Winners & Losers: Darwin Nunez and Four Other Liverpool Players Excellent vs Fulham

Liverpool player ratings and performance against Fulham saw them making a remarkable comeback at Anfield, securing a vital step towards the Carabao Cup final.

Liverpool have a strong history at Anfield, having never lost the first leg of a League Cup semi-final. Their recent 2-1 triumph over Fulham further strengthens their reputation. Notably, on only one occasion have the Reds triumphed in the initial game at this semi-final stage and failed to advance to the final. This historical trend hints at a potential appearance at Wembley on February 25.

Despite their overall success, Liverpool’s performance was lackluster for a significant portion of the match. Fulham, under Marco Silva’s guidance, executed their strategy effectively. Their approach involved absorbing Liverpool’s attacks, capitalizing on opportunities, and employing deliberate tactics to slow down the game. Referee David Coote seemed lenient towards Fulham’s methods.

However, the dynamics of the game shifted dramatically with the entry of substitutes Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez. These forwards injected energy and creativity into Liverpool’s gameplay, ultimately collaborating to secure the decisive goal.

Reflecting on the match, both teams can find positives. With away goals not being a deciding factor, a narrow victory for Fulham in the subsequent leg would lead to extra time. Given Liverpool’s consistent scoring record in the season, having netted in 30 out of 31 matches, manager Jürgen Klopp remains optimistic about guiding his team to yet another final.

Winners

Darwin Núñez and Cody Gakpo, both substitutes, showcased excellent performances, making a case for their inclusion in the starting lineup for the Reds’ upcoming match in 11 days. Additionally, Conor Bradley impressed while filling in for Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Losers

Virgil van Dijk seldom receives bookings or commits significant errors resulting in goals. However, he unfortunately experienced both in this instance, marking a rare occurrence for him. Similarly, his compatriot Ryan Gravenberch also had a subpar performance that evening.

Liverpool Player Ratings vs Fulham

Caoimhín Kelleher — 7

The Irish international could do little about the Fulham goal and dealt well with the visitors’ shots on target thereafter. While there’ll be work to be done at Craven Cottage, Kelleher has so far done his part towards earning himself another Wembley final appearance.

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Conor Bradley — 8

In just his fifth start for Liverpool, the 20-year-old did not look overawed and can be pleased with his nights work. He frequently got forward to support attacks, winning free-kicks in very dangerous areas. Bradley dealt well with the threat of Willian on the whole too.

Ibrahima Konaté — 8

The French international largely picked up where he left off with his man of the match performance at the Emirates. Strong defensively, Konaté also played several line breaking passes which were desperately needed against the massed Fulham ranks while the visitors led.

Virgil van Dijk — 6

Virgil van Dijk makes very few serious mistakes but he blundered for the Fulham opener and was booked shortly afterwards (albeit Andreas Pereira’s theatrics did him no favors). While a not a terrible performance by the standards of most center-backs, it was certainly a below-par evening for the 32-year-old

Joe Gomez — 7

Gomez didn’t mark his 200th appearance for the Reds with a first goal but he came about as close as any Liverpool player to scoring in the first half. Another solid outing for a player still to appear in his favored position this season.

Ryan Gravenberch — 5

Ryan Gravenberch’s first 45 minutes was summed up when he tried to take a quick throw-in but was penalised for handling the ball before it had even gone out of play. He made a better start to the second half but was swiftly withdrawn for Darwin Núñez in the 56th minute.

Alexis Mac Allister — 6

This wasn’t a classic Mac Allister outing by any means. He didn’t do anything wrong especially but neither did he offer much above a standard performance. As this was his first full game since a six-match injury absence, the run-out should at least benefit the Argentine in future.

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Curtis Jones — 7

Jones was undoubtedly Liverpool’s most impactful midfielder, and not just because he scored a heavily-deflected equalizer when the Reds were crying out for one. Equally, he didn’t hit the heights of recent weeks, which was a theme throughout the side.

Harvey Elliott — 5

Elliott maintained his record of being the only player to start every game in the Europa League and domestic cups this season. Booed by fans of his former club throughout, the 20-year-old was taken off early in the second half and could have had few complaints at the decision.

Diogo Jota — 8

This was Jota’s first start since the 1-1 draw at Manchester City and he was the liveliest of the front three. He had Liverpool’s best chance of the first half, though it was from a tight angle, and played a key role in the equalizer.

Luis Díaz — 6

Díaz was largely uninvolved early on, making a greater contribution in his own penalty box rather than Fulham’s in the first half. The Colombian picked up a little after the break like so many of his teammates but didn’t make much of an impression on the match.

SUBSTITUTES

Darwin Núñez — 8

You never know what you’re going to get from Darwin. There were a couple of head scratching choices from the Uruguayan but he picked up two assists and fired in a couple of excellent shots on target. The kind of performance we need to see more often.

Cody Gakpo — 8

Like Núñez, Gakpo made Liverpool better as soon as he came on. The former PSV Eindhoven man pressed well immediately and gave Liverpool the lead after an excellent move. When it looked for a long time tonight like the Reds would be going to Craven Cottage behind in the tie, Gakpo has given them a great chance of reaching Wembley.

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