Thiago finally got his first goal for Liverpool in their 2-0 win over Southampton… this could be a lift-off moment for the midfielder at Anfield
- Liverpool beat Southampton 2-0 at Anfield in the Premier League on Saturday
- Sadio Mane scored before Thiago sealed the three points in the 90th minute
- Midfielder found the bottom corner with a fine strike from the edge of the box
There were little flashes all night from the little man wearing No 6. A beautiful scooped pass with the outside of a foot to Diogo Jota; a pirouette that sent Nathan Tella one way then the other; and a glorious, instinctive ball to Mohamed Salah.
Finally, though, with almost the last kick came the moment that might have the biggest impact for Thiago Alcantara. His first Liverpool goal, at the Kop End, was a beauty, a precision drive that sped past Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster and kept his side’s top-four hopes alive.
This was not Thiago’s best game for Liverpool — there were points when he looked a yard off the pace and struggled to chase back — but the relief that accompanied his clinching strike was tangible.
Thiago celebrates after scoring his first goal for Liverpool against Southampton on Saturday
He was engulfed by team-mates and Jurgen Klopp pumped his fists with glee. No matter what a player has achieved in their career — and Thiago has done more than most could dream of — they need a moment to provide lift-off at a new club and this may prove to be the Spaniard’s.
‘His shooting in training is top,’ said Rhys Williams, the 20-year-old defender who was drafted in at the last minute to deputise for the injured Ozan Kabak. ‘We’ve been telling him to shoot more. Gini (Wijnaldum) shouted, “Shoot!” and he whipped it around. Finally he’s got one for us.’
Thiago was bought to make the difference in games bigger than a league match against Southampton. Liverpool signed Thiago for £20million from Bayern Munich and it is hard to remember a deal in the last 10 years that has been greeted with such acclaim by supporters.
But things have not gone anything like he or Klopp would have envisaged and it has led some to wonder whether Bayern had done to Liverpool what they did to Manchester United when selling them Bastian Schweinsteiger in 2015, knowing his best years were in the past.
The midfielder found the bottom corner with a fine strike from just outside the area
But there is a feeling within the squad that Thiago, 30, will be seen in his proper light during the next 12 months, when there is more stability around him: he, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho have only played 89 minutes as a midfield three.
That came at Goodison Park last October and those involved in that 2-2 draw felt things were clicking, from the pace at which Liverpool played to the chances they created. Thiago is too good to make a snap judgment on after the most unusual campaign in living memory.
‘It was an amazing feeling to score,’ said Thiago. ‘We’ll keep fighting to make a small miracle happen (finishing in the top four). The window is open for us and we’ll try to get through.’
Jurgen Klopp looked delighted after watching the midfielder seal the three points late on
Liverpool are six points behind fourth-placed Leicester with a game in hand. Everything points to Thursday’s rearranged fixture against Manchester United being the defining moment.
Before that, United face Leicester and Klopp was asked about the prospect of them fielding a weakened side in that fixture.
‘We have a tough programme ourselves, we play the last four games in a very short period of time,’ he said. ‘Everybody is 100 per cent sure Ole Gunnar Solskjaer respects the Premier League 100 per cent, but the situation is like it is. I really think it’s crazy what we did with that (schedule). I know there were not proper solutions, but there could be a better situation.’