Nunez scores 99th-minute winner as Liverpool beat Forest

Darwin Nunez came off the bench to score a dramatic 99th-minute winner and send Liverpool four points clear at the top of the Premier League with victory at struggling Nottingham Forest.

As the game drifted past the eight added minutes announced by the fourth official, Nunez, playing his first game since suffering a muscle injury at Brentford on 17 February, found the bottom corner with a glancing header from Alexis Mac Allister’s cross, sparking bedlam on the Liverpool bench and in the stands.

While flares were lit in the away end and Jurgen Klopp celebrated wildly with his team, Forest players surrounded referee Paul Tierney at the final whistle.

Coach Steven Reid was shown a red card as they fumed at the decision to give Liverpool the ball after Ibrahima Konate went down with a head injury shortly before the goal.

Forest had possession when the game was stopped but the game restarted with the ball at the feet of Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher and the away side kept the ball, went down the other end and eventually found the winner.

It was Liverpool’s first league win at the City Ground since 1984 and ensures that they will be top of the table heading into next Sunday’s crucial match against champions Manchester City.

With the game goalless heading into the final seconds, and title rivals City and Arsenal still to play this weekend, Klopp’s side faced the prospect of falling to third by Monday night before Nunez’s last-gasp intervention.

Defeat for Forest leaves them just four points above Luton Town in the final relegation place having played two games more and with the outcome of their financial breach case still to be decided.

Forest had the best chance of a forgettable first half when former Liverpool forward Divock Origi’s through ball sent Anthony Elanga clean through but the attacker was denied by the outstretched left leg of Kelleher.

Luis Diaz and Andy Robertson came close for Liverpool either side of half-time before Elanga’s first-time shot fizzed wide at the end of a flowing Forest move.

As the away side continued to push for a winner at the other end, clear chances were not forthcoming, but Liverpool kept going and were rewarded deep into stoppage time as Nunez expertly found the net.

Nunez ensures Liverpool title charge rolls on

Over the past 10 days, an injury-ravaged Liverpool have shown an enviable knack of just being able to find a way to win. Their young players have been at the heart of that but on Saturday it was their star striker who made sure that, somehow, they got over the line.

With the return of Nunez, Dominik Szoboszlai and Wataru Endo to the squad, there was a slightly more familiar look to Klopp’s side in Nottingham, although they remain without a host of first-team players.

However, those senior players who have remained fit in recent weeks have been asked to go again, and again, and again – and for much of the game it showed. It was a tired performance from tired players with precious little in the way of a spark.

The introduction of Nunez on the hour mark did not change the performance of the entire side but in the Uruguayan Liverpool have a one-man spark.

He immediately gave them a new dimension and while he is a better player than the ‘agent of chaos’ moniker he is often given, there is no doubt his presence regularly seems to discombobulate opposition defences.

As Liverpool pushed to break the deadlock, Nunez was always on the scene as the ball came into the box but it never quite bounced his way.

His chance came as the clock ticked towards 99 minutes and – for a player derided for his wastefulness in front of goal – he was clinical. A header just guided into the corner to solidify Liverpool’s place at the summit.

A performance to forget but a victory to remember for Klopp’s men. They keep finding a way.

Forest fury after a cruel late blow

With 98 minutes on the clock, Forest manager Nuno Espirito Santo would surely have been happy as his side looked set to take a point off the league leaders courtesy of a solid, stubborn performance.

Perhaps his only frustration would have been their failure to make the most of a couple of very presentable opportunities in each half.

Two minutes later he was left to come to terms with a brutal last-minute defeat and a healthy dose of perceived injustice.

Forest were adamant they should have had possession of the ball in the Liverpool third when play restarted after a stoppage for a head injury to Konate.

Instead, Liverpool was given possession and Forest was back defending again. That they regained possession a couple of times and had the chance to clear prior to the goal will do little to quell the feeling that they have been wronged.

Who knows what might have happened had they been given the ball back? What Forest knows for sure is what happened after they weren’t.

With games running out, there is no time for encouraging performances, they need points and will feel they had one snatched away from them today.

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