Liverpool secured top spot in Champions League Group D thanks to a 1-0 win over Ajax on Wednesday night, and some of the lesser lights in the Reds’ squad stepped up when it mattered most.

The all-important goal came when Curtis Jones turned home Neco Williams’ cross. As OptaJoe noted, it was the first time two teenagers had linked up to create a Champions League goal for Liverpool.

But just as important was the clean sheet at the other end, and Caoimhin Kelleher deserves enormous credit for his part in delivering that.

Having only previously played in the domestic cup competitions, and mostly against League One opposition or with a youth team at Villa Park, this was unquestionably the biggest match of his career. He didn’t disappoint.

And while all clean sheets are obviously welcome, some are far easier to obtain than others. For instance, while Midtjylland failed to score at Anfield they had just one shot on target, so were always unlikely to beat Alisson Becker when only having a single attempt to do so.

By contrast, Liverpool were handsome 5-0 winners when they played in Bergamo but Atalanta managed to have six shots on target that night.

The Reds were worthy of their victory – they tested Marco Sportiello with 12 efforts of their own – but the score line would have been less emphatic if their Brazilian number one was not on his game.

At Anfield on Wednesday night, the visitors fell in between the above two examples by having four shots on target, and Kelleher was equal to them all.

The aforementioned match in Italy as well as the away game with Ajax are the only two matches in league or Europe this season in which a Reds’ goalkeeper has made more saves.

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Even then, some shots on target are far easier to stop than others. Opta break the goal frame down into six sections: high and low in the left, centre and right of the goal.

Kelleher made two saves in the top half of the goal, which was the joint-most by any Liverpool goalkeeper this season. Adrian made two against Lincoln City, before he did likewise in the Netherlands against Wednesday’s opposition.

The Reds’ young Irish stopper kept out a first half effort from Noussair Mazraoui which was destined for the top right corner of the goal, before keeping out an 87th minute header from legendary striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Of course, we shouldn’t go overboard, as it was only one match. According to Statsbomb’s post-shot expected goal data on FBRef.com, it was the second easiest clean sheet which the Reds have picked up in the two main competitions in 2020/21, after the home game with Midtjylland.

But of course that takes no account of the pressure the Irishman will have felt when making his first Champions League start, and especially when stationed behind a makeshift back four.

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And while his shot stopping will capture the headlines, Kelleher also showed a willingness to come off his goal line to capture the ball.

He made two high claims (per WhoScored) which is twice as many as Adrian has made in his three league and European matches this season.

What’s more, the one high claim the Spaniard made was in the six yard box (against Ajax in the return fixture) whereas both of Kelleher’s were in the vicinity of the penalty spot.

He appears to be the more proactive of Alisson’s two deputies, which probably makes him better suited to the job in the future.

As Jurgen Klopp said after the match, “he did a really good job but tonight we needed the package of Caoimhin and he is a top talent, really good shot-stopper and top footballer.”

Kelleher certainly proved that without question against Ajax.