No-one could quite believe what they’d just witnessed. With Liverpool having huffed and puffed and failed to break down West Bromwich Albion, goalkeeper Alisson’s sojourn to the opposition penalty area represented one last throw of the dice, as Liverpool won a late corner.
The sight of a goalkeeper venturing forward for a corner to try and create an extra problem for the opposition is pretty familiar, but more often than not the hapless keeper simply gets in the way.
Not this time. As Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner came curling in, Alisson sprung forth like a Brazilian jack-in-the-box, guiding a pin-perfect header past West Brom stopper Sam Johnstone and into the corner of the net. Cue the euphoria.
It was an emotional moment for Alisson in what has been a challenging season for a variety of different reasons. There have been an unusual number of errors from the Brazilian number one, as Liverpool have struggled defensively since the injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, affecting their chances in the football odds. That has meant Alisson has come under greater fire than in previous campaigns, and even a goalkeeper as impervious as him is not immune from the occasional blunder.
An altogether more heart-breaking reason for Alisson’s struggles this season was the tragic death of his father in Brazil earlier this year. The coronavirus pandemic meant that he could not fly home to be with his family, a devastating situation, and makes his continued strong performances for Liverpool all the more impressive.
"I am too emotional — this last month — everything that happened with me and my family, but football is my life,” Alisson said after the game. “I have played since I remember as a human being with my father. I hope he was here to see it. I am sure he is celebrating. This was for my family and for the boys.”
The interview packed an emotional punch, and even the most hard-hearted of football fans could surely not begrudge Alisson this moment of glory after all he’s been through.
The goal had huge ramifications for Liverpool’s season. Beating Manchester United during the week had left Champions League qualification in their own hands, with favourable fixtures against West Bromwich Albion, Burnley and Crystal Palace to come. They were well fancied in the football tips, but doing things the easy way has not been Liverpool’s style this season.
It had looked like they were going to be denied the three points at The Hawthorns, and you couldn’t really say that West Brom were not good value for a draw. Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp has struggled in the past against Sam Allardyce, and it had looked like the wily old Englishman had got one over on him yet again, but no-one had reckoned with Alisson.
West Brom’s defending for that fateful corner was poor, with nobody picking up the Brazilian, and that will irk Allardyce along with refereeing decisions that he felt were unfair. But sometimes you just have to appreciate the unpredictability of football. A man who has saved Liverpool countless times by keeping the ball out of the goal, put one in the goal with the kind of finesse you’d expect from a seasoned centre forward.
In what has been an at-times dire season for Liverpool, Alisson’s headed winner in the West Midlands may well go down as one of the greatest moments in the club’s recent history.
Published by Samantha Brown