It was a great night for Caoimhin Kelleher for a number of reasons after Liverpool’s all-important 1-0 win over Ajax.
First, it was the 22-year Champions League debut after Kelleher was selected to fill in between the sticks in the absence of Alisson Becker, who suffered a hamstring injury.
The Irish goalkeeper closed his inaugural European game with a zero and a crucial win that saw Liverpool progress from Group D as the winner.
Former Liverpool star Peter Crouch admired Kelleher’s contribution.
Crouch told BT Sport: “Alisson has had his injury problems. That was a big appeal to keep Adrian out today.
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“For him [Kelleher] to come in and play so confidently. He’s going to get more games. “
A dream debut
From the manager’s perspective, starting Kelleher against Ajax was quite a picture of confidence as Adrian was fit and available.
Just three days prior to his stunning performance at Anfield, Kelleher was involved in the under-23s’ 7-2 defeat to Manchester City last Saturday – talk about a change of fortune in space at 72 hours!
It turned out to be a managerial masterstroke from the Liverpool boss, with Kelleher’s skill on the ball as impressive as his shot from zero point.
He was alert and equal to all the moments it took him to be decisive and he also impressed with his composure on the ball.
“In this game, we needed Caoimhin’s football playing ability and natural playing ability,” Klopp told BT Sport in his post-game interview.
“Of course he is also a very good bullet stopper.
“We made that decision and you never know, they are all calm the moment they get the information, but there is a difference in being on the field.”
Kelleher didn’t seem out of place, nervous, or flustered. And judging by how Klopp and his teammates rushed to flood him, it was a show they really appreciated from their replacement goalkeeper.
It was truly a night to remember for Kelleher and a performance that will live long in Anfield folklore.
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