Alisson Becker

Wolves v. Liverpool match recap and video highlights
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Liverpool overcomes Wolves challenge to win 14th-straight

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If this ends up being an unbeaten Premier League season for Liverpool, this one may be called “The Alisson Game.”

Liverpool’s star goalkeeper kept the Reds quest for legendary status alive long enoiugh for Roberto Firmino to supply the winner in a 2-1 defeat of Wolves at the Molineux on Thursday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jordan Henderson might like the game’s title role, too, scoring a goal and assisting the 84th minute winner.

Raul Jimenez leveled the score after halftime for Wolves, who stay seventh with 34 points.

Liverpool increases its table lead to 16 points with a match-in-hand on the field.


Three things we learned

1. Alisson’s smart goalkeeping keeps dream alive: Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men have gone behind in eight matches this season, claiming a win in three of them. That would’ve been four if Alisson Becker wasn’t between the sticks for Liverpool. The Brazilian was calm at the back despite being put in several predicaments, his positioning exquisite with plenty of high claims and parries.

2. Henderson has himself a day: Liverpool’s favorite Mackem brings plenty of grit to the side, and his crunching Traore at least thrice in the first 21 minutes shows his tactical duty. But don’t let that take away from his nose for goal. Henderson made sure to back up his motivational “business as usual” post-match interview after beating Manchester United by thundering into the mix to head a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner home after just eight minutes at the Molineux. His alert assist after Salah was dispossessed was plenty pretty, too.

3. Traore puts Reds off balance: As stated above, Jurgen Klopp clearly had a plan for handling Traore when he was in the center of the park. The winger, however, was a much bigger ask for Andy Robertson out wide. Traore blazed down the left to deliver an assist after Robertson’s failed challenge on Jimenez, then won a free kick off Robertson minutes later (Alisson saved the danger).

Man of the Match: Traore. Perfect on contested dribbles and nearly so on 50-50 challenges. A proper menace.


Henderson opened the score when he rose at the near post to head Alexander-Arnold’s cross off Rui Patricio’s hand and into the side netting.

Two of the game’s more lethal finishers were stymied in tight in the 17th and 18th minutes, with Virgil Van Dijk defying Raul Jimenez and Wolves smothered a Mohamed Salah drive.

Sadio Mane limped off with an injury, allowing Takumi Minamino to make a Premier League debut, and Van Dijk was slowed by a 50-50 challenge with Adama Traore before halftime.

Salah drove by two Wolves in stioppage time, but is shot deflected into the air and was corraled by Patricio.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

The Egyptian picked up where he left off in the 47th, stripping Traore and forcing a save out of Patricio.

Salah raced back upfield moments later to block a Pedro Neto shot after Wolves led a promising charge.

Wolves made it 1-1 with a bit of lightning down the right, as Traore raced onto a through ball and crossed for Jimenez to head past Alisson Becker.

Traore then won a free kick and a yellow card for a poor sliding challenge on Traore, but Wolves couldn’t deliver a second goal in five minutes.

Liverpool answered, Firmino pumping a shot into the keeper despite a half-emptty net at the hour mark.

Alisson then made a fine save on a Traore drive in the 65th, blocking a Jimenez shot two minutes later.

That’s not to say the Reds weren’t busy, and Rui Patricio made a fine low save on Firmino in the 82nd minute.

Firmino got his goal in a flash, taking a pass frorm an alert Henderson and burying a shot past Patricio.

Diogo Jota blew a point blank chance to make it 2-2 in the second minute of stoppage after Traore and Jimenez set him atop the six.

Player Ratings from Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United

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Liverpool might’ve needed a stoppage time goal to put Manchester United away, but the Reds outclassed their rivals on Sunday at Anfield.

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It was a righteous beatdown of the visitors, who were without Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford but looked more like a relegated-threatened side than one of the most successful clubs in football history.

[ MORE: JPW’s Three Things ]


Liverpool

Alisson — 9 — One of the world’s best gets an extra point for assisting Mohamed Salah‘s insurance goal.

Andy Robertson — 7 — Typical strength from the hard-working Scot.

Joe Gomez — 7

Virgil Van Dijk — 8 — Scored the decisive goal and was almost imperious at the back.

Trent Alexander-Arnold — 7

Georginio Wijnaldum — 7

Jordan Henderson — 8 — One of his best days in the shirt, winning numerous tackles and deprived of a delightful goal by De Gea.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Out 66′) — 7

Sadio Mane (Out 83′) — 5 — If he’s anywhere near his average self, he has a first half hat trick.

Mohamed Salah — 7 — Tied for a match-high shots with Mane, but had more of an edge and found a deserved goal late.

Roberto Firmino (Out 83′) — 7 — A game-high six dribbles to go with plenty of industry.

Subs 

Adam Lallana (66′) — 7

Divock Origi (83′) — N/A

Fabinho (83′) — N/A


Manchester United

David De Gea — 7 — An incredible save on Jordan Henderson on a day he had so little help.

Luke Shaw (Off 87′) — 5

Harry Maguire — 4 — Tried to do too much in his first match as full-time United captain.

Victor Lindelof — 4

Aaron Wan-Bissaka — 6 — One of few standouts on the day, with loads of energy and few ready to meet his level.

Brandon Williams (Out 75′) — 6

Nemanja Matic — 6

Fred — 7 — One of the few United players to bring effort and sharpness, but his shooting was off. Only Van Dijk attempted more passes.

Andreas Pereira (Out 75′) — 3 — Don’t let his ability to produce an edge of your seat moment detract from 16-of-26 passing and dreadful inconsistency.

Daniel James — 5

Anthony Martial — 4 — Blazed a perfect chance to tie the match over the bar, and effort wasn’t there.

Subs 

Juan Mata (In 75′) — N/A

Mason Greenwood (In 75′) — N/A

Diogo Dalot (In 87′) — N/A

Liverpool rides past sloppy Manchester United

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Virgil Van Dijk and Mohamed Salah scored as Liverpool powered past Manchester United 2-0 at Anfield on Sunday.

Liverpool left the door open deep in stoppage time thanks to uncharacteristically poor finishing but controlled the match in increasing its table lead to 16 points with a match-in-hand.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

United stays on 34 points, five back of fourth-place Chelsea.

Marcus Rashford missed the match with a back injury, and reports say he could miss 2-3 months with a double stress fracture.


United was lively out of the gates, too much so in the case of an early Nemanja Matic yellow card for a high kick.

Van Dijk put the leaders ahead in the 15th minute, rising over Harry Maguire as the United back tussled with Joe Gomez.

Mane came close to making it 2-0 in the 24th, but an extra touch allowed Luke Shaw to clear for a corner.

Firmino had it 2-0 on the board, but Van Dijk fouled David De Gea before the play. De Gea received a yellow card for his remonstrations before VAR intervened.

Liverpool had a second goal wiped off the board when Wijnaldum was just offside on his run to slip a ball past De Gea.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka cued Andreas Pereira up for a back-post chance, but the sliding Brazilian couldn’t get anything on it.

Pereira then pumped a shot to Alisson from distance, good venom but an easy catch. De Gea then made a leg save on Mane at the other end.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Liverpool returned with vigor in the second half, Salah forcing a big save out of De Gea. Then the keeper pushed a Jordan Henderson smash off the goal post.

The hosts dominated, and rare United ventures like Fred‘s 57th-minute lash wide of the near post were well covered.

Anthony Martial worked a 1-2 with Pereira and viciously lashed over the far corner as United found another chance.

Mane missed wide when Wijnaldum cooked an over-aggressive Maguire with a midfield nutmeg.

There was a stoppage-time charge from United, but nothing came of it besides Salah’s long dribble to beat De Gea.

Liverpool makes history versus wasteful Spurs

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Liverpool scored an early and withstood a furious Tottenham Hotspur charge to pick up a 1-0 win in North London on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Roberto Firmino was the goal scorer as Liverpool improved to 20W-1D, becoming the first club in Europe’s Top Five leagues to take 61 of 63 points to start a season.

Tottenham is now nine points back of the Top Four.


Key numbers

14: Spurs out-attempted Liverpool 14-13.

68: Liverpool carried nearly 70 percent of the ball.

39: Spurs hoofed almost 40 clearances compared to Liverpool’s nine.

1: Japhet Tanganga made his first Premier League start for the Spurs.

Man of the Match: Firmino.


Premier League debutant Japhet Tanganga was baptized by fire, blocking a would-be Roberto Firmino goal in the second minute.

Lucas Moura worked past Joe Gomez to drill a shot wide of the near post in the fifth. Heung-Min Son drove 50 yards to miss with an 8th minute effort.

Dele Alli saw a lash deflected over the bar in the 13th minute as Spurs countered well again.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Christian Eriksen rolled a tame shot to Alisson Becker in the 22nd.

Liverpool found danger through Salah a minute later, the Egyptian chipping to the back post where Virgil Van Dijk was denied by Paulo Gazzaniga.

The Reds went in front through Firmino, who turned past Tanganga and fired past the outstretched arms of Gazzaniga.

Virgil van Dijk slid to block a Dele Alli shot, and Serge Aurier ripped the chance into the arms of Alisson Becker. At the other end, Firmino stung Gazzaniga’s palms.

Heung-min Son saw deflected shot earn Spurs a corner in the 60th, but it came to nothing.

Gazzaniga then made a tight reaction save on Mane to keep it 1-0.

Spurs then took hold of the match, though they coudn’t find an equalizer. Serge Aurier picked out Giovani Lo Celso at the back for a sliding effort that somehow missed the frame.

Erik Lamela bounded a shot to Alisson in the 89th as Spurs kept pushing for an equalizer.

Messi wins 6th Ballon d’Or

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Lionel Messi is back on top.

For the sixth time, the hosts at France Football’s end-of-year awards ceremonies read out Messi’s name as the winner of the Ballon d’Or. The 2019 award is Messi’s first since 2015. Since the the award was won by Cristiano Ronaldo twice and Luka Modric last year after guiding Croatia to the 2018 World Cup final.

So far this season, Messi has scored 14 goals to go with eight assists for Barcelona in all competitions. Last season however, Messi returned to his dominance, leading La Liga with 36 goals and scoring a total of 48 between the league and the UEFA Champions League. He also had 16 assists between both leagues.

Also honored on Monday evening was the winners of the Best Young Player and the Best Goalkeeper, a new award.

The goalkeeping award, named after the Soviet great Lev Yashin, went to Liverpool’s Alisson Becker. The Brazilian goalkeeper backstopped Liverpool in his first season in England to second place in the Premier League and the 2019 UEFA Champions League title. He’s recorded 21 clean sheets in 45 Premier League appearances so far.

Matthijs de Ligt, the former Ajax star who led his team to back to back Champions League semifinals, was named the Best Young Player by France Football. Now with Juventus, de Ligt is part of a superstar generation of young Dutch players who are looking to take their nation far at the 2020 Euros and beyond. De Ligt, at just 20-years old, still has many of his best years ahead of him.

The top ten in the final 2019 Ballon d’Or is as follows:

10. Riyad Mahrez, Man City

9. Bernardo Silva, Man City

8. Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich

7. Alisson Becker, Liverpool

6. Kylian Mbappe, PSG

5. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

4. Sadie Mane, Liverpool

3. Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus

2. Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool

1. Lionel Messi, Barcelona