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A Tactical Breakdown of The Kid Who Got the Champions League Match Ball

Arguably the best Liverpool performance of the night. Become ungovernable, as the kids say.

Liverpool FC v Atletico Madrid: Group B - UEFA Champions League Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

For a supposed “dead rubber” in the supposed “Group of Death,” there were quite a few highlights from Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Porto Wednesday night.

Of course there was Thiago’s wonderstrike, which may or may not have abided by the laws of known physics. There was Mohamed Salah sending yet another defender for the Echo before slotting his 17th goal in 17 appearances so far (seems good, if you ask me). And there was the impressive, mature performance from 19-year-old Tyler Morton who made his Champions League debut.

However, the biggest buzz immediately after the game was not for the “kid” (in the way we refer to young footballers) Tyler Morton, but for an actual kid, who ran out onto the pitch to get the match ball after the final whistle.

I was not alone in being captivated by the videos that emerged from Anfield. There are so many brilliant moments packed into a mere 30-second video, that I had to do a full break down for you, dear reader.


Acting Quickly & Decisively

Let’s get right into it. These kids wasted no time from the off, and neither should we. They could have let the occasion get to them, but they just went about the business at hand. That business? Get the match ball off Andy Robertson. They made a beeline for the Scottish captain, getting to him before the stewards are even in the picture.


Securing the Goods

Sometimes you have to ride your luck. Of all the players the ball could’ve ended up with at the final whistle, Robertson is probably one of the most likely to find the humor (not to mention cheek) in it. He gladly relinquishes control of the ball, along with a word or two to the lad, possibly passing along some sage-like advice. Or possibly just “go on lad, get out of here.”

Meanwhile, the second kid continues his run, acting as a decoy for the hapless pursuit that is about to ensue.


Using Origi as a Screen

With the ball secured, the lads book it down the pitch. Instead of panicking and turning back, they used the distance that they had already made up on the steward, and smartly took the long way around Divock Origi. In doing so, they created a screen, giving themselves just that little bit of extra time and space needed to complete the heist.

Origi, for his part, is completely on brand, seemingly unaware or unbothered by the ongoing shenanigans.


Giving the Kop the Big One

This is brilliant for two reasons. First of all, who doesn’t want to celebrate life’s greatest achievement in front of the Kop? It’s a joy that few of us will ever get to experience, so well in for taking the time to bask in the glory. Of course the Kop were on his side.

Secondly...


Creating a Distraction

It looked like he was headed toward the Kop. They were cheering him on. Maybe he even thought he could book it past the second steward (now visible at the top of the screen). Nope. The steward was caught completely flat-footed.

Just at the moment when it looked like the stewards are closing in, the kid dropped his shoulder, changed direction, and once again created more space for the get away.


Accelerating Toward the Finish Line

Once the kid made up his mind to GTFO, he raced toward the touchline, and there’s simply no catching him. At least, there’s no catching him out in the open like this.

The steward might have gotten a chance against another kid, on another day, as he struggled to get himself and the ball over the hoardings and into the stands. But as we’ll see, this kid had yet another trick up his sleeve.


Tossing the Ball into the Stands

He spotted a friendly bystander and tossed him the ball ahead of his daring escape. Did he know this person? Hard to say. Either way, he did some quick mental calculations and determined that it was better to trust this stranger to a) catch the ball and b) give it back, than it was to try to clamber over the wall with the ball in hand. Had he attempted the latter, it likely would’ve resulted in him getting caught.

Also a quick note on the second kid: he looked over, sees that the mission has nearly been accomplished, and that the steward will soon turn his attention toward him. He bends his run, creating space while the steward is fully focused on the main target of the attack, allowing him to also get away.


Completing the Escape

He does well to get up and over the barrier, and the steward is helpless to do anything about it.


Here’s the full video:

And one more, showing the rest of the escape:

And just like that, an Anfield Legend is born.