Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp praised the “big steps” striker Darwin Nunez has already made this season after his crucial contribution in the 3-1 win over West Ham.
The Uruguay international’s fourth goal of the season – bringing him level with Mohamed Salah, who scored the first penalty – was crucial in turning the game around for the hosts after Jarrod Bowen’s diving header restored parity.
Substitute Diogo Jota’s late goal secured a fifth successive Premier League win and lifted the Reds to second place in the table, but it was Nunez’s all-round performance that particularly caught the eye, his brilliant volley the standout moment of the game .
“He has made great progress in the last few weeks. He is a threat. You all saw the goal, that was probably pretty good, right? That was really strong,” said Klopp.
“Incredible. Everyone looks at me when I talk about the goals, but these eyes – I’ve only seen it once – can’t wait to see it properly again.
“He was always available. Now that we have a ball player, it’s super important for us: hit the ball (into him), get it on his chest and play from there.
“That’s how we scored the third goal at Wolves, which is super important for us. The defensive work he does is probably the main difference.
“He always wanted to do it, but it was less coordinated. This looks much better now.
“We found a way to do it around him. Curtis (Jones) and Dom (Dominik Szoboszlai) help a lot with how flexible they are in this way. It’s really good, absolutely.”
In the end the result was pleasant, but for long stretches that wasn’t the case as resilient West Ham were always a threat and good at breaking Liverpool’s momentum.
“It was expected. A difficult game; there were some very good moments in the first half, but we didn’t have enough control to prevent them completely.
“I really thought we played well in different phases, lost some balls that we shouldn’t have lost, but we scored our goal, that was a great counterattack.
“When they scored, I wasn’t completely surprised. We should have defended it better, that’s clear. The most important thing is to stay in the game and we did that in the second half.
“We controlled it a lot better and really challenged them. We really caused them problems and scored some great goals.”
West Ham coach David Moyes, who is yet to win in his 20 visits to Anfield, was frustrated that his side could no longer hold on to the 1-1 draw.
“We did a pretty good job in the first half. “We created a few chances in the first half,” he said.
“We probably tried to cause them problems and until the penalty I thought we had the game really well under control.”
“I thought Liverpool countered us more than we did because we controlled the game really well.
“Maybe you come here and only get three chances and they get ten and have to hope they miss nine and we take two.”
“I was disappointed with the second goal. There are a lot of positive things to take away, but the disappointment was greater with the second and third goals, probably more so with the third.”
Moyes has also dismissed the chances of re-signing former midfielder Jesse Lingard, who trained with the club after leaving Nottingham Forest as a free agent in the summer, with the player now apparently destined for Saudi Arabia.
“I feel very comfortable with it, more than relaxed,” he added. “We like Jesse a lot, I just don’t know if we need another player in that position.”