Jürgen Klopp praises forwards and Darwin’s evolution in ‘surprise setup’

Jürgen Klopp praised Darwin Núñez and Liverpool’s new-look attack as his team comfortably eclipsed Rangers to strengthen their Champions League qualification hopes at Anfield.

Liverpool’s victory arrived courtesy of a Trent Alexander-Arnold free‑kick plus a Mohamed Salah penalty but it was the understanding between a reshaped forward line that enabled Klopp’s team to dominate Rangers, who remain without a point and a goal on their return to the Champions League stage.

Related: Alexander-Arnold and Salah fire Liverpool to victory against Rangers

Núñez, making his first European start for Liverpool and only his third in total, was denied several times by the veteran Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor but impressed throughout. Klopp insisted it is only a matter of time before the Uruguay international is rewarded with his first goal at Anfield.

The Liverpool manager said: “The way the boys up front moved together was extremely, extremely good, especially for only one session working on it. And that was a low‑intensity session because of their recent workload. We never did it before. You saw how good a striker Darwin is to be constantly in those situations. Everybody saw tonight that this will happen. All good.

“I think our setup was the bigger surprise tonight. We surprised ourselves and these situations can then happen. It was difficult to defend. Diogo Jota moved particularly well between the lines. It was a difficult game and occasion for Rangers but we respect them a lot. We don’t think we are halfway through. Next week will be different. It was 2-0, a top game, good result, let’s go from there.”

Alexander-Arnold’s goal was a timely reminder of his attacking quality following recent criticism of his defending and the doubt over his England place at the World Cup.

Darwin Núñez (left) at Anfield
Darwin Núñez came in for praise from Jürgen Klopp. Photograph: Paul Greenwood/Shutterstock

“He played a good game, especially defensively, and scored a wonderful goal,” Klopp said. “Trent didn’t have a defensive problem, we had a defensive problem. We were not in the perfect moment so we had to adjust. It was a wonderful goal. It’s a long time since he scored a free-kick so I am happy he had that still in his locker.”

Rangers’ manager, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, admitted Liverpool were on a different level and his team have to improve when the teams meet again at Ibrox next week. “I think we improved in the second half but the level we face is very high,” he said. “Don’t forget the level of the opposition. Before the game everybody said Liverpool was out of form but you can see the quality. The gap is obvious.

“We are competing against one of the best sides in Europe. I think we competed really well. We will learn from this game and we should take those experiences into the next game and the league.”