Mixed fortunes for Liverpool’s internationals as Firmino scores a classic & Keita returns from injury

22 June 2019

Roberto Firmino produced a signature no-look finish for Brazil on Saturday night, but there were mixed fortunes elsewhere for Liverpool’s internationals.


Roberto Firmino led the line for Brazil once more in their third and final Copa America group stage fixture—and helped ensure they topped Group A in style.

A 5-0 win for the Selecao against Peru secured top spot, with Venezuela taking second thanks to a victory of their own against bottom side Bolivia.

Firmino notched Brazil’s second goal of the evening after just 19 minutes—and it was classic Bobby all around: intelligent closing down, bravery, great control and composure…and a cheeky no-look finish!

The forward might have scored direct from his closing down of the goalkeeper, only for the ball to rebound back off the post, whereupon he made no mistake.

After the break, Firmino’s impact continued as he rolled in a fantastically weighted pass from a deep position, allowing marauding full-back Dani Alves to blast in the fourth.

Of course, at the other end of the pitch was Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker—who racked up his third clean sheet of the competition in succession.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, June 3, 2018: Brazil's goalkeeper Alisson Becker during an international friendly between Brazil and Croatia at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alisson has been exemplary thus far in a quiet and efficient way—and with some remarkable statistics highlighting his perfection.

His three matches have yielded not just three clean sheets, but also a 100 per cent pass completion (from 49 passes across three games) and of course 100 per cent of shots faced being saved (four on target in three games).

The 26-year-old continues to be his nation’s first choice and continues to show exactly why.

Later on Saturday evening, Naby Keita made his return from injury for Guinea in the Africa Cup of Nations.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, April 30, 2019: Liverpool's Naby Keita during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg match between FC Barcelona and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

The midfielder had not played since departing injured against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final first leg, and despite concerns over his fitness, his team called upon him in dire need.

Trailing to Madagascar in their opening group game, Keita entered after an hour of play with his team 2-1 down—and within minutes they were level.

As might be expected, Keita’s impact was limited after a spell out, but two moments of note saw him play a fantastic through pass to fashion a shooting chance—and take a heavy challenge to his ankle.

Thankfully, he was fine to continue after that would-be foul, which was missed by the ref, but he couldn’t inspire Guinea to three points in an eventual 2-2 draw.

Finally, there was heartache for Kamil Grabara in the European U21 Championships with Poland.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Friday, August 17, 2018: Liverpool's goalkeeper Kamil Grabara during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at Meadow Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite having won their first two games in the group stage, Poland were ruthlessly dispatched by Spain, 5-0 the eventual scoreline, and it left three teams equally placed on six points—but Poland ended third on goal difference, exiting at the group stage.

Grabara was Poland’s top performer midweek in their second game, but could do little to stop the Spanish onslaught on Saturday night.

He might have done better for the second goal, rushing out to block an effort from a narrow angle, but otherwise, Spain’s finishing was simply sublime—as evidenced by the pick of the goals, Dani Ceballos’ top corner free-kick.

Going out with two wins and a single defeat is harsh for Grabara and his side, but his experiences over the past few months have been hugely positive and should stand him in good stead for 2019/20 and beyond.

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