Irish goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher keeps clean sheet on Champions League debut

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He was the first Irishman to play in the Champions League since Eoghan O’Connell in 2016.

Ringmahon man Caoimhin Kelleher was named as Liverpool’s starting keeper for their Champions League group stage fixture against Ajax tonight. Tonight marked the young goalkeeper’s Champions League debut, having previously played a handful of domestic cup competitions.

Liverpool’s first choice keeper, Alisson, was ruled out with a tight leg muscle thus giving the youngster an opportunity. Nevertheless, Klopp shown remarkable trust in Kelleher. Regular backup keeper, Adrian, only sat on the bench for tonight’s encounter.

The game itself was a crucial tie. A Liverpool loss would have meant a drop to 2nd in the group, at least.

In the end, Liverpool came out of Anfield with a 1-0 win – with thanks to a solid Caoimhin Kelleher performance. The Irishman kept Ajax out on a number of occasions, including a instinctive reflex save towards the end of the match. He commanded his area like a seasoned pro and looked very comfortable with the ball at his feet.

Once the final whistle blew, an elated Jurgen Klopp ran straight towards Caoimhin Kelleher as he and a number of the first team heaped praise on the young keeper.

Liverpool have now qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League, finishing top of their group. Atalanta and Ajax will now battle it out next week for a place in the Champions League last 16.

Liverpool face a tough challenge at the weekend against Wolves and with Alisson ruled out for that game, there’s a chance Caoimhin Kelleher could be in for his Premier League debut. His performance tonight will be hard for Klopp to ignore in terms of his selection. He will, however, face stiff competition from Adrian.

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