Liverpool 3 West Ham 1
The Uruguay international scored in back-to-back games for the first time since February as Jurgen Klopp’s side made it five successive Premier League wins to move into outright second spot, behind champions Manchester City, with Arsenal and Tottenham drawing at the Emirates.
Captain Virgil van Dijk had spoken of the 24-year-old turning his potential into quality after the midweek Europa League win over LASK, in which Nunez scored a penalty but could have had a couple of others.
His rasping 60th-minute volley from an exquisite Alexis Mac Allister lofted pass restored their lead after Jarrod Bowen’s diving header in the first half had cancelled out Mohamed Salah’s penalty, his 12 goal in his last 13 appearances at Anfield.
Substitute Diogo Jota made the points safe late on as Liverpool scored at least three goals in their opening three home league games for only the second time in the last 43 years.
But it was Nunez who caught the eye with his improving integration into a team which for so long played with a false nine in Roberto Firmino.
His holdup play gets better and, after that helped Liverpool take the lead in Austria in midweek, he was at it again in the build-up to Salah’s penalty.
He launched a rapid counter-attack on the left after holding up the ball on the halfway line before releasing Luis Diaz and then charging 60 yards into the area in an attempt to get on the end of the return pass.
He failed to do so but Salah was following up behind him and, having nicked it past Nayef Aguerd, he was tripped by the West Ham centre-back, who looked suitably sheepish having given away such a soft spot-kick.
West Ham could have been two goals up by that point as Alisson had to scramble low to his right to keep out a Tomas Soucek header and was then relieved to see Michail Antonio wastefully direct a header wide from 10 yards.
From another counter-attack Mac Allister dragged a shot wide and Salah miscued a shot from Van Dijk’s diagonal pass but almost inadvertently found Nunez.
Liverpool were threatening to take the game away from the visitors, who have won only once at Anfield in 50 visits, and, had Salah slotted home after Mac Allister, Diaz and Dominik Szoboszlai combined, it would have been their goal of the season so far.
But David Moyes’ side are made of stern stuff, with their physical approach often infuriating the majority of those at Anfield, and when Soucek’s scuffed shot was deflected wide it showed danger was still present.
They equalised three minutes from half-time from a goal which came almost out of nothing. Bowen won the initial header from an aimless aerial ball and Vladimir Coufal swung in a cross which the Hammers forward dived low in front of Van Dijk to direct inside the far post.
A delightful Szoboszlai chip over the top saw Curtis Jones volley home only to be denied by the offside flag while another counter-attack saw Salah slide in Nunez, whose angled shot was claimed at the second attempt by Alphonse Areola.
After the break West Ham reduced the game to a level Liverpool were uncomfortable with but the hosts still created chances, Nunez’s snapshot going wide after Salah managed to find space between two markers to pick him out 12 yards out.
It was the sighter the Kop’s new cult hero needed as he then lashed home Mac Allister’s delicate 15-yard chip which dropped invitingly somewhere near the penalty spot.
Jones’ deflected shot was acrobatically tipped over by Areola, who then saved at the feet of Diaz, before Jota extended Moyes’ win-less career run at Anfield to 20 visits by stabbing home from close range after Van Dijk’s knock-down from an 85th-minute corner.
Chelsea 0 Aston Villa 1
Chelsea went down to a third Premier League defeat of the season as Aston Villa won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge after Malo Gusto was shown a second-half red card.
Villa broke away and scored through Ollie Watkins 17 minutes from the end, and though the 10 men laboured gainfully to get back into the game their goalless run in the league under Mauricio Pochettino stretched to three matches as they remained 14th.
Chelsea were on top and looking far the likelier to score when a pitchside VAR decision just before the hour mark turned proceedings against them. Gusto had slid in on Lucas Digne and caught the defender on the ankle, and a yellow card was quickly upgraded to red for dangerous play.
Pochettino’s side continued to attack in numbers and it would prove their undoing, Watkins outfoxing Levi Colwill to score on the rebound after the 10 men had poured forward, as Villa won for the second season running in front of an audibly frustrated home support in west London.
Chelsea opened with a greater attacking purpose than they had shown in recent scoreless outings against Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth. After four minutes, Moises Caicedo took a chance and drilled low and hard from distance into the gloves of Emiliano Martinez, a comfortable enough save for Villa’s goalkeeper but an early show of intent from the home side.
Raheem Sterling and Mykhailo Mudryk were heavily involved during the opening 15 minutes, finding space without the ball and attacking Villa down either flank when in possession. Nicolas Jackson too showed pace and power through the middle as Chelsea threatened from all angles.
But it was Villa, increasingly stretched at the back, who nearly took the lead and in the most spectacular fashion after 20 minutes. Douglas Luiz’s corner was only partially cleared, and the ball dropped out of the air to the waiting Digne who whacked an audacious looping volley from all of 35 yards that Robert Sanchez brilliantly tipped over the bar.
Chelsea had not scored in the league since August but here they played through Villa with a confidence that belied their modest goal return of five under Pochettino.
Mudryk tucked a superb ball in behind the defence for Jackson to run on to, the striker’s cunning to find space matching the brilliance of his teammate’s vision. Jackson went for the near post and Martinez turned it behind, but it was as fine an attacking move as Stamford Bridge had witnessed this season.
Enzo Fernandez should have broken the deadlock when he shot first time from Gusto’s pullback, the Argentinian failing to make the best of a good opening after Gusto had stretched every sinew keeping the ball in play.
Sanchez saved acrobatically from Nicolo Zaniolo’s volley as Villa came on strong late in the half. At the other end Mudryk capped a lively first period when he raced away from Matty Cash and zipped the ball low across goal only to find that nobody in blue had gambled.
Sterling began the second period as he had ended the first, racing away from Villa down the right and trying to tuck the ball inside Martinez’s near post. The goalkeeper spread himself well to smother, but Chelsea’s threat was growing.
Then came a moment to turn to the tide of that pressure. Gusto’s challenge on Digne was late and caught the Villa defender on the ankle. The initial decision was yellow card, but a pitchside VAR review saw it upgraded to a red as boos rained down on the referee from home fans.
The sending off did not drastically alter the course of things at first, Chelsea’s pressure on Villa’s defence remained. Yet it was ultimately to be their undoing.
There seemed to be little on when Villa won the ball back high in the Chelsea half. One ball released Moussa Diaby who dashed into the space left by Gusto’s departure, and in a flash he fed Watkins.
Colwill seemed to have things under control when he slid to block Watkins’ initial shot, but before he could recover and clear the Villa striker had taken up the ball and lashed his second effort past Sanchez from an angle and in off the far post.
Ben Chilwell on as a substitute missed when one-on-one with Martinez, then moments later Axel Disasi, now moved out to right-back, burst into the box and skewed horribly wide as he lashed at his shot.
Jacob Ramsey tested Sanchez when he stepped inside and curled towards the bottom corner, this time the goalkeeper finger-tipped the ball to safety.
By then, Chelsea’s attacking rhythm had been critically disrupted, and Villa saw the win out amid a chorus of discontent around Stamford Bridge.
Brighton 3 Bournemouth 1
Roberto De Zerbi’s inspired double substitution helped Brighton come from behind to sink Bournemouth 3-1.
The Seagulls trailed to Dominic Solanke’s opportunist strike but went in level at half-time thanks to a Milos Kerkez own goal.
Boss De Zerbi, who had made nine changes to his starting line-up from Thursday’s Europe League defeat by AEK Athens, sent on Ansu Fati and Kaoru Mitoma at half-time.
And the pair had an instant impact, combining for an exquisite goal just 15 seconds into the second half, with Mitoma applying the finishing touch.
Japan winger Mitoma then wrapped up the victory with a late header to leave the Cherries still winless from their first six league matches.
De Zerbi also opted to rotate his goalkeepers, replacing Jason Steele with Bart Verbruggen, but that was a move which backfired after 25 minutes.
The Dutchman hesitated on the edge of the area as he attempted to play the ball out.
Ryan Christie charged down the clearance and the ball rolled to Solanke, who chipped the stranded keeper into an empty net from 20 yards.
Brighton offered precious little for the majority of an uncharacteristically lacklustre first half until three minutes of stoppage time.
A goalmouth scramble saw Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster have efforts cleared off the line before Billy Gilmour swung the ball back into the box.
Kerkez climbed at the near post in a bid to clear the danger, only to glance the ball past goalkeeper Neto and into his own net.
De Zerbi made his double change at the break, but not even the shrewd Italian could have foreseen quite the impact the pair would have.
Bournemouth lost possession from the kick-off and Mitoma played the ball out to Barcelona loanee Fati on the left before continuing his run into the area.
Fati’s ball back in was helped on by Mahmoud Dahoud into the path of Mitoma, who sidefooted it past Neto to cap a glorious Albion move.
With Brighton now in firmly the ascendancy, Dunk headed narrowly wide from a corner before Fati failed to convert a cross from Simon Adingra.
Bournemouth went in search of an equaliser and Antoine Semenyo had a low shot well kept out by Verbruggen.
But Mitoma put Brighton further ahead when he nodded in Pervis Estupinan’s cross with 13 minutes left.
Solanke almost scrambled one back for the Cherries from close range late on but his effort was cleared off the line by Albion skipper Dunk.