In a topsy turvy night of football, Liverpool snatched a win away to Wolves to go 40 games unbeaten thanks to a late strike from Roberto Firmino.
What defines a hero? There are many attributes but surely appearing when your people are most desperate, most in need, is the defining characteristic of a hero. In football, this can take the form of saves, dribbles, tackles or passes, but mostly it comes from goals.
For Liverpool, they have many people who step up and deliver heroics, but this season there has been no one more consistently decisive, consistently heroic as Roberto Firmino. The Brazilian striker only has eight goals this season, but all of them have come on the road, away from the comfort of Anfield.
Scoring for Liverpool at Anfield, given how good Liverpool are right now, isn’t as impressive as it should be. Scoring on the road, the only place where they really tend to struggle, is the true mark of heroism. And Firmino constantly shows up on the road. Constantly shows up when they need him most.
All eight of Roberto Firmino's Premier League goals this season have come away from Anfield:
⚽ St Mary’s
⚽ Turf Moor
⚽ Stamford Bridge
⚽ Selhurst Park
⚽⚽ King Power
⚽ Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
The biggest one yet. pic.twitter.com/lrQ0Tz2zeY
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 23, 2020
Game winners away to Crystal Palace and Spurs, a crucial brace against Leicester, massive winning goals in the Club World Cup semi-final and final. All on the road. And then tonight, away at Molineux where Liverpool were as bad as they have been all season thanks to a dynamic display from Wolves.
Adama Traoré was the best player on the park, crucifying the Reds nearly every time he touched the ball. Raul Jimenez was the best 9 on the field, scoring a gorgeous header to draw Wolves level. But neither of them could strike the killer blow, could make the heroic move and bring salvation to their side.
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That fell to Firmino. Just inside the box, fed by Jordan Henderson (who scored the side’s first goal of the game) the Brazilian took one touch to steady the ball, another to move it out from his feet and then as a trio of Wolves defenders converged on him, as enemies surrounded him and rapidly closed off any chance he had to make a decisive touch (he had seen a great chance saved just minutes earlier).
But Roberto Firmino is a hero, and heroes aren’t cowed by dire circumstances. They thrive when the odds are slim. And through the encroaching haze of orange, the Brazilian unleashed a left-footed thunderbolt that flew so fast that Rui Patricio didn’t even have time to dive. The Portuguese stopper remained rooted to the spot, he knew he had been vanquished by a truly heroic act.
Firmino wheeled away, pointing to the Liverpool crest as if to remind everyone that this was about the team. That despite this being a moment of singular individual genius, a moment of footballing heroism, the glory belonged to the collective not the one man. That humility, that selflessness to dedicate his goal to the team, is perhaps the most heroic thing Firmino did all night.
But that goal was pretty damn special. 10 goals this season across all competitions. All of them on the road in the furnaces of other people’s homes. All of them essential to winning Liverpool points, including when the Reds have struggled as they did tonight. Others will get the plaudits and the awards, but Roberto Firmino is Liverpool Football Club’s one true hero.