.

“Everyone has a task to play whether or not you begin or not,” said the Liverpool skipper. “Everyone has now seen the potential and the standard Darwin has.

“Up front, the competition is quite good. They all have to push each other and it’s good to see. Against LASK, Darwin was important with the goal. Long may it continue, and with the other boys as well.”

When the equalising penalty was awarded towards LASK, Van Dijk made some extent of holding on to the ball and standing by the spot before Nunez stepped up – echoing related actions from his predecessor as skipper, Jordan Henderson.

“It’s fairly apparent actually,” explained Van Dijk. “You must be sure to defend at the least the penalty spot. It’s a little bit of a thoughts recreation there ultimately, perhaps they have been going to try to get in your head. It was at all times the plan that Darwin was going to take it, and I’m glad he scored.”

Liverpool made 11 modifications for the sport, one in every of which noticed one other ahead, 17-year-old winger Ben Doak, make his first senior begin. The Scotland under-21 worldwide had moments of promise before being substituted on the hour, and Van Dijk mentioned: “It was a giant evening for him. It was by no means going to be simple.

“It was a difficult pitch, but he could have set up at least two goals in the first half where he went past his man like no-one was there, but unfortunately nobody was on the end of it. I am pleased for him and I’m also very excited for him and the future that’s coming.”

The Reds have come from behind to win in 4 of their ongoing run of 5 successive victories that they are going to look to increase with the Premier League go to of West Ham United on Sunday.

And of Liverpool’s regained resilience, Van Dijk mentioned: “That’s one thing to be pleased with. It must be like that. We have the standard to make a distinction. Whether you begin or are on the bench, you at all times must have that perception and it appears like we undoubtedly do.

“You’ve seen within the final couple of weeks, if you happen to watch carefully it’s a implausible group to be a part of. We have loads of high quality, loads of youthful gamers, gamers who’re getting new roles and they’re having fun with that as effectively.

“Everybody wants to play their best football each and every game, but sometimes you have to find a way, like we did at Wolves. On Thursday it was after we conceded a set-piece, we showed that we stayed calm and found a way as well. It’s good to keep working on things that we should improve. It was a good step.”

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