Being among teammate feel like a ‘afe place’ for Lui Diaz – Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk says Liverpool’s players have created a “safe place” for Luis Diaz in the days since his father was kidnapped in Colombia.

The 26-year-old came off the bench in the 83rd minute of the team’s 1-1 draw with Luton on Sunday and scored a dramatic equaliser deep into added time.

AdvertisementIt was his first appearance since his father, Luis Manuel Diaz, was abducted in the town of Barrancas on October 28th.

Luis Diaz heads in Liverpool’s leveller against Luton (Zac Goodwin/PA).The striker was absent for Liverpool’s wins over Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth but marked a sensational return to action by heading in Harvey Elliott’s cross five minutes into stoppage time at Kenilworth Road.

The group responsible for the abduction, the National Liberation Army, has asked for “security guarantees” in exchange for his father’s release.

Following the game against Luton, Van Dijk said: “He’s been training with us, knowing that it’s so fresh, what’s going on. He feels like being with us is a safe place, so it helps him.

“We’re here for him. We mentioned it last week, it’s an absolutely horrible situation. Hopefully there will be a solution. We’ll be here for him and everybody should support him. Hopefully it will be sorted as soon as possible.”

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Liverpool had looked set to fall to a shock defeat before Diaz’s late intervention, falling behind 10 minutes from time to a goal by Luton substitute Tahith Chong.

“He’s still disappointed because he also wanted to win,” said Van Dijk. “There’s a lot of emotions in his head. It must have been (meant to be) that he should have scored. I’m happy for him, but hopefully we can get his father back as soon as possible.

“You can’t imagine it, that’s the scary part. The only thing we can do is hope they will find him safe and sound and they get him back to his family.

“When it happened it was a shock to everyone. We spoke about it and it should give us extra motivation. He doesn’t want us to suffer from what he’s going through, he wants us to take fuel from it.”

In front of a raucous home support, the visitors struggled to break down Luton for long periods as they sought the win that would have put them second in the Premier League.

Darwin Nunez in particular was guilty of wasteful finishing when chances came, hitting the bar in the first half before conspiring to balloon an effort over from three yards out after the break.

Focus turns to Thursday, VirgilvDijk 👊 pic./JmhlfW4Ujd— Liverpool FC (LFC)November 6, 2023“I don’t think it was down to the atmosphere,” said Van Dijk. “We had the first chance after half-an-hour. Score that one and it’s a completely different game.

“We didn’t and then they need one opportunity. Their results here this season have been very small margins. That’s down to how they play, they defend compact and solid.

“I respect that, but we could have made it a lot easier.”