The home debut of Darwin Nunez was meant to be an occasion where the Uruguayan showed Liverpool and the world what he could do.
Promising performances against Manchester City in the Community Shield and Fulham on the opening day of the Premier League had seen Nunez get off the mark in the goalscoring column, but this was his first time in front of the Kop as a Liverpool player.
Nunez had shone brightly for Benfica at Anfield during the Champions League last season, prompting Jurgen Klopp to sanction a transfer that could be worth €100m if all bonus payments and add-ons are triggered.
But the 23-year-old’s happy homecoming turned into a nightmare midway through the second half at Crystal Palace as a deserved red card ended his evening prematurely.
Here’s what happened.
Crystal Palace defender Joachim Andersen had done an excellent job of staying close to Nunez, who is well known for being a powerful 6’2 striker.
The Eagles man had roughed Nunez up a little and clearly had a game plan to get under his skin – something that worked a treat during the first hour of the game. It was clear that Nunez wasn’t enjoying being bumped out and Andersen finally managed to get a reaction out of the former Benfica man.
Bumping into Nunez from behind, the Liverpool man attempted to throw his head back and catch Andersen on the chin – only to miss as the ball went out of play. The Palace defender took exception to Nunez’s actions, pulled his arm to challenge on his behaviour – an action which suddenly saw Nunez thrust his head into Andersen’s chin.
Danish international Andersen hit the deck a tad theatrically – though Nunez’s headbutt had plenty of force – and referee Paul Tierney came over to send Nunez off.
The mandatory suspension for a red card issued because of violent conduct is three domestic matches, although the FA may review the footage and decide that Nunez’s ban should be extended.
If his punishment stays at three games, Nunez will miss next week’s heavyweight clash with rivals Manchester United, and will also be ruled out of the games against Bournemouth and Newcastle United.
He will, however, be back in Liverpool’s squad for the Merseyside Derby on 3 September.
The incident was the first instance of a Liverpool player being sent off for violent conduct under the management of Jurgen Klopp.