LIVERPOOL, England – Darwin Nunes signed for the World Cup after scoring twice in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Uruguay international has scored a total of nine goals this season in all competitions, one more than Sadio Mane did at the same stage last year.
Nunez’s strike highlighted his growing influence at Liverpool, with seven goals in his last 10 appearances.
It also ensured that Jurgen Klopp’s side go into the Premier League break for the World Cup in high spirits after such a lackluster start to the season.
Back-to-back league wins against Tottenham and Southampton will lift the mood around Anfield after four defeats.
With qualification for the Champions League round of 16 also secured, it means Liverpool can look forward to the resumption of the campaign in December with some optimism.
The title challenge may already look beyond Klopp’s team but Germany will see a green shot of hope, not least in the form of his big summer acquisition, Nunes.
The former Benfica forward was signed for an initial fee of $78 million to replace Mane, who joined Bayern Munich.
This number may increase to 104 million dollars.
But despite coming with such a huge price tag, Nunes has looked far from the finished article, while Mane’s absence has been felt.
Nunez’s double against Southampton will be hugely encouraging for Klopp, who imposed a touchline ban following his attack against Manchester City last month. And the fact that Nunes surpassed Manny’s goal output at the same time last year may feel significant to the player as well.
Roberto Firmino put Liverpool ahead with a header in the sixth minute before Che Adams quickly equalized in the ninth minute.
From there, Nunez took center stage.
He headed home Gavin Bazon in the 21st after Harvey Elliott’s cross and then converted Andy Robertson’s cross three minutes before half-time to beat new Southampton manager Nathan Jones in his first game.