Alisson Becker, what a man.
The Reds secured their biggest victory of the season so far on Sunday afternoon, once again not doing it the easy way.
OWEN: Let’s start with Thiago, who put in a brilliant performance and was surely only denied Man of the Match by a once-in-a-lifetime moment that we’ll come to shortly.
I felt he carried the team for most of the game, with some visionary passing and unguessable creativity. For a long time, it looked like anything we got out of the game would be via some intricate Thiago magic (until stoppage time, at any rate.)
Plaudits for Trent, too, whose pursuit of every last ball – in defence or attack – was crucial.
Chasing it up to the touchline didn’t yield too much in attack, admittedly, but he put in some all-important tackles and blocks at the other end to keep a lid on West Brom’s sporadic sniffs at goal.
Also, Mo Salah. I find it astonishing that any Red wants to cash in on him this summer when he continues to pull world-class goals out of the hat precisely when we need them.
Not his best performance, but another stunning strike – we’re watching an all-time Liverpool legend at work and I don’t think he could stay at Anfield a day too long.
Off it, he was tenacious and positionally savvy. He was like a hybrid of Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso.
It would have been sickening if the Reds didn’t claim a win to go with one of the best performances any of their midfielders has put in in recent times, so thankfully Alisson came up with the goods.
Alisson, what can you say. He’s had highlight-reel moments in red, especially the save versus Napoli in 2018/19, but he will never, ever top that. Nor will we ever see a moment like that.
It was an incredible header and moment. He has been excellent lately, bar some hairy moments with the ball at his feet, no more so than in the Leeds game.
And when you consider the personal trauma he’s gone through this year, you can only be ecstatically happy for him.
Trent produced another brilliant performance – he’s been excellent since Gareth Southgate dropped him from the England squad.
He provided a game-winning assist, but he was solid defensively and helped out two greenhorn centre-backs.
HENRY: I couldn’t agree more with the lads – they’ve nailed it.
Thiago was a joy to watch throughout and those people who have doubted him are starting to look more foolish by the game.
Just wait until he has a great defence behind him and all the attackers are back in form.
Trent and Salah were the other two clear standouts, barring a gorgeous Brazilian man I’ll talk about shortly, and the win was absolutely huge.
OWEN: Considering he had a point to prove after Thursday night, I thought Sadio Mane was a little too hesitant in front of goal – he had two chances to give us the lead not long after the equaliser, but spurned both by lingering a few seconds too long before shooting.
I’m not sure if it was Thiago’s passing brilliance that made everyone else look a bit sub-par by comparison, but Fabinho in particular had an uncharacteristically sloppy game in the middle of the pitch, and for once was more light-headed than lighthouse.
Neither Rhys Williams nor Nat Phillips could ever have expected to become key men in our charge towards Europe, so I’ll cut them some slack, but Rhys looked highly flimsy for West Brom’s opener and a lapse from Nat nearly let them have a second, too.
Between that and Mike Dean blowing for a free-kick with every other exhalation, this had all the potential to be one of those games, with what few clear-cut chances we carved out being infuriatingly squandered.
JOHN: Again I agree with Owen about Mane. His form has been poor for six months and this game was a continuation of that.
His touch was heavy, he snatched at chances and his decision-making left a lot to be desired. To his credit, he’ll always run and work hard for the team, but he’s a pale shadow of his former self.
Phillips also struggled. Given he’d never played top-flight football prior to this season and has clear limitations, he has mostly done well for Liverpool.
But he was exposed time and time again with his poor positioning.
It’s not as if the Baggies have tonnes of pace, so speculative long balls into the corners should be something a towering defender deals easily with it. He didn’t, though, and he was culpable for the hosts opener.
If he can guide Liverpool to a top-four place he can be extremely proud of his efforts, but he’s far below the standard required.
HENRY: As John says, you can’t fault his effort levels, but my god Mane is difficult to watch at the moment.
You just don’t feel anything will happen when he gets the ball, which is the complete opposite to last season.
Some of the finishing was also poor again, too, while that bit when Shaqiri passed the ball out of play led to the remote control being hurled!
Phillips and Williams both looked horribly susceptible to the long ball as well, showing why they aren’t good enough moving forward.
And moment of the season…
OWEN: Wow. As I write this, I’m still shaking.
There are so many statistical, numerical, historical reasons why Alisson’s 95th-minute winner is remarkable, but on a purely emotional level, this surely can’t be beaten.
Not only moment of the season but – and I say this with confidence, despite the next nine years to come – probably the moment of the decade as well.
The first-ever goalkeeper to score for Liverpool, the lowest-numbered player to ever score for us – sorry, Glen Johnson – the goal that keeps us in contention to win the Champions League next season, and to top it all, one of the most emotional post-match interviews you will ever see.
It’s a goal that will echo throughout the history of our club and it really couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke.
Finally, shoutout to Matt McQueen, who played a few games in goal for us in the 1890s and also scored a couple of goals as an outfielder, whose somewhat torturous claim to fame has been expunged from the record books at last.
I’m sure he’s raising a glass with Jose Becker up there tonight and every Red should be doing the same.
JOHN: You’d think such a scenario was farfetched if you saw it in a film, but it was real and it could be a huge moment for Liverpool, not only this season but into the future.
Owen put it as well as anyone can really!
HENRY: I’m not going to trump Owen, let’s face it. Beautifully put.
That was undoubtedly the moment of the season, in terms of drama and emotion, and it felt like real football again, which often hasn’t been the case in 2020/21.
Frankly, it’s so incredible and surreal that it still hasn’t properly sunk in.
A world-class goalkeeper, but more importantly, he is a wonderful person. Thanks for saving our season, Ali!