Liverpool FC

Alisson Becker sent Liverpool on road to Champions League glory with ‘absurd’ moment

Liverpool FC

It is officially Champions League Final week, and while trying to distil this campaign down into individual moments is an indulgent task, to mark the lead up to a potentially seventh Champions League title, the Echo have selected seven critical moments this season to revisit.

To start, we return to the day Alisson Becker rocked the football world.

You cannot talk about this Champions League campaign without starting at Alisson Becker’s header.

The fact the header’s technical finesse – and it was a technically finessed header – is the third, even fourth, aspect of the goal that springs immediately to mind when it is gleefully dragged up in conversations speaks to the sheer levels of this 95th-minute winner over West Bromwich Albion last May.

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For those who like their football to the nearest decimal, Alisson’s header was numerically absurd. In terms of the expected goals metric, it was worth just 0.09. The fact the club’s design team had on hand an Alisson graphic to celebrate the occasion on social media was as much a stroke of pure felicity as a subtle augur of the beast that was to come this season.

Jurgen Klopp has spoken at length about his “mentality monsters” this season and the football world has seen the breaking limits of that harrowing mentality well and truly tested. But it has also seen the forceful role momentum can play and this season’s momentum, culminating where else but a Parisian finale, can be traced back directly to Alisson’s header against the Baggies over a year ago.

The 2020-21 season was a difficult one, and despite being top of the table at Christmas, the weight of a title defence fell heavy on a squad ravaged by injury and exhaustion. Liverpool’s 68-game unbeaten streak at Anfield was cruelly sundered and the Reds lost six straight at home. As Liverpool returned to winning ways, Liverpool had the chance to build on momentum, but drawing 1-1 away to already-relegated West Brom threatened to deflate everything.

But when Alisson sprinted down the pitch to lend his services to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner, who would have guessed that it would be Alisson to hoist himself as the unlikely hero in this most unlikely of scenarios?

How many times has football seen a keeper rock up into the penalty area as the clock dwindles to nothing and a corner waits to be taken? And how many times has the keeper served as nothing more than a lumbering nuisance? Or worse, becoming social media fodder when the corner inevitably ricochets into midfield and is swept up and launched into the open goal by a quick-thinking opposition striker as he sprints back in blurry vain?

Instead, Alisson scored the game-winner to spur Liverpool forward in their hunt for Champions League football.

On a personal level, Alisson became only the sixth keeper in Premier League history to score and it would not be wrong to think that the Brazilian is riding his own incredible momentum, such is the contagion of this mentality monster Klopp has created. Alisson has arguably relished the season of his life, notching a joint-top 20 league clean sheets this season and providing his side with a reliable, unflappable presence between the sticks.

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