All Barcelona had to do was get one. One away goal and it would all be over for Liverpool. One simple goal from the team with the greatest goal scorer of this era, perhaps of all time.
But Alisson wouldn’t let it happen.
What a difference a goalkeeper makes.
Last year, Liverpool’s Champions League run was ended by poor goalkeeping, Loris Karius undoing all the good work done by Jurgen Klopp’s side against Real Madrid.
So Karius was swapped for Alisson, the Brazilian goalkeeper who propelled AS Roma to the semifinals with an unheard-of comeback against Barcelona in the quarterfinals.
And for the second straight year, Alisson was in goal as the Blaugrana collapsed. Alisson was a major reason why his team won 4-0 to advance 4-3 on aggregate on Tuesday in Liverpool.
In the 2018 quarterfinals, Messi was dispossessed seven times as Roma rallied for a remarkable away-goals win over Barcelona.
While Liverpool had more to do on offense on Tuesday, Alisson too had more to do in goal, making five big saves to even give the Reds a chance to come back.
After Liverpool took the early lead through Divock Origi, Alisson had to get low to deny former Reds winger Philippe Coutinho in the 18th minute.
While Marc-André ter Stegen parried Jordan Henderson’s early shot into the path of Origi for the opening goal, Alisson pushed Coutinho’s shot just wide enough to avoid a rebound shot from Luis Suarez.
Just before halftime, with the score still 1-0, Alisson made what may be the play of the game, denying Jordi Alba after an incredible pass from Messi. (Alba was the foil of Alisson on Tuesday.)
Early in the second half Alisson again had to come up big to stop a shot from another former Liverpool striker, Luis Suarez. Messi again made a perfect pass, but Suarez’s attempt could have been stronger; regardless, Alisson was equal to the task.
Moments after the save, Georginio Wijnaldum hit for two goals in a manner of three minutes, drawing Liverpool even on aggregate.
¡GOOOOOOOOLLLLL DEL LIVERPOOL! Wijnaldum con un riflazo desde el punto penal la manda a guardar en el fondo de la red. ¡¡TENEMOS PARTIDO!!@LFC 2-0 @FCBarcelona_es (2-3 Global)#LaChampionsUD EN VIVO https://t.co/NzknDR1Oa8 pic.twitter.com/8ebYsriuao
¡GOOOOOLL! ¡GOOOOOLL! ¡GOOOOOLL! ¡GOOOOOLLAZOOOOOOO! Wijnaldum de cabeza solito y marca su doblete. ¡Se empató la eliminatoria! @LFC 3-0 @FCBarcelona_es (3-3 Global)#LaChampionsUD EN VIVO https://t.co/NzknDR1Oa8 pic.twitter.com/6pUvOLpAoP
And just as importantly, Alisson kept the match 3-0 when he stopped one of Messi’s best chances on the other end.
Messi was never able to consistently get good looks on goal, just as when Barcelona was knocked out by Roma last year. He was, once again, left looking human, as when he plays with Argentina.
Alisson, with five saves, set the stage for Liverpool’s comeback, which was completed when Trent Alexander-Arnold and Origi took advantage of ter Stegen and the Barça defense napping on a corner kick.
¡¡GOOOOOLLL DEL LIVERPOOL!! Se durmió toda la defensa y Origi la manda a guardar de primera. @LFC 4-0 @FCBarcelona_es (4-3 Global)#LaChampionsUD EN VIVO https://t.co/NzknDR1Oa8 pic.twitter.com/2Kj1VVeKmT
Alisson didn’t take a second off, and Liverpool is through to the Champions League final for the second straight year because of its goalkeeping play, not in spite of it.
And the Reds have done it all with Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino injured while challenging Manchester City for the Premier League title.
Obnoxious Liverpool fans (is that redundant?) everywhere have every right to go nuts tonight.