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
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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

Dec 3, 2023

Darwin Nunez trotted off the pitch slapping his face with a wry smirk, as the Kop viscerally chanted his name. With his last kick of the night, the Uruguayan missed an open goal in a comical moment that could sum up his first year in England.

Luckily for him, the 66 preceding minutes acted as a summary of his second season on Merseyside. Jurgen Klopp told him in the summer that his ‘golden ticket to the XI was not goal-scoring but work-rate off the ball, link-up play and creativity.

He showed all of those in abundance – and got his goal to take his tally to seven for the season – as the Uruguayan buzzed around the pitch, leading the line with typical No 9 play but also popping up on the wings, dropping deep to create and even doing dirty work in his own half.

Nunez is now averaging a goal or assist every 63 minutes this season, which includes matches for Uruguay – he scored and assisted in their first win over Brazil in 22 years last week – and put in a complete performance. It meant he could laugh about that gilt-edged missed chance.

This was a five-star performance that also saw goals from Diogo Jota, Wataru Endo, Ryan Gravenberch and Mo Salah. Aside from Nunez, Gravenberch dazzled in a fine display, while there was a first Reds start for 19-year-old Luke Chambers and two more debuts off the bench.

Liverpool beat Toulouse 5-1 as they maintained their winning start to the Europa League

Liverpool beat Toulouse 5-1 as they maintained their winning start to the Europa League

Darwin Nunez continued his fine start to the season, as he netted his seventh goal of the campaign and led the line superbly for the Reds

Darwin Nunez continued his fine start to the season, as he netted his seventh goal of the campaign and led the line superbly for the Reds

However, Toulouse hit back almost immediately as Thijs Dallinga finished a fine counter attack

However, Toulouse hit back almost immediately as Thijs Dallinga finished a fine counter attack

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.

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. 

Booked: Elliott. 

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

Booked: None

Manager: Carles Martinez

Referee: Rade Obrenovic (Svn) 7. 

Attendance: not given.

‘He played incredible,’ said Klopp on Nunez. ‘I couldn’t care less that he hit the post because everything before was super convincing. 

‘He played really well… the goal he scored, dropping into midfield, all the things. He is in a good moment.’

On Gravenberch’s pleasing display, Klopp added: ‘I really like him as a boy and as a player and it is nice to see how much he is believing in himself again. Lots to improve. It is good, everyone sees the good signs but there is so much more to come.’

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.

But with their first attack of the game, 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.

Diogo Jota put the Reds 1-0 up after just nine minutes following a superb run and calm finish

Diogo Jota put the Reds 1-0 up after just nine minutes following a superb run and calm finish

Wataru Endo then put the Reds back ahead with a header as he scored his first Liverpool goal

Wataru Endo then put the Reds back ahead with a header as he scored his first Liverpool goal

Nunez made it three just four minutes later as he fired home with his left foot

Nunez made it three just four minutes later as he fired home with his left foot

Jurgen Klopp made several changes for the clash, with Mohamed Salah among those rested

Jurgen Klopp made several changes for the clash, with Mohamed Salah among those rested

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ryan Gravenberch and Diogo Jota were the three to keep their places

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ryan Gravenberch and Diogo Jota were the three to keep their places

That was a minor blot on Liverpool’s copy-sheet, though, and it was one-way traffic aside from that and they regained the lead on 30 minutes. 

Toulouse failed to clear a set-piece and Wataru Endo headed in his first goal for the club from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross.

Four minutes later, Nunez made it three. Gravenberch danced through the Toulouse midfield and fed Curtis Jones. 

His shot ricocheted into the feet of Nunez. After seeing one shot saved earlier, the Uruguayan could not miss and rifled a shot inside the near post.

Ryan Gravenberch made it four after he rounded keeper Guillaume Restes and slotted home

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

It capped a fine display from the Dutch midfielder who dominated the midfield battle

Salah made it five in injury time to mark what was a fantastic night for Jurgen Klopp's side

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

The 2,400 Toulouse supporters remained loud throughout the evening despite defeat

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 could not beat Alexander-Arnold on the goal-line, shooting straight at the defender.

Somehow, that wasn’t the miss of the night. Nunez sprung through on goal after 65 minutes, rounded the goalkeeper and somehow struck the post despite being under no pressure. Luckily for him, Gravenberch was there to tidy up and finish.

Teenagers Calum Scanlon and James McConnell came on for their debuts on another proud night for Liverpool’s academy. 

But it was their star man and most experienced player who added the fifth, as substitute Salah scored with a right-footed shot off the crossbar.

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF! 

It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football, launching with a preview show today and every week this season.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube , Apple Music and Spotify

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