In his first match since Marcelo Bielsa took over as Uruguay national team coach, Liverpool’s Darwin Núñez continued his impressive club form, showcasing his brilliance with two assists in the early hours of Saturday morning.
With the former Leeds United manager in the dugout, Los Charrúas got their World Cup qualifying campaign under way in Montevideo with a 3-1 win over Chile in which Núñez started as the main striker.
Prior to the international break, Bielsa, who took the helm in May, had sought individual sessions with the Liverpool striker before their first meeting.
Núñez explained that Bielsa had been in contact via Zoom and “pointed out areas where he believes I can improve”.
“He showed me some of my games and corrected some things. He tells me to run behind the second centre-back so they lose my position. It was a very good talk. He seemed like a good guy to me and a serious guy.”
Clearly, the Liverpool (and now Uruguay) number nine is set for a big role with the national team, with both Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani omitted from the most recent squad. And it seems Bielsa’s faith is paying off.
A big impact
The 24-year-old put in a remarkable performance against Chile, playing a pivotal role in Uruguay’s attacking play before his substitution in the second half, contributing two assists – both of which were impressive.
The first, in the 38th minute, involved a swift give-and-go inside the penalty area, resulting in Nicolás de la Cruz finding the back of the net.
The second, which came with 20 minutes to go, saw him deliver a precise cutback from the left-hand side for De la Cruz’s second goal of the night.
Throughout the match, Núñez had six shots on goal, with Chile goalkeeper Brayan Cortés thwarting him twice.
He also successfully completed all three of his attempted dribbles, the highest in the match, and won five of his six ground duels.