The fans knew Roberto Firmino gave Liverpool their best chance at beating Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday and Sadio Mané knew it, too—and wanted Firmino involved, one good eye or two!
“I think Bobby doesn’t need his eye to play so I told him,” Mané said following the match won by Firmino’s stoppage time strike. “I sent him a message on Monday saying, ‘Hey Bobby, come on, we need you.’
“You’ve all seen the ‘no-look’ goals, so I think he doesn’t need his eye to play, so I texted him saying, ‘You don’t need your eye!’”
Of course, a thankfully healed second eye and the depth perception to go with it probably did help Firmino to feint inside, chop the ball back outside and onto his right, and slot it into the far corner of PSG’s goal in the 92nd minute.
There was something of a feeling of inevitability to it, though—that if a player with the drive of Firmino could find a way to play, he would. And if he did, he would find a way to make a difference.
That desire to play and to be involved and to make a difference in every moment of every game is what makes Firmino so important to Liverpool’s chances, and it’s why, eye jokes aside, Mané was texting him that the team needed him.
Increasingly, though, Firmino isn’t alone in having that drive. Increasingly, Liverpool look an entire squad made up of those kinds of players.
“I think it is about desire and belief,” Mané added of Liverpool’s push for a late winner and of a team that, from Jürgen Klopp on the bench to Firmino leading the line, shares that same driven mentality.
“We have quality in the team and the team is mentally free to go forward and believe it until the end. It is what we tried and finally we scored the third goal, which was very important for the team.”