It was a goal that encapsulated Sadio Mane's all-round ability.
Norwich City, away, February 15, 2020. Liverpool’s first Premier League match after an international break and an opportunity to move a step closer to the coveted title.
With 77 minutes gone at Carrow Road, however, the game remains a stalemate.
Until, that is, a lofted pass from Jordan Henderson into the Norwich penalty area affords Mane, recently on as a substitute, the merest sniff of a chance to trouble the scoresheet.
A goal initially seems unlikely, with the Senegalese trapped between two Canaries defenders, back to the net. But his deft touch not only controls the ball out of the air, but nudges it into a shooting position.
Still, there’s work to do.
As Mane spins his body to realign himself with the ball, he produces a thumped finish off his left foot into the gap between the goalkeeper and the near post.
The flawless exhibition of technique stood out to Andy Robertson as a prime example of Mane’s ‘full repertoire’ – a skillset the left-back enjoys every single day in training.
In his reflections on the title-winning 2019-20 campaign in recently-released book Now You’re Gonna Believe Us, Robertson detailed why the strike at Norwich summed up his teammate’s world-class status.
“Norwich away was one of our most memorable trips of the season,” wrote Robertson.
“The result in itself was something to remember as our 17th win in a row left us needing just five more victories to secure the title with 12 fixtures remaining.
“The way the three points were earned will also live long in the memories of all who were there. Sadio went through his full repertoire of skill, strength, speed of thought and top-class finishing to get the goal that took us over the line.
“It wasn’t even the best of balls that set him up, it was just a hoof up the park by Hendo! Seriously, it was a great pass but Sadio still had a lot to do when he received the ball and I’m sure Hendo would agree that, in this case, the run made the pass.
“For Sadio to bring the ball down, spin away from his marker, turn and finish with his left foot was incredible. That’s why he’s one of the best players in the world, for me. How many other players could have scored a goal like that? Not many.
“I know from experience how difficult he is to deal with because I see it in training on a daily basis. He can do the unexpected, he can beat you with his upper body strength, he can go past you with skill or fly past you with speed.
“As well as having that kind of talent, he has also become a lot more consistent. When he first joined Liverpool, Sadio was already really good but he has become even better because his level of consistency has improved so much.
“Against Norwich, people maybe didn’t think there was a chance when the ball was in the air, so for him to turn that situation into a goal – and a decisive one at that – was incredible.”
Now You’re Gonna Believe Us tells the story of Liverpool’s incredible journey to becoming European, world and finally Premier League champions through Robertson’s eyes, a revealing and entertaining inside account of how the Reds conquered all before them.