FeatureRemember When: 'Brilhante' Bobby's first Liverpool goal
It ends with a nod and a handshake of approval from no less a judge than James Milner.
Roberto Firmino trots off at the Etihad Stadium on November 21, 2015 having very much arrived in the Premier League, an individual performance overflowing with the industry and invention that would prove his calling card producing a first goal of his Liverpool career and helping to inspire one of the heavyweight results of Jürgen Klopp’s early months in the dugout: a 4-1 dismantling of Manchester City.
The Brazilian’s opening weeks at Anfield had certainly been a slow burn. His settling-in period on Merseyside following four-and-a-half years in Hoffenheim was disturbed by the setbacks of a team in the midst of a transition that would see Klopp take over the managerial reins the month before the swashbuckling victory in Manchester.
Among the new manager’s initial tactical manoeuvres was to switch his No.11’s position – thrust into the central No.9 role though not yet wearing the number. And the fuse was lit.
As the darkness of a late-autumn evening descends, Liverpool ripple the City net three times inside the opening 32 minutes and the man from Maceio is at the heart of each goal. His sureness of touch and awareness of space – delivered with a dose of spontaneity – weave in harmony with teammates around him as the Reds swarm. And wobble opposition defenders, too.
Firmino’s low cross to the near post from the left flank forces an own goal for the first strike of the contest and next his movement, driving diagonally over to the right channel, allows the forward to sweep a laser-guided delivery across the area for compatriot Philippe Coutinho, who arrives to nudge a finish underneath the goalkeeper from close range.
They reverse roles in the architecture of the third, Emre Can’s sweet back-heel leading Coutinho to square the ball around the goalkeeper for Firmino to convert into an empty net and make a first deposit into his Liverpool goal account, which these days is filled by more than 100.
He’s off the pitch – via that well-earned pat on the back and a “brilliant” from Milner – when Martin Skrtel slams in a fourth and final flourish of an emphatic performance that signals the possibilities of the Klopp era.
And he’s off and running for the Reds.