Roberto Firmino proved decisive as Liverpool beat Flamengo to win the Club World Cup. He showed exactly why he’s one of the best.
Firmino had already left his mark on the tournament, of course. His goal was the reason – along with Trent Alexander-Arnold – that Liverpool even made the final.
He started this one poorly, though. Alexander-Arnold put Firmino clean through just minutes in but the Brazilian fired well over the bar.
And he had an even worse miss to begin the second half. Liverpool’s number 9 was slap-bang in the middle of the goal, ten yards out, with time – and hit it against the post.
It was a really bad effort, in truth, and one everyone would have looked back on as the game’s defining moment – that didn’t involve the referee – if Liverpool had failed to win.
That Firmino rebounded from those misses to beat Flamengo is impressive. But how he did it shows his true class.
The Brazilian received the ball after good work from Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson. It left him in the box with just the keeper to beat but the chance wasn’t a simple one.
Diego Alves probably would have saved a first-time shot. Firmino clearly saw that and instead took his time to control the ball, sidestep the goalkeeper and a defender, before slotting it home.
Composure personified. Firmino kept his cool like few others can but that he was able to do that after his earlier misses is truly exceptional.
Jurgen Klopp likes to refer to his players as ‘mentality monsters’. This was exactly that. This was a player managing to ignore the pressure, ignore any self-doubt, and do the right thing in the right moment.
Firmino has shown that ability ever since his £29m move – he’d done so in the semi-final against Monterrey, too. And it’s that mentality that makes him one of the best forwards in the world.