Liverpool claimed a massive win in the San Siro on Wednesday, as they took a pivotal 2-0 lead from the first-leg against Inter Milan. Goals from Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah against the Italian champions put them on course for the quarter-finals.
Firmino has been in and out of the Liverpool side, and is now under threat from new signing Luis Diaz - so his goal against Inter could hardly have come at a more crucial time.
Inter v Liverpool: Roberto Firmino scores pivotal goal
Inter were on top for plenty of their last-16 first leg against Liverpool. Edin Dzeko had a goal ruled out for offside, and Hakan Calhanoglu hit the bar, before the English side ultimately pulled ahead. Their winger Ivan Perisic was the standout attacking player, but couldn't produce anything of material worth in front of goal.
It was Brazilian Roberto Firmino who broke the deadlock for Liverpool - pretty well against the run of play - with just 15 minutes to play. The Brazilian's beauty of a header could hardly have come at a better time, as he faces question marks over his long-term place in Liverpool's squad.
— Watch the UCL on LiveScore 🇮🇪 (@LiveScoreIE) February 16, 2022
Firmino has been out of sorts in front of goal for quite some time now. He has been usurped by Portuguese winger Diogo Jota as the final member of the front three at Liverpool alongside Salah and Mané, and the signing of Luis Diaz leaves him precariously on the verge of being frozen out at Anfield.
Jota is only behind Salah in the Premier League's top scorers tally, and he has become a go-to for manager Jurgen Klopp in big games for Liverpool. The assured place Roberto Firmino once held in the XI has been gone for over a year now and, having spent that long on the sidelines, he was in need of a big moment to force his way back in.
The Brazilian striker came up with just that in Milan. His superb header was, incredibly, Liverpool's first shot on target, and it was a moment of magic that lit up their attacking performance.
They would go on to claim a 2-0 win with the aid of free-scoring Mo Salah, but Firmino's strike was the first time they had looked like scoring in the entire game. He was brought on for Jota at half-time, and you would be forgiven for predicting that that moment may usher in a run of form for "Bobby Dazzler".
The hope for Klopp and his team will be that the Firmino who was such a crucial part of their runs to the Champions League finals of 2018 and 2019 will soon reappear, in place of the famished Firmino of recent months.
He will need to do plenty more to work his way back into contention ahead of Jota, and we await with baited breath the impact of Luis Diaz. But, as potential season-defining moments go, this was huge for Roberto Firmino.
He may have struggled to make his impact all season but, given how important the triumph in the San Siro may turn out to be, Firmino couldn't have picked a better moment to pop up with a crucial goal for the Reds.