Liverpool progressed to the fourth round of the EFL Cup on Wednesday night, with Irish goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher once again the hero after a dramatic penalty shootout against Derby.
Kelleher made three terrific saves as Liverpool triumphed, and the Corkman now holds a unique penalty-saving record for the club.
After the game, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp heaped praise on the young 'keeper.
Liverpool: Caoimhin Kelleher saves three penalties in EFL Cup shootout
Caoimhin Kelleher once again proved his mighty ability in a penalty shootout with three impressive saves on Wednesday night against Derby County.
Three outstanding saves, Caoimhín 🧤 pic.twitter.com/6BUffWfZig
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 10, 2022
The three saves were ultimately crucial, as Liverpool progressed 3-2 on penalties. The most impressive part was how much Kelleher had to work for each save, with Derby's players placing the ball in the corner and making things difficult for the 23-year-old on each occasion.
Wednesday's penalty shootout has created a remarkable stat, which proves Kelleher's prowess in a shootout. He had previously played crucial roles in last year's EFL Cup final shootout win against Chelsea.
Kelleher has now won more penalty shootouts than any previous Liverpool goalkeeper - despite playing less than 20 games for the club.
— Michael Reid (@michael_reid11) November 9, 2022
On average, Kelleher wins a penalty shootout for Liverpool once in just under every four games. Of course, this stat is aided by the fact that Kelleher predominantly plays in cup games, but it is nonetheless a remarkable testament to his penalty-saving abiliy.
Jurgen Klopp spoke to the Liverpool website about Kelleher at full-time, effusing praise for the Corkonian. The Liverpool boss praised his strength in the face of challenging penalties, and said that he had proven what everyone at the club already knew - that he is an outstanding young keeper:
I think we never hold it back somehow and said Caoimh could not play – no, no, no, he is exceptional, he is absolutely exceptional. Had now not the best season so far because he came back from holiday and was injured and it took a really long time to get him back in training and back to speed.
The goalkeeper coaches are just doing an incredible job, he is there and I am pretty sure he would say it exactly the same, he is their product.
He does what they do with him and the goalie they developed is a modern goalie: calm as you like, can play football and on top of that can catch balls and kick the ball out in a really good manner and that's really good.
Kelleher is locked in a battle with Southampton's Gavin Bazunu and Bournemouth's Mark Travers for the Ireland #1 jersey, but does not have the luxury of regular Premier League football, something which his two rivals for the goalkeeping spot both have. With Alisson first choice and cemented as such at Liverpool, it will be tricky for Kelleher to work his way into the starting lineup.
But, if he can continue making the most of his opportunities when he is called upon, such as on Wednesday night against Derby, he will very much so remain in Stephen Kenny's thoughts.