LONDON (AFP) – Luis Diaz saved Liverpool from a shock defeat at Luton in a 1-1 draw on Sunday on his first appearance since his parents were kidnapped in his native Colombia.
The winger was introduced as a substitute moments after Tahith Chong had given Luton a stunning lead 10 minutes from time.
Diaz’s soaring leap and header five minutes into stoppage time denied the Hatters their first ever home win in the Premier League.
His mother was rescued within hours of her capture on October 28, but the search goes on for his father Luis Manuel Diaz.
The 26-year-old revealed a t-shirt saying “freedom for Dad” after scoring and again at full-time.
“It’s a wonderful moment but it doesn’t change the situation,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. “The most important thing is his father is released.
“It is wonderful he wanted to be here. For us a super important goal and for him very important and emotional, but that’s it.”
Diaz’s remarkable show of strength glossed over a poor performance and result for the Reds.
Liverpool spent more on each of their starting midfield trio this summer than Luton have in the transfer market since the advent of the Premier League in 1992.
Yet, Rob Edwards’ men were seconds away from one of the biggest shocks in Premier League history.
Darwin Nunez struck the crossbar early on for the visitors.
But it was a spectacular miss with the score still level at 0-0 that will haunt the Uruguayan.
Mohamed Salah should also have scored with a free header from close range 20 minutes from time.
But when the Egyptian’s effort fell to Nunez, he somehow blazed over with the goal gaping.
Instead it was Chong who opened the scoring in controversial fashion.
Liverpool were screaming for a penalty for handball against Ross Barkley at a corner as Luton broke upfield and Issa Kabore crossed for the former Manchester United winger to slot home.
Diaz was then summoned from the bench and in a fairytale ending grabbed the equaliser when he met Harvey Elliott’s cross to the back post.
There is hope that Diaz’s father will soon be released after the head of the ELN guerilla group that seized the couple acknowledged the organisation had made a “mistake”.
Liverpool missed the chance to go second in the table but edge up to third, above Arsenal on goal difference.
A point takes Luton out of the relegation zone.
Earlier, Nottingham Forest stunned Aston Villa with their first Premier League win in seven games as Ola Aina and Orel Mangala struck in a deserved 2-0 win.