Jurgen Klopp insisted he has never experienced anything like 10-man Liverpool’s dramatic comeback win at Newcastle in his long managerial career.
The Reds were trailing 1-0 and were down to 10 men following skipper Virgil van Dijk’s first-half dismissal before substitute Darwin Nunez struck twice to claim all three points at St James’ Park.
Asked what the stunning comeback said about the spirit of his team, Klopp said: “Absolutely everything. In my more than 1,000 games as a coach, I never had a game like this, that is the truth.
“There have been other games, but with 10 men in an atmosphere like this against an opponent like this… It’s not that I can’t remember, I’m pretty sure it never happened because these moments are rare and super-special.
“But I thought the boys deserved it today because with 10 men, we played better and gave Newcastle a proper game.
“Three things were clear at half-time: Trent [Alexander-Arnold] cannot get another yellow card; we cannot concede a second and if that happens we have a chance, and that’s what the boys obviously did.”
Nunez had been introduced as a 77th-minute replacement for Alexis Mac Allister – who was sent off against Bournemouth last weekend before his red card was rescinded – with the Reds resisting Newcastle’s efforts to kill the game off, twice with the help of the woodwork.
The £85million Uruguay international endured a difficult first year on Merseyside, but he took his latest chance with both hands.
Klopp said of Nunez: “Everything will be fine, it is just maybe it had to be like this. If he hadn’t been that angry and started the game today, he wouldn’t have scored in the last six minutes or whatever.
“Let’s take it like that.”
As the game reached the 80-minute mark, the Magpies looked to be heading for victory courtesy of former Everton man Anthony Gordon’s 25th-minute strike, with Van Dijk having departed prematurely shortly afterwards, sent off for felling Alexander Isak on his way to goal.
Klopp said: “I don’t think it is a red card. There’s pretty much no contact, very little, but what can I say? The decision is like this and I cannot change it.
“Would I whistle in a training game? Definitely not, but there are reasons why I am not a ref.”
📺 The thoughts of Eddie Howe following this afternoon's defeat at St. James' Park.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) August 27, 2023
However, Nunez pounced on an uncharacteristic error by Sven Botman to level with nine minutes remaining and then repeated the dose in stoppage time from Mo Salah’s through-ball to clinch victory.
Magpies boss Eddie Howe, who had earlier seen Alisson Becker pull off a spectacular save to turn Miguel Almiron’s shot on to the crossbar before the Paraguay international later fired against a post, admitted his team had been made to pay for not being ruthless enough.
Howe said: “I thought we played really well today. The opening stages of the game can’t be forgotten by me in regards to the team’s performance and reflection on how the game went. I thought we were excellent, individual performances were really strong.
“The sending-off almost harms us, really, in the match, although the chances were there for us to kill the game and I think the second goal changes everything.
“We didn’t get it and when Nunez comes on, they’re looking for one moment – and they didn’t just get one, they get two and they took them.”