Joachim Andersen's five-card trick that caused Darwin Nunez's red card

·5-min read
Revealed: Joachim Andersen's five-step guide to rattling Darwin Nunez - GETTY IMAGES
Revealed: Joachim Andersen's five-step guide to rattling Darwin Nunez - GETTY IMAGES

Within the space of a couple of tussles at Anfield, it became clear that Joachim Andersen was under the skin of Darwin Nunez.

When a striker arrives in English football for £85million, they automatically become a target and Andersen had the Uruguayan in his sights. What followed was a 57-minute blueprint for every centre-half in the Premier League to copy when it comes to dealing with Nunez, whose patience finally snapped when he butted Andersen in the face and earned a red card.

In the hours after the dust had settled on the 1-1 draw at Anfield, a video was circulating on social media breaking down Andersen's performance against Nunez, which could serve as a textbook for the defensive dark arts.

1. A sly shove

Andersen knew that Nunez's physicality was a serious challenge but was determined not to be cowed. Early on, as the striker turned his body in an effort to show for the ball, Andersen planted two hands in his back and gave him a gentle shove - not enough to warrant an intervention from the referee, but enough to let Nunez know that he was in for a game, and to put him off balance.

Joachim Andersen shoves Darwin Nunez - Sky Sports
Joachim Andersen shoves Darwin Nunez - Sky Sports

2. An exchange of words

Nunez did not react to that but was presumably conscious that he was in for a game. Shortly after, Nunez goes to receive the ball at the corner of the Palace area. He throws a quick glance over his shoulder to see where Andersen is, but as soon as his back is turned, the Dane rushes towards him and places his hands on his back as Nunez receives the ball to feet.

Joachim Andersen up against Darwin Nunez - Sky Sports
Joachim Andersen up against Darwin Nunez - Sky Sports

Again, the contact is not strong enough to justify a penalty claim, even if Nunez did turn imploringly towards referee  Paul Tierney. As Palace clear the ball, Andersen offers the prostrate Nunez a few choice words, with the striker quickly getting to his feet and chasing after his marker and twice yelling at him in riposte. Andersen is starting to get in his head.

Andersen and Nunez - Sky Sports
Andersen and Nunez - Sky Sports

3. Nunez's temper frays

The third clash sees Andersen, sticking tight to Nunez around the centre-circle, give the striker a small shoulder-barge as Nunez tries to free himself to receive a pass from midfield.

Andersen and Nunez - Sky Sports
Andersen and Nunez - Sky Sports

He is unbalanced, and while he tries to launch a second run, he has become sufficiently thrown for Andersen to eventually intercept the ball with ease.

Andersen and Nunez - Sky Sports
Andersen and Nunez - Sky Sports

Nunez, now visibly agitated, follows through with a lunge on Andersen in an effort to win back possession and duly concedes a foul. As Andersen lies on the floor, Nunez gently slaps him on the back - ostensibly as a conciliatory gesture, although hard enough to suggest that the red mist is beginning to descend.

Nunez and Andersen in action - Sky Sports
Nunez and Andersen in action - Sky Sports

4. A lucky escape

This incident was barely noticed at the time but could have yielded an even earlier red card for Nunez.

Andersen is once again in irritatingly close proximity to him, and after placing one hand on his back, then commits to a full-on grapple as Nunez tries to break free to make his run in behind. The striker is so incensed he flings out an arm in an effort to swat him off, like a toddler resisting the attentions of an annoyed parent.

Nunez and Anderson - Sky Sports
Nunez and Anderson - Sky Sports

Shortly after, there is another coming together which sees Nunez barge into Andersen with his chest, prompting the Liverpool player to spread his arms in exasperation, presumably at Tierney.

Nunez Andersen - Sky Sports
Nunez Andersen - Sky Sports

5. One final indignity

By now, Nunez is beginning to look increasingly forlorn as he realises that he is getting nothing out of his marker.

A ball slid down Palace's left-hand channel for Nunez to chase should be ideal fodder for a player of his pace and strength, but Andersen's muscular approach is once again far too much for him. As the pair come together just inside the area, Andersen leans on Nunez and sends him tumbling to the turf, sparking another desperate penalty appeal as the defender completes his clearance.

Nunez and Andersen - Sky Sports
Nunez and Andersen - Sky Sports

The next time the pair's paths cross seriously, Nunez snaps and gets himself dismissed - but what has happened in the build-up makes that seem more like an inevitability than an aberration.

Andersen's performance underlined what a bargain Palace secured last summer when the hard work of sporting director Dougie Freedman paid off in the transfer market. After catching the eye on loan at Fulham, the centre-back was on the shortlist of Tottenham and Manchester United and would have likely moved to one of them in normal circumstances.

With the post-Covid market putting cash-rich clubs in the position to land their No1 targets, it allowed Palace to pounce. They had shown interest in signing him from Lyon and those in for him landed Cristian Romero (Spurs) and Raphael Varane (United).

Last season Andersen impressed with his long passing, with the ball speared from right to left flank becoming a feature of his game. He is among the best in the Premier League for accurate long passes.

But having the dark arts in his repertoire is another feature of his game that helped Palace finish 12th last season in Patrick Vieira’s first campaign as manager and his battle with Nunez at Anfield showcased that.

The final fortnight of the summer transfer window will see clubs go for centre-backs. There is a shortage in that position and fees are going up for the likes of Wesley Fofana. Chelsea, Leicester City and West Ham are among those looking. All of them must regret not signing Andersen when they had the chance.