Luis Diaz came off the bench to salvage a point for Liverpool with a stoppage-time goal at Luton in his first match since his parents were kidnapped in Colombia.
Diaz’s father remains missing, and the forward lifted his shirt to show a message of “freedom for papa” after heading in Harvey Elliott’s cross five minutes into added time.
He later issued a statement calling for those holding his father to release him “immediately”.
The 26-year-old former Porto player had last featured in a Liverpool squad 10 days ago, but manager Jurgen Klopp said before this match that Diaz “wanted to be part of the team”.
His goal was a poignant and remarkable conclusion to a contest in which Luton had appeared on course for a deserved first league win of the season at Kenilworth Road and a first victory over the Reds since 1991.
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Substitute Tahith Chong sparked wild celebrations among the home fans, who were eyeing a famous result after he steered in Issa Kabore’s cross at the climax of a superb counter-attack with 10 minutes of the regulation 90 remaining.
Until Diaz denied Luton the win, Rob Edwards’ well organised and athletic side frustrated Liverpool, for whom Darwin Nunez had a day to forget in front of goal.
The Uruguay forward went closest to breaking the deadlock with a dipping first-half shot that clipped the Hatters’ crossbar. He was unable to convert several other opportunities and glaringly blazed over after Mohamed Salah nodded the ball to him in the six-yard box.
The result leaves Klopp’s side third in the table, three points behind leaders Manchester City, while Luton have climbed out of the bottom three to 17th due to their superior goal difference over Bournemouth.
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Luton put Liverpool off their stride
Liverpool arrived in Bedfordshire searching for their fifth consecutive win in all competitions, but only Diaz’s late intervention spared them an embarrassing defeat against their unfancied opponents.
While Liverpool’s summer outlay on players was around £150m, Luton spent in the region of £20m reinforcing their squad after completing a lengthy journey back to the English top flight.
Relegated from the First Division the season before the Premier League was founded in 1992, they went on to spend five years as a non-league club.
However, there was little to choose between the sides at times, with Luton’s greater endeavour nullifying their opponents’ obvious quality on the ball.
The Reds enjoyed plenty of possession and had 24 shots, but only six were on target and they appeared short of inspiration and efficiency in the final third until Elliott was introduced.
Had Diogo Jota stroked in an early chance it may have altered the complexion of the match, but he saw his hurried effort saved at the near post by Thomas Kaminski.
Only three of Nunez’s nine efforts were on target, while Cody Gakpo flicked wide from another Elliott delivery from the right.
Klopp will also be concerned by the way Luton carved out openings, with Trent Alexander-Arnold struggling to contain Republic of Ireland winger Chiedozie Ogbene.
Ogbene surged past the England full-back during the first half to tee up Kabore and ghosted away from him and Ibrahima Konate in the second period to cut the ball back to Carlton Morris, who was denied by the onrushing Alisson.
The Brazilian keeper was unable to prevent Chong from finishing a move that started with a Liverpool corner, but Diaz was on hand to salvage a point for the Reds despite the ordeal he and his family are going through.
Player of the match
with an average of 7.84
Squad number14Player nameChong
Squad number7Player nameOgbene
Squad number6Player nameBarkley
Squad number24Player nameKaminski
Squad number2Player nameOsho
Squad number12Player nameKaboré
Squad number13Player nameNakamba
Squad number45Player nameDoughty
Squad number19Player nameBrown
Squad number9Player nameMorris
Squad number30Player nameTownsend
Squad number15Player nameMengi
Squad number11Player nameAdebayo
Squad number4Player nameLockyer
Squad number7Player nameDíaz
Squad number1Player nameAlisson
Squad number4Player namevan Dijk
Squad number19Player nameElliott
Squad number5Player nameKonaté
Squad number38Player nameGravenberch
Squad number66Player nameAlexander-Arnold
Squad number8Player nameSzoboszlai
Squad number10Player nameMac Allister
Squad number2Player nameGomez
Squad number20Player nameDiogo Jota
Squad number11Player nameMohamed Salah
Squad number9Player nameNúñez
Squad number21Player nameTsimikas
Squad number18Player nameGakpo
- 13NakambaBooked at 44mins
- 30TownsendSubstituted forChongat 61′minutes
- 7OgbeneSubstituted forBrownat 79′minutes
- 9MorrisSubstituted forAdebayoat 75′minutes
- 4van Dijk
- 2GomezSubstituted forTsimikasat 67′minutes
- 38GravenberchSubstituted forDíazat 83′minutes
- 10Mac AllisterBooked at 54mins
- 8SzoboszlaiSubstituted forElliottat 66′minutes
- 20JotaSubstituted forGakpoat 66′minutes
- Andy Madley
Match ends, Luton Town 1, Liverpool 1.
Second Half ends, Luton Town 1, Liverpool 1.
Attempt saved. Issa Kaboré (Luton Town) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Hand ball by Tahith Chong (Luton Town).
Foul by Luis Díaz (Liverpool).
Tahith Chong (Luton Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Luton Town 1, Liverpool 1. Luis Díaz (Liverpool) with an attempt from the centre of the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Harvey Elliott with a cross.
Offside, Luton Town. Jacob Brown tries a through ball, but Elijah Adebayo is caught offside.
Corner, Luton Town. Conceded by Alexis Mac Allister.
Corner, Luton Town. Conceded by Virgil van Dijk.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match because of an injury Issa Kaboré (Luton Town).
Foul by Kostas Tsimikas (Liverpool).
Issa Kaboré (Luton Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Ibrahima Konaté (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Kostas Tsimikas with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Issa Kaboré.
Darwin Núñez (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Ross Barkley (Luton Town).
Foul by Ibrahima Konaté (Liverpool).
Jacob Brown (Luton Town) wins a free kick on the left wing.
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