Newcastle 1-2 Liverpool: Darwin Nunez heroics seal stunning comeback win after Virgil van Dijk red card

Late heroics: Darwin Nunez’s two goals off the bench sealed an unlikely Liverpool comeback victory over Newcastle on Sunday  (Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Late heroics: Darwin Nunez’s two goals off the bench sealed an unlikely Liverpool comeback victory over Newcastle on Sunday (Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Darwin Nunez came off the bench to deliver a brilliant late brace as 10-man Liverpool produced an incredible last-gasp comeback to stun top-four rivals Newcastle in the Premier League.

The oft-criticised Uruguayan striker breathed new life into his inconsistent Reds career on Tyneside with two clinical finishes 12 minutes apart, the second deep into stoppage time, to snatch the most unlikely victory from the jaws of defeat for Jurgen Klopp’s side, who had earlier appeared on course for their first defeat by Newcastle since 2015.

A costly three-minute spell midway through the first half had looked to prove Liverpool’s undoing at a raucous St James’ Park on Sunday, with the excellent Anthony Gordon punishing a dreadful blunder from Trent Alexander-Arnold and striking through the legs of goalkeeper Alisson shortly before captain Virgil van Dijk then received his first red card for the club for a hard foul on Alexander Isak just outside the penalty area that was deemed to have prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity.

It was also the first time since 2015 that Liverpool had seen players sent off in back-to-back top-flight fixtures, though Alexis Mac Allister’s dismissal in another chaotic comeback win over Bournemouth at Anfield last weekend was subsequently overturned on appeal.

Liverpool could easily have already been down to 10 men after Alexander-Arnold, who endured a mostly wretched afternoon up against the inspired Gordon, was extremely lucky to escape a second quick-fire booking with just minutes on the clock.

The England full-back, in front of a watching Gareth Southgate, was shown an initial yellow card for tossing the ball away after being denied a free-kick despite a barge in the back by former Everton starlet Gordon, whom he then sent tumbling to the floor just moments later with an arm across the shoulder as he looked to break down the wing.

However, referee John Brooks declined to give Alexander-Arnold his marching orders, much to the anger of the home crowd and bench.

While Liverpool did then go a man and a goal down after a crazy short spell, they did well to stay in the game at 1-0 despite a hatful of Newcastle chances - led by Gordon and the influential Sandro Tonali - and Miguel Almiron twice striking the woodwork, the first a vicious volley pushed onto the crossbar by Alisson and the second a rasping shot that cannoned against the post, growing into the second period and setting the stage for the most epic of comebacks inspired by substitute Nunez.

Liverpool stay unbeaten during the early stages of the 2023/24 campaign despite a hectic start and often being a long way from their best, sitting fourth on seven points and two behind early leaders and defending champions Manchester City, who still boast a 100 per cent record after Rodri’s late goal to thwart newly-promoted Sheffield United at Bramall Lane earlier on Sunday.

Next up for the Reds is a home clash with Aston Villa next weekend, while 13th-place Newcastle will look to bounce back from successive frustrating defeats by City and Liverpool with a trip to Brighton, having opened the season full of optimism by putting Villa to the sword with five goals.