Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp let his expensive summer signing Darwin Nunez sleep on the moment of wild indiscipline that saw him leave his home Premier League debut early and in disgrace.
Nunez, who joined Liverpool in a £64 million deal from Benfica, will have a sleepless night before facing Klopp after making the worst possible debut at Anfield.
The Uruguayan has made a strong start to the season with goals in the Community Shield victory over Manchester City and the opening Premier League draw at Fulham, but this incident, which resulted in his dismissal, revealed a side of his character that will pique the interest of more mischievous Premier League defenders and ensure Klopp must deliver some hard truths ahead of his upcoming three-match ban.
If Nunez can learn anything from his humiliation, it is that it is better to learn your lessons early in the Premier League, and the 23-year-old certainly learned a harsh one here.
Yes, there was some ‘argy-bargy’ with Palace defender Joachim Andersen, but Nunez’s reaction was mindless – a headbutt that sent his opponent to the ground and referee Paul Tierney reaching for his red card.
It rules Nunez out of Liverpool’s trip to Manchester United next Monday for starters, which is even more costly given Klopp’s injury woes. He will also be unavailable for home games against Bournemouth and Newcastle United.
Nunez had worked tirelessly but appeared to be trying a little too hard to make a big impression, volleying one good chance over at the far post and bundling another against an upright in the final seconds of the first half.
There is no doubt that the graphic depiction of a short fuse will put Nunez’s temperament to the test right now, but this chastening evening will undoubtedly serve as the foundation for an important learning experience.
Nunez has big shoes to fill after Sadio Mane left, but Klopp is aware of the pressures and is more likely to use the arm around the shoulder rather than the big stick to handle his new striker, who looked exhausted as he made his way to the dressing room.
Klopp, to his credit, made no attempt to mount a defense or make excuses for Nunez. It was a straightforward case.
Liverpool deserved the point Luis Diaz’s brilliant equalizer gave them, a display of resilience against a numerical disadvantage, but Palace will feel they earned it as well.
At Anfield, there was a sense of anticlimax as the final whistle blew, with anxious Liverpool fans already pointing out Manchester City’s four-point lead after only two games as they exited.
Of course, talking about this in the long term after only two games of the Premier League season is absurd, but City has set such a high bar and looked so imperious since the addition of Erling Haaland that such concern is understandable.
City have put their opponents under so much pressure from the start that they know they can’t afford too many slip-ups from the start – and Liverpool have had two in two games.
It is, however, early days, and Klopp will be hoping that the list of key player injuries shortens so that Liverpool can regain their familiar, unstoppable stride.
And Liverpool can take heart from 19-year-old Harvey Elliott’s outstanding performance, mature beyond his years, prompting, probing, always demanding the ball, and fully deserving of the standing ovation he received when he was substituted.
Diaz was the goal scorer as well as much more. Following Nunez’s dismissal, he took the initiative, scoring a brilliant equalizer four minutes later, making a slalom run past Palace defenders from the left flank before firing home a 20-yard finish.
Liverpool were not at their best, and their first two games were unremarkable.
They’ll be hoping that the sight of the Manchester United team they thrashed twice will provide motivation at Old Trafford next Monday, even without Nunez.