Liverpool were left stunned by a former Red as Taiwo Awoniyi struck to give Nottingham Forest an unlikely 1-0 victory in the Premier League.
It was a largely drab affair at the City Ground, but the stadium was lit up in the 55th minute when Awoniyi struck against his old club after Liverpool missed two big chances to go in front.
First it was Virgil van Dijk who was guilty of a big blunder, the Dutch defender heading the ball off target with the goal at his mercy from mere yards out.
Replays suggested he attempted to nod the ball towards Roberto Firmino who was running to join him in the box, but there was too much power on the pass and the ball sailed clear of the Brazilian striker and the goal.
Mohamed Salah then had a great chance to score when he found himself unmarked at the back post, only to completely miss the ball as he attempted to volley in.
And those two mistakes were duly punished by Forest just ten minutes into the second-half when Awoniyi fired home after a free-kick to get the City Ground rocking. It was Awoniyi who was fouled for the free-kick near the halfway line, with Joe Gomez perhaps lucky to get away with only a yellow card after he stopped the striker running clear through on goal – although Van Dijk was in his position across the other side of the pitch.
The free-kick was played wide right to Steve Cook who fizzed a low cross into Awoniyi – his first shot beat the outstretched Alisson before clattering the post, but the ricochet was fortunate as he reacted quickly to the follow-up to slot into the top left corner.
It was a big moment for the 25-year-old striker, personally, with the Nigerian spending six years as a Liverpool player but failing to make a single appearance in his time at Anfield.
He was sold to German side Union Berlin in 2021 for around £6.5million, and then made his return to Premier League football as Forest’s record £17m signing in the summer.
His strike against his former employers was his third of the season, following goals against West Ham and Fulham. Awoniyi coming back to haunt them was the least of Liverpool’s problems in what was a performance fit for Halloween weekend – it’s just a shame it came a week too early.
It was a painful watch for Reds fans, with the unpredictable attacking chaos of Darwin Nunez definitely missed with the striker ruled out with injury.
Van Dijk and Salah’s misses will give them nightmares, but there were further chances at the death they will surely also look back on, with the centre-back having two more efforts saved, while substitute Trent Alexander-Arnold had a late header palmed away by Dean Henderson – who ended up in the stands with supporters after the final whistle.
The defending wasn’t good either, with Gomez looking particularly shaky after he had looked so good in the 1-0 victory over Man City – a performance that may well give Gareth Southgate food for thought ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.
Only in the Premier League could the bottom side, thrashed by struggling Leicester City a few weeks ago, host one of England’s biggest teams and come away with a win.
And while Klopp would be forgiven for watching moments of the game through his hands, it was an afternoon of dreams for opposite number Steve Cooper.
A former Liverpool academy coach, the win over his old club will ease some of the pressure on him, with Forest now off the bottom of the table.