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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Keeper and scorer

None of the science behind Alisson Becker’s goal could match the sheer romance of it

By: Editorial |
Updated: May 18, 2021 9:04:23 am
It was so clinical a strike that it would have wowed Harry Kane and Edinson Cavani, two of English league’s celebrated poachers.

In his teenage days, Alisson Becker, Liverpool’s Brazilian goalkeeper who scored a scorching header in the 94th minute of their game against West Bromwich Albion, was called The Cat, O Goleiro Gato in Portuguese. On Sunday, Alisson lived up to his name as he tiptoed in the rival penalty box to score a dramatic match-winner. When all eyes were on the star strikers, Alisson moved into an empty space, leapt in the air, and twisted his head to make contact with the ball, which raced past the goalkeeper like a bullet. It was so clinical a strike that it would have wowed Harry Kane and Edinson Cavani, two of English league’s celebrated poachers.

None of the science behind the goal could match the sheer romance of it. A goalkeeper scoring a goal in the last minute of a must-win game. Even by football’s unceasing ability to surprise or shock, it’s difficult to find a more fairy tale script or a more wicked twist to a game. It evokes a melange of emotions — disbelief, tears, and laughter. It’s so rare a feat that it has happened just six times in the history of the English Premier League. The last time a goalkeeper scored in the league was eight years ago (Stoke City’s Asmir Begovic scored just 13 seconds into the game against Southampton). What makes Alisson’s goal even more precious is that it was a header, the first time it has happened in the league’s history.

His goal came at a time when goalscoring goalkeepers have gone out of fashion. While modern-day goalkeepers are more enterprising, they are not quite tasked with goal-scoring or spot-kick duties as was fashionable in the 1990s when the likes of Rogério Ceni (112 career goals), José Luis Chilavert (54) and René Higuita (44) were frequent goal scorers. Alisson might not revive their legacy but showed that nothing in football quite matches the spontaneous outpouring of emotions as the sight of a goalkeeper scoring a goal.

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