Glen Johnson went from "zero" to "hero" when his well-taken, solo goal pushed Liverpool past Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. In doing so, he became the unlikliest star of a game that featured faces familiar to both sets of supporters.
So much of the pregame talk centered around a pair of ex-LFC men. Fernando Torres and Raul Meireles have some fond memories of playing for the Reds, but both departed Anfield under controversial circumstances. Torres disparaged Liverpool's direction and ambition. Few know if Meireles was forced out of Anfield (as he claimed) or not. With all this in mind, it was easy to forget that Johnson played for Chelsea from 2003-07.
The 27-year-old right fullback was part of the Russian revolution of Chelsea's owner Roman Abromavich. He became an England international while playing for the Blues, but never cemented a place in the team over the course of two seasons. He joined Portsmouth — initially on loan –in 2006, before moving there permanently a year later.
Johnson has has been a solid player for Liverpool, but few would call him an Anfield hero. He's spent plenty of time battling injuries and has yet to reach his best this season.
For most of Sunday's game, he was having a tough time on the right side of the Reds' defense. Whether it was by design or not, Chelsea relentlessly attacked his side of the field and he was pinned back all afternoon. Midfielder Dirk Kuyt even spent most of his 90 minutes tracking back in support of his teammate.
As Florent Malouda was giving Johnson fits on Liverpool's right side, I was ready to put pen to paper and savage the LFC fullback. That all changed in the 87th minute, when he was finally able to venture forward.
He received a diagonal pass from Charlie Adam at the top of the area. He then beat England teammate Ashley Cole with a dribble, shielded Malouda and calmly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Petr Cech. His celebration was more subdued than the occasion called for, as few players celebrate in front of their former home fans.
Liverpool earned back-to-back league victories at Chelsea for the first time since 1974-75, much to the delight of Reds' manager Kenny Dalglish.
"It's not bad when your right full-back does it," he said, "and it gives you an indication of the commitment and what the players were hoping to get out of the game. We're happy with how we've played and delighted with the three points.
"It was a great finish by Glen. I don't know what he was doing in there but it was a great finish!"
Johnson's heroics will long live in the memories of both supporters. And how soon will they forget his difficult afternoon and that Torres and Meireles only made cameo appearances?
See Johnson's goal below and review all the action from Sunday's game in our Liverpool Live Blog.
Photo via LiverpoolFC.tv