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Alisson, Lallana, Origi and the spirit that fuels Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to glory

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Ninety-five minutes of well-meaning toil, and all we needed to do was stick the big man up top…

I’ve seen this football team of ours do some incredible things down the years, but the 95th minute at the Hawthorns has put itself way up there.

Alisson Becker is a man who has been put through the emotional wringer this season, both on and off the pitch.

A father lost in tragic circumstances and a global pandemic which left him unable to be present at the funeral, while in terms of the round ball and the rectangular patch of grass he has been living a ludicrous campaign, in which his confidence has been stress-tested to the extreme by the loss of an entire central defence and his own form at times.

A massive test of character. It takes a big soul to make big things happen.

Some moments in football transcend their environment. Even on Sunday, when that winning goal essentially kept Liverpool’s season alive.

The concept of goalkeepers in the opposing penalty area isn’t a new thing, but it is when the scores are level; goalkeepers score the very occasional goal here and there, but they don’t score winning goals.

They tend to charge upfield in a bid to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat.

There is so much to love about Alisson’s incredible intervention against West Brom, be it how it keeps us in with a shout of Champions League qualification or that it acted as a form of therapy for the goalscorer.

But for me, it is the reaction of his team-mates, it is the reaction of the bench.

Take another look at the footage, take another look at the photographs, and check out the facial expressions of everyone who envelopes Alisson, in celebration of something that defies all footballing convention.

It is clearly the single greatest isolated moment they’ve ever seen on a football pitch, and it speaks of just how much spirit and warmth there is within the Liverpool squad.

As snapshot images go, I don’t think I’ve seen many better.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 16, 2021: Liverpool players mob goalkeeper Alisson Becker after he scored an injury time winning goal to sealed a 2-1 victory during the FA Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion FC and Liverpool FC at The Hawthorns. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Whatever positives might happen over the course of the next two games, whatever we go on to achieve next season, it will be propelled from Alisson’s majestic glancing header that stole the headlines, stole the points and stole the show on Sunday.

That sense of the impossible being nothing is something that simply cannot be bought; it can only evolve, maybe even be provoked. These points of genesis are rare.

Think back to Carrow Road, and January 2016. Adam Lallana settles the outcome of a mad 5-4 victory against Norwich, in the 95th minute of the game, driving his goalbound effort into the turf before it bounces high into the top corner.

Lallana had the autonomy to think and react.

From 1-0 up to 3-1 down to 4-3 up as the 90th minute presented itself. Then came a 92nd-minute equaliser, before Lallana plundered the winner.

NORWICH, ENGLAND - Friday, January 22, 2016: Liverpool's Adam Lallana celebrates scoring the fifth, and winning, goal against Norwich City to seal a late 5-4 victory with manager Jürgen Klopp during the Premiership match at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Bedlam unconfined, it is the type of moment that becomes addictive.

Supporters bask within the afterglow for days on end, the players involved live it and love it, while potential suitors watch from afar and want a slice of it for themselves.

Within not much more than two years of that wild afternoon in Norfolk, Klopp had led his team to the Champions League final.

I’ve mentioned before how Klopp deals in wild extremes. He took that disjointed 2015/16 squad, knocked off the rough edges, added some refinement and gave them the autonomy to think and react.

Think back to Anfield, and May 2019. Less than a year on from having lost a Champions League final; just six days after being beaten 3-0 at the Nou Camp in the first leg of the 2018/19 semi-finals by a Messi-inspired Barcelona.

It’s the 79th minute, the aggregate scoreline sits at 3-3 on an evening when we are without the services of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, May 7, 2019: Liverpool's Divock Origi celebrates scoring the fourth goal with team-mates during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Barcelona at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Suddenly there is subterfuge at the corner flag from Trent Alexander-Arnold, and before anybody has really noticed what has happened Divock Origi has the ball in the back of the net.

The greatest moment of football I have ever witnessed. Alexander-Arnold and Origi had the autonomy to think and react.

A few weeks later, Jordan Henderson is lifting Ol’ Big Ears into the Madrid night sky, and a year later he is doing likewise with the Premier League trophy at Anfield.

On Sunday, in the Black Country, Alisson had the autonomy to think and react. Within Klopp’s Liverpool, everyone has the remit to be the hero of the hour, everyone has the freedom to rip up the textbook.

What we have with Klopp’s Liverpool is something utterly astonishing. We should never take it for granted.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson headed home Liverpool’s stoppage-time winner at West Brom (Rui Vieira/PA)

This one moment, this extraordinary moment, Alisson stepping up to win a game that should be a lot easier to prevail in, might just be the juice that fuels Liverpool onward to new horizons in the seasons ahead.

I look at Gini Wijnaldum for instance, and wonder where else is he going to feel like he did on Sunday afternoon?

We’d made our now-accustomed hard work out of cracking the conundrum of Allardyceball, and our goalkeeper decided to take matters into his own hands.

We are truly blessed to have him.

Relegated or not, when a Sam Allardyce team gains a foothold in a game it is difficult to dislodge them. Meat-and-potato football, designed by Mr Potato Head himself, it was almost the undoing of our remaining hopes for the 2020/21 campaign.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 16, 2021: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker (R) celebrates with manager Jürgen Klopp (L) after scoring the winning second goal with a head in injury time during the FA Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion FC and Liverpool FC at The Hawthorns. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Turf Moor on Wednesday is unlikely to offer any easier of a ride, while Roy Hodgson won’t arrive at Anfield on Sunday bearing deliberate gifts. The seven goals Crystal Palace shipped against us in December will still be stinging.

One step at a time, though, and the latest one has been the most magnificently esoteric step of a startlingly strange season.

Up the ‘you couldn’t make it up’ Reds and their incredible goalscoring goalkeeper.

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