Saturday’s stunning penalty save to hand Liverpool three points over Stoke was not the first time Simon Mignolet had denied an opponent from 12 yards — but it certainly prompted the loudest reaction.
The Belgian’s sprawling save low to his right from Jonathan Walters‘ spot-kick, and his subsequent reflex stop to keep out Kenwyne Jones, ensured the Reds began a season with victory for the first time in five years.
“The penalty save was an incredible moment because it more or less meant we had won the game,” the 25-year-old said. “It doesn’t really happen that a goalkeeper directly secures the points. You can’t score goals so for something like this to come around is great and will help my confidence for the next game.
“I saved a penalty in the Tyne and Wear derby [Newcastle-Sunderland] and believe me that was loud. But this was more about the moment, my first game as a Liverpool player. It was unbelievable to help out on my debut and I am a happy man.
“You study those things as a goalkeeper. All credit to the guys at the training ground who helped me analyse those things. You have to be lucky that you dive the same way but I was very pleased.
“It was the debut that you dream of. I had hoped to do something like that but you never really think that you will. Saving a penalty in the last minute of your first game for Liverpool is just amazing.
“I’ve felt at home from the very first moment I arrived here. The way people have treated me has been amazing. When you play your first Premier League game and can do those things it makes it easier.
“I was a bit nervous in the first 15 minutes with it being my debut but this will help me settle and means the next game will be much easier.”
Mignolet’s heroic moment was required after vice-captain Daniel Agger was penalized for handball in the penalty area, and the Dane later tweeted his thanks to the Reds’ new goalkeeper. But the stopper insisted credit should be given to the whole team.
“Daniel had helped us many times before that,” Mignolet said. “You don’t keep a clean sheet on your own. The whole back four did a magnificent job. [Daniel] Sturridge scored the winner, I saved a penalty. Next week someone else will do something.
“As a team I felt that we did really well and we deserved more than one goal. Asmir Begovic had an unbelievable game for them.
“There is an unwritten law in football that if you play well and don’t take your chances, there will be one or two chances for the opposition. I was thinking that the longer the game went on. I had a feeling they would equalize in the last minute but luckily it didn’t happen. The main thing is that we kept a clean sheet and got three points.
“When the penalty was awarded everyone was thinking we were only going to get a draw.
“It can have a damaging effect if you play well and don’t win. But we can now go to the next game relaxed. We can do the same things we have done, rather than feeling anxious that we have to win.
“Winning hasn’t happened too often for Liverpool on the opening day of the season in recent years.
“This is very important to set our season off but let’s keep our feet on the floor. We have only got three points and scored one goal. Now we have to forget about what happened and concentrate on Aston Villa.”
Photo via LiverpoolFC.com