Diogo Jota gave Jurgen Klopp a timely nudge ahead Liverpool’s derby clash with Everton by scoring two and setting up the other in Portugal’s 3-0 win over Sweden.
With Cristiano Ronaldo absent, Jota stepped up to take centre stage as the current Nations League champions stayed top of Group 3 on Wednesday night.
Playing on the left side of a fluid attack, the Portuguese star set up Manchester City’s Bernado Silva for the opening goal on 21 minutes.
Jota then got on the scoresheet himself. He controlled a ball on his thigh and slotted home just before half-time.
His night got even better 18 minutes from time. Jota cut in from the left and fired home to make it three goals in just seven appearances for his country.
The 23-year-old’s other strike came last month in Portugal’s 4-1 win over Croatia.
Add in his debut goal for Liverpool in the 3-1 win over Arsenal and the new summer signing is pushing for a place against Everton on Saturday.
Jota did get a start in the champions’ last Premier game, the very forgettable 7-2 thrashing at Aston Villa.
That was due to Sadio Mane having to miss the game after testing positive for Coronavirus.
Mane is back in full training so looks all set to return to the Reds’ starting XI.
The other possible opening for Jota is in place of Roberto Firmino.
The 29-year-old is flying back late from South America so won’t have much time to prepare for the 12.30pm Saturday lunchtime kick-off against Everton.
However, the Liverpool No.9 will be flowing with confidence. Playing in a conventional centre-forward role, he scored twice to give Brazil a 5-0 win over Bolivia on Saturday.
And on Wednesday night he laid on an assist – ironically for Everton star Richarlison – to help the Samba stars beat Peru 4-2. Fabinho was an unused substitute in that game.
If Klopp wants to rest Firmino after the lengthy flight and time difference, Jota could form a three-pronged attack with Mane and Mo Salah.
Defensive duo rested ahead of Everton game
While Jota and Firmino saw plenty of action in midweek, there was a night off for Liverpool defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez.
Both stayed in the stands as England fell to a 1-0 defeat against Denmark. Gareth Southgate’s men were reduced to 10 men after Harry Maguire was sent off in the first half.
Alexander-Arnold had previously played 79 minutes against Belgium on Sunday. Gomez was a starter in the friendly against Wales last week.
Jordan Henderson came on for the final 14 minutes against Denmark to get some more useful game time having played two-thirds of the Belgium showdown.
The skipper looks set to return against Everton. He hasn’t played for Liverpool since limping off in the 2-0 win at Chelsea on September 20.
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 22 meetings with Everton in all competitions. The Toffees will hope it’s a different story this time after their flying start to the season.
They start the match in top spot while Liverpool are fifth, three points behind.