Chaos as Darwin Núñez goal seals 99th-minute Liverpool win


Nicol: Titles are won with late winners like Liverpool's

Steve Nicol reacts to Liverpool's last-minute win over Nottingham Forest in the Premier League.

Darwin Núñez headed in a last-gasp winner as Premier League leaders Liverpool snatched three points with a wild 1-0 victory over relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Saturday.

Núñez's 99th-minute goal put Liverpool four points clear of second-placed Manchester City with 63 points from 27 matches -- although Pep Guardiola's side have a game in hand. The result left a shattered Forest four points above the relegation zone in 17th.

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"Most difficult game we played because of the circumstances," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. "Four games in 11 days is really tricky with the squad situation we have.

"It was super special. You could see it didn't go easy for us today in any part of the game. It's so hard. Wonderful feeling. I'm really happy. I can't ask for more than what the boys are doing."

There was bedlam after the final whistle with referee Paul Tierney surrounded by Forest's enraged coaching staff, with first-team coach Steven Reid being shown a red card. Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis also came down to the touchline to express his unhappiness and later approached Tierney.

A member of Nottingham Forest's coaching staff was sent off after the game ended.
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Liverpool dominated possession, but struggled in the final third against Forest's diligent defensive effort and the game looked destined for a draw.

Liverpool continued to press, with Forest goalkeeper Matz Sels making some terrific late stops including a brilliant diving save from a Núñez header minutes before the substitute's late heroics on Alexis Mac Allister's cross that had the Liverpool bench leaping to their feet in celebration.

"In that moment I knew it was last minute and I just had to put it in," Mac Allister said. "Darwin is such an important player for us. There is no easy game in the Premier League. Very happy, very happy."

Klopp praised Mac Allister's poise.

"The goal was set up by a guy who was the calmest on the whole pitch," he said. "He was calm. He chips the ball there. Super assist and super important goal."

- Liverpool ratings: Núñez 9/10 for match-winning heroics

Eight minutes of time added on was officially awarded by the referee, which was perhaps the cause of Forest's complaints along with unhappiness that the hosts did not get the ball back when play was stopped after Liverpool defender Ibrahima Konaté sustained a knock to the head at a Forest corner just before the goal.

Tierney blew with Forest in possession on the edge of Liverpool's area. After Konate quickly recovered, Tierney dropped the ball to Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, who then started the attack that eventually led to the goal.

"The law states that, if the referee is going to stop the game -- which he is entitled to for a head injury -- the ball has to go back to the team that has possession," said Mark Clattenburg, a former Premier League referee who has become a referee analyst at Forest.

Darwin Nunez was Liverpool's matchwinner.
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Liverpool's hectic 11 days included a league win over Luton Town, a fifth-round FA Cup win over Southampton, and a victory over Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final.

Klopp has also wrestled with an injury crisis that has sidelined key players including talisman Mohamed Salah -- who sat out again Sunday with a hamstring injury -- forcing him to plug holes with young players.

"If you'd told me 12 days ago we would win all four games I would have said no chance, it was impossible," Klopp said. "In the circumstances winning the games is ridiculous."

Substitutes Núñez and Dominik Szoboszlai returned from injury on Saturday, and their impact was immediately felt.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.