Rookie Kelleher’s two Alisson moments make dream night for Liverpool goalkeeper

Jurgen Klopp is no stranger to running onto the Anfield turf to celebrate with his goalkeeper.

On Wednesday it will be two years to the day since he bounded towards Alisson to celebrate the fact that Jordan Pickford had just juggled the ball into the path of Divock Origi in front of the Kop.

Origi scored, Klopp gave Alisson a bear hug, and just thinking about that moment now only serves to remind you what football was like with crowds.

It was great, wasn’t it? Well it will soon be back.

A smaller number will return at the weekend, and those at Anfield might be returning to see the latest Liverpool goalkeeper given a hug by Klopp. And how he deserved it.

Twenty-two-year-old Caoimhin Kelleher – a goalkeeper of “natural football playing ability” said Klopp post-match – was given the opportunity to fill Alisson’s shoes against Ajax.

Klopp went straight over to hug Kelleher at full-time

A fifth competitive Liverpool appearance for the Cork-born youngster, and a first in Europe.

It went rather well.

In years to come he’ll have to imagine that crowds were there were witness what he did, but Klopp certainly was at full-time.

Kelleher got a hug and a squeeze from his manager after a fine performance which radiated calm at a time when Liverpool needed it.

The loss of Alisson to a hamstring injury would surely have threatened to send Klopp over the edge given the problems throughout his team, and that surely weighed on his mind when he opted to pick his usual third-choice over Adrian, a goalkeeper who has burned out many a Liverpool head this season.

The goalkeeper was a commanding presence

Kelleher wasn’t tarnished by the 7-2 at Aston Villa or more pertinently Atletico Madrid last season, and so while Klopp won’t outwardly say it, it was important for what currently counts for his first-choice defence to have a different presence back there on a night when they were going to be tested.

But when they were, Kelleher stood tall.

He made a couple of comfortable saves in the first period, nothing that you wouldn’t have expected from him, but in the second he was needed for the bigger stuff, springing to his right to push out an effort and then saving his best for last late on.

Nine days after that Everton game in December 2018, Liverpool edged past Napoli 1-0 to qualify for the last-16 of the Champions League.

It was a game that featured a fine late save from Alisson at the Anfield Road end as he kept out visiting forward Arkadiusz Milik, with the Pole possessing the very future of Liverpool’s Champions League run at his feet at that moment.

They went on to win the whole thing.

The young Irishman made an excellent late save

Kelleher’s save from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar wasn’t quite as dramatic, and nor was it absolutely pivotal for Liverpool in terms of qualification. They still had FC Midtjjlland away next week of course.

But it now means that the Reds can go there knowing that they’ve won the group, and that Klopp can pick whatever team he likes. Jordan Henderson’s smile at full-time when he was informed of that fact showed that he knows he’s getting a midweek off.

So it was a big save at a big time for the goalkeeper. Right now he’ll be a popular figure with plenty of his teammates who have played a lot more matches for Liverpool, and those who will go on to do so.

Tasked with standing in for one of the very best in world, Kelleher stood tall.

He deserved that Klopp hug.

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