Glen Johnson: Beating Everton can turn Liverpool around
Published 23:00 30/11/09 By David Maddock
Glen Johnson believes that Liverpool have just experienced the defining moment that can turn their season around.
The England full back watched with a mix of wonder and admiration as his keeper Pepe Reina pulled off the save of the year to deny bitter local rivals Everton, and ensure a massive 2-0 victory for the Reds.
To concede at that moment would have devastated Liverpool and left them open to another demoralising blow in what has been a desperately disappointing campaign so far.
But instead, by miraculously denying Tim Cahill and then immediately springing from the turf to do the same to Marouane Fellaini, Reina gave Liverpool consecutive wins for the first time since late September, and a first Premier League clean sheet away from home all season.
Manager Rafa Benitez immediately expressed the belief that such a massive victory can have a galvanising effect on his team's performances, but Johnson was even more specific, as he insisted it is the keeper's brilliance which will inspire the Anfield club.
"It was massive - that save was amazing. With it being 1-0 at the time, if either Cahill or Fellaini had scored, it could have been such a different story," Johnson explained.
"It was a turning point in the game and it could be a turning point in the season, that is how important it was.
"I really don't see why not. We've got two clean sheets in a row now, so hopefully we can push on now. We have a platform to build upon, and the victory has given us important belief."
Everton's devastated players were left muttering about bad luck and unjust fates after the derby, but they also accepted Reina's role in the eventual result.
And both Johnson and Dirk Kuyt, the scorer of Liverpool's clinching second goal, were quick to point to the class of their goalkeeper, who no less an expert than Alan Hansen has singled out as being the saviour of the side in some erratic performances this year.
"Pepe is one of the best in the business, there's no disputing that. He's certainly one of the best that I have ever played with. He's got so much to his game, really good with his feet and that's what the modern goalkeeper needs," Johnson explained.
And Kuyt was quick to join in the praise, when he added: "Pepe made a great double save, and for me he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He definitely showed that with his save.
"Everybody knows we have struggled in the Premier League and haven't done well in Europe, but we have to move on now. "It has been a very hard period for us but we have to look forward, and at least this win gets us back in the top five."
"We've all come to Liverpool to win trophies, so when things don't go your way it's disappointing. We have to put that right."
Everyone at Anfield was in agreement afterwards that a touch of good fortune - typified by Javier Mascherano's deflected opening goal - played a massive part in their important victory at Everton.
But there was equal consensus that the club must now build on that fortune and use the result as springboard for success, by forcing their way back into the top four, and challenging for the two trophies they can still win.
And Johnson issued the first rallying cry, when he said: "The lads are working as hard as they can so maybe they deserve that luck. Now it's up to us to make the most of it.†
"We know we haven't been picking up the results people club expect, but there is no better place to begin than Goodison. Now we want to get on a good run and hopefully this will be the start."