James Milner and his team-mates will “rally round” Darwin Nunez after the striker was sent off on his home debut on Monday, Liverpool’s vice-captain has said.
The Uruguayan was dismissed just before the hour mark at Anfield by referee Paul Tierney during Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace after he reacted to being shoved by Joachim Andersen by pushing his head into the Dane’s face.
The Reds were 1-0 down at the time, but still managed to salvage a point after Luis Diaz equalised Wilfried Zaha’s first-half opener with a thunderous effort from all of 25 yards at the Kop end.
The hosts could have won it at the death, with Mohamed Salah and substitute Fabio Carvalho both going close with volleyed efforts, though Zaha also nearly snatched it at the other end.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Milner said Nunez will learn from his mistake, with the help of his team-mates.
“I didn’t see the incident,” the 36-year-old said. “Obviously he’s going to be disappointed with that and it’s down to us to get round him and rally. I’m sure he’ll learn from it.
“I think the reaction [from the team] was the most important thing. The team reacted very, very well and the ground reacted very well – as they always do – they got right behind us and we could’ve nicked a winner. It wasn’t to be but we move on.
“That’s what good teams do, they get together with disappointments and you stick together. We’ve got a great team spirit at the club and you don’t have to say too much about the fans here. They’re obviously incredible and always get behind us, especially when things are tough. They did that and we rallied.
“It was disappointing not to get the winner but I think the reaction was incredible from the boys – 10 men and kept pushing.”
1 – Darwin Núñez is the second Liverpool player to be sent off on his first Premier League appearance at Anfield after Joe Cole vs Arsenal in 2010, also on August 15th. Mist. #LIVCRY pic.twitter.com/pDF2Ahvks7
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 15, 2022
Liverpool have already lost ground in the race for the title, sitting four points behind champions Manchester City after two games, but Milner is not concerned given the campaign is still in its infancy.
“It’s not the ideal start but you see the readiness for the season and it’s obviously a long, long season,” he said. “It’s not the start we would want but you see the fight there.
“We’ve had a week of tough things that have gone on [injuries] and preparation hasn’t been ideal. I think it’s disappointing but you see the fighting spirit was there and no-one can deny that. We fought until the end.”
Liverpool went into the break 1-0 down despite having 17 shots on goal to Palace’s four in the first half, but Milner heaped praise on Diaz for the quality of his leveller in the second.
“When we had the chances we had and the moments around the box and didn’t quite get the break, sometimes you need that moment of brilliance,” he added.
“Obviously when you’ve got players like [Diaz] on the pitch that can create something out of nothing, it was an incredible goal and hopefully there’ll be many more to come this season from him.”