DARWIN NUNEZ came off the bench to score four times as Liverpool hammered RB Leipzig 5-0 in their latest pre-season friendly.
Mohamed Salah opened the scoring in Germany when he deceived Peter Gulacsi with a first-time finish he rolled into the net following a lay-off by Roberto Firmino.
Then new signing Nunez netted his first goal for the Reds, converting from the penalty spot after Luis Diaz had been brought down.
Nunez grabbed a second moments later, finishing with aplomb after Liverpool had regained possession in midfield to send him clear inside the area.
Nunez’s hat-trick was completed with 69 minutes showing on the clock when he touched in a low cross from Harvey Elliott from close range.
His final act was to cap a fine night’s work for Jürgen Klopp’s side by sweeping in his fourth – and the Reds’ fifth – following a counter-attack spearheaded by Fabio Carvalho.
Klopp’s Liverpool made seven changes from their last friendly – a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace in Singapore on Friday – with Virgil van Dijk captaining the side and Salah beginning in attack.
Nunez received a much-needed confidence boost with his four goals after facing ridicule from fans for his point-blank miss against Manchester United.
Liverpool were 3-0 down at half-time before Facundo Pellistri added a fourth, but record signing Nunez had a chance to make the scoreline less damaging.
The ball broke to the Uruguayan on the rebound around eight yards out, yet somehow Nunez blasted over the bar with Tom Heaton on the ground.
Football fans were quick to mock Nunez and question why Liverpool spent so much money on the former Benfica star.
Footage emerged of the Uruguayan misfiring in training too – but he seems to have rediscovered his goalscoring touch.
That delighted Jurgen Klopp, who hailed a “perfect night” for Nunez after he shot down his doubters.
Klopp had gone out of his way to defend the 22-year-old after a barrage of online criticism.
The Liverpool boss said: “Mo Salah gives Darwin the penalty.
“And Darwin, Pandora’s box was open. That’s of course a perfect night for him.”
Nunez stood up for himself after coming on as a second-half substitute, showing that he is an out–and–out finisher in the mould of Anfield icons like Ian Rush and John Aldridge.
Klopp added : “We always think that if you pay a lot of money then the players feel no pressure or whatever.
“They are all completely normal human beings and the first touch is not perfect and then this generation of players read social media, which is really not smart, but they do.
“But all of a sudden you get in a rush and that’s the best way obviously to stop all these discussions.
“He’s a different striker to what we have or what we had, but he’s a really good one.”
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