Goalkeeper Alisson heads his way into EPL history books

Sports

Liverpool’s goalkeeper Alisson celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool at the Hawthorns stadium in West Bromwich, England, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (Laurence Griffiths/Pool via AP)

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson made the 80-meter journey into West Bromwich Albion’s penalty area more in hope than any expectation of scoring the goal that would keep alive his team’s chances of reaching the Champions League.

After all, he’d never scored a goal in his career. No Liverpool ‘keeper had in any competitive game in the club’s 129-year history.

One textbook header from a corner changed all that.

In one of the most sensational moments of this or any Premier League season, Alisson — with his gloves on and unmissable in his black shirt and shorts — found space in the middle of the area to glance a header into the bottom corner from a perfect delivery by Trent Alexander-Arnold and secure Liverpool a dramatic 2-1 win on Sunday.

Alisson got up off the ground and was immediately mobbed by his teammates. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was speechless in his technical area.

A goalkeeper had scored for just the sixth time in Premier League history — none of the previous five had been a winner.

And Liverpool, against all the odds, could dream once again of the Champions League with one week left of the season.

“You can’t explain a lot of things in life,” the Brazil international said. “For me, the only reason for those types of things is God — he put his hand on my head today and I’m feeling really blessed.”

Alisson dedicated the goal to his father, José Agostinho Becker, who drowned in February after going for a swim on his property in the southern city of Lavras do Sul in Brazil.

“I (wish) he was here to see it. I’m sure he is with God at his side, celebrating,” he said.

Without that goal, Liverpool was set to miss out on finishing in the top four, its destiny no longer in its players’ hands.

Now, wins over Burnley and Crystal Palace will likely seal Liverpool a place in the top four and a return to the Champions League for one of European soccer’s grandest clubs.

“What a goal, what a worldie and unbelievable goal, the technique was insane,” Klopp said.

“It couldn’t have been a better moment, it’s just perfect for today. If he is never doing it again, I’m fine. It’s a perfect moment.”

Liverpool has 63 points, one behind fourth-place Chelsea and three behind third-place Leicester with two rounds remaining. Chelsea hosts Leicester on Tuesday in the next-to-last round.

Tottenham is still in the hunt for the top four — if only mathematically — after a 2-0 win over Wolverhampton, but Everton dropped out of the race by losing 1-0 at home to Sheffield United.

GOLDEN BOOT

Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah are tied on 22 goals heading into the final week of the season as they battle to win the Golden Boot — the trophy awarded to the league’s top scorer — for the third time.

Kane set Tottenham on its way to victory against Wolves but it was a frustrating match for the England captain, who struck the post twice and also had a header cleared off the line.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg scored the other goal for sixth-place Spurs, who are five points behind Chelsea and finish with a home game against Aston Villa on Wednesday and a trip to Leicester on Sunday.

Tottenham is ahead of West Ham on goal difference, with those two teams likely to finish in the spots reserved for qualification for the Europa League and the new Europa Conference League.

Salah matched Kane by scoring Liverpool’s first goal, which canceled out Hal Robson-Kanu’s for West Brom.

GLOOMY GOODISON

Everton’s home form has cost the team a shot at the top four.

Add a loss to already-relegated and last-place Sheffield United to the list of miserable failures at Goodison Park, which also includes defeats to Fulham, Newcastle and Burnley.

Everton has won just five of its 18 games at home. Carlo Ancelotti’s team is better playing on the counterattack away from home rather than taking the game to opponents who sit deep when they come to Goodison.

Daniel Jebbison, a 17-year-old striker, scored the winner for Sheffield United on his first senior start for the club.

Crystal Palace beat Aston Villa 3-2 in the other game.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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