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Darwin Núñez staves off Bournemouth fightback as Liverpool ride out storm

As Jürgen Klopp strapped in for his post-match press conference, Darwin Núñez’s sublime strike which steered Liverpool through to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals where they host West Ham, fresh in his mind, he glanced up at the televisions screens at the back of the room showing the tail-end of Manchester United’s home defeat to Newcastle. “Oooh,” Klopp said, pulling a face as he digested the 3-0 scoreline. Which explains his delight at Liverpool, nine-time winners of the competition, progressing amid filthy conditions.

Midway through the first half, with his snood practically concealing his face in the Liverpool dugout, it was hard to believe Núñez was braced for battle. But Núñez entered on the hour and 10 minutes later registered a magnificent winner to earn a spot in the last eight. Justin Kluivert cancelled out Cody Gakpo’s first-half strike with a simple finish of his own but Núñez’s solo effort was worthy of settling any game.

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The swirling wind and rain of Storm Ciarán put paid to Liverpool’s flight home to Merseyside, leaving Klopp and his players to return home via bus. Virgil van Dijk, an unused substitute, high-fived Núñez before he saluted the away end and the weather did not stop Klopp from running over to the travelling supporters to embark on his trademark fist-pump celebration. “It was clear it would be a real storm, windy,” Klopp said. “But it’s really different to play in it. It was really difficult for both teams. Now we drive home, long trip – it was always going to be – but going into the next round feels much better.”

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Mohamed Salah is usually spared these kinds of tests but captained the team on just his fourth Liverpool start in this competition. Dominik Szoboszlai and Kostas Tsimikas were the only other players in the starting lineup who also began the victory against Nottingham Forest last time out. Jarell Quansah, the 20-year-old who spent the second half of last season on loan at third-tier Bristol Rovers, impressed again at centre-back alongside Joël Matip, displaying poise and an eye for a pass.

Justin Kluivert makes it 1-1 midway through the second halfJustin Kluivert makes it 1-1 midway through the second half. Photograph: Robin Jones/AFC Bournemouth/Getty Images

Bournemouth arguably had the better first-half chances before Liverpool struck through Gakpo. Adam Smith, the Bournemouth captain, got a crucial touch to the ball to prevent Szoboszlai from getting a shot away as he wound up his right foot to meet Salah’s flicked pass but Bournemouth conceded from the subsequent corner. Illia Zabarnyi’s headed clearance fell to Harvey Elliott, whose initial shot, which cannoned off Gakpo, was instinctively repelled by the Bournemouth goalkeeper Ionut Radu. Gakpo made no mistake with the rebound, tucking home from close range.

Joe Gomez found joy on the overlap but he had to be alert at the other end to prevent Bournemouth levelling early in the second half. Alex Scott, the 20-year-old signed from Bristol City in the summer, whipped in an in-swinging corner that spun towards the back post and would have crept in had Gomez not headed off the line. Klopp made a triple change on the hour, introducing Núñez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alexis Mac Allister. Scott’s delivery from corners was dangerous and when he tried the same tactic as a few minutes earlier Bournemouth took advantage of some slack marking. Scott curled the ball high towards the back post and an unmarked Kluivert headed in from a yard out.

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There was a reason Klopp introduced the cavalry. Núñez appeared in a harmless position after he ended up way out on the left flank after failing to trap a wonderful first-time Alexander-Arnold pass. But from there Núñez moseyed towards Chris Mepham before stepping inside on to his right foot and dispatching a beautiful strike over Radu and into the far corner.

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“They finished with most of their starting XI and had to push really hard to beat us,” said Andoni Iraola, the deflated Bournemouth manager.