‘A moment that could define Liverpool’s season’

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May 17, 2021
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    Match of the Day 2 analysis

    I thought I'd seen it all this season, and then this happens.

    Alisson's injury-time winner against West Brom was an absolutely monumental moment, and it could end up defining Liverpool's entire campaign.

    The past nine months have felt like one unexpected setback after another for the Reds, from their run of injuries to their strange loss of form at Anfield and the inconsistency that undermined their Premier League title defence.

    Finally, though, something positive has happened for them – and in such an amazing way.

    'What a moment it was for Alisson too'

    Liverpool needed a win on Sunday to keep their top-four hopes in their own hands but they had come up against a fantastically well-organised West Brom team at The Hawthorns.

    Sunday won't go down in Premier League history because of how well the Baggies played but, considering they had already been relegated, they deserve great credit for their attitude and performance.

    Fans of Leicester and Chelsea, Liverpool's rivals for a Champions League place, will have been willing West Brom to hold out to the final whistle, but even in defeat you cannot do anything but applaud their efforts.

    At 1-1, Jurgen Klopp's side huffed and puffed, made changes and tried every way of forcing a winner. Nothing worked, until their goalkeeper came up for a corner right at the end to get such a vital goal.

    West Brom 1-2 Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp delighted by goalkeeper Alisson's winning goal

    What a moment Alisson's goal was for him too, because he has had a challenging season in so many ways.

    The Brazilian has been wonderful since he joined from Roma in 2018, and is one of the major reasons Liverpool won the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League in 2020.

    By his own high standards, his performances in the past few months have been inconsistent, but he has had a lot to deal with off the pitch, with the death of his father earlier this year.

    You could see the emotion in him when he spoke about that afterwards, and maybe today his old man was looking down on him.

    And what a header it was for his goal, by the way. Two of the best target men in Premier League history, Duncan Ferguson and Alan Shearer, would both have been proud of that finish.

    I don't blame the West Brom defenders for not picking him up, because why would you? Keepers are a nuisance when they come up like that, but you never think they are going to score.

    The only goalkeeper goal I can think of that was more important was the one by Jimmy Glass that kept Carlisle in the Football League in 1999.

    Who would have thought we would ever mention Glass and Alisson in the same sentence? But in a bizarre Premier League season that has been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic, this is another amazing story that will be remembered for many years.

    'A courageous corner by Alexander-Arnold'

    'It's a disgrace' – Allardyce anger at officials

    Liverpool had already needed a bit of luck to go their way on Sunday, with the free-kick that led to their equaliser, then the VAR decision that saw a potential second West Brom goal ruled out.

    But they kept going at 1-1, kept putting everything in and piled on the pressure as they pushed for the winner.

    It looked as if it would elude them, when they missed three good chances in the final 15 minutes of normal time, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Georginio Wijnaldum firing over and Thiago Alcantara forcing a great save from Sam Johnstone.

    I thought Alexander-Arnold was superb again. He is probably Liverpool's most creative player right now, which is a little bit of a concern, but he is finishing the season really strongly.

    This was another phenomenal performance on his part, and nearly everything good that Liverpool produced came from him.

    That included his corner for the winner. The technique and cool head he needed to put in that delivery for Alisson in the last minute of injury-time says a hell of a lot about his ability and his mental strength.

    I've taken a lot of corners in my time and it's not as easy as you think when you know it's the last minute, and it is down to you to put in a good delivery for the team under that sort of pressure.

    Alexander-Arnold stepped up, and made no mistake. Alisson put it away in absolutely stunning fashion, but Alexander-Arnold makes it with the whip and pace he puts on the ball.

    That takes a lot of courage in the circumstances, because the easy option is to just play it safe and float the ball in. It was typical of Alexander-Arnold to try what he did, and he got his reward.

    'I'd be amazed if they mess it up from here'

    Snapshot of 3rd to 8th in the Premier League: 3rd Leicester, 4th Chelsea, 5th Liverpool, 6th Tottenham, 7th West Ham & 8th EvertonChampions Manchester City and second-placed Manchester United are already sure of a top-four finish but five teams still have a chance of finishing in third or fourth. Everton can no longer make it, however, following Sunday's defeat by Sheffield United

    If Liverpool had dropped points on Sunday it would have been really difficult to come back from that, going into the last two games of the season needing results elsewhere to go their way for them to make the top four.

    The mood in the camp would have been a bit flat, and they would have had to try to motivate themselves for Wednesday night and a tough trip to Burnley.

    Instead, they have got tremendous momentum to take into their final fixtures.

    The race for the top four – remaining fixtures
    Leicester Chelsea Liverpool Tottenham West Ham
    Chelsea (a) Leicester (h) Burnley (a) Aston Villa (h) West Brom (a)
    Tottenham (h) Aston Villa (a) C Palace (h) Leicester (a) Southampton (h)

    When you win any game in the last minute, there is euphoria in the dressing room afterwards.

    Here, you can add in what it meant and the man who scored it. Everyone will be buzzing, and it will be a completely different build-up to the Burnley game now.

    Liverpool still have work to do to secure a top-four finish, but I would be amazed if they mess it up from here.

    Danny Murphy was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

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