JORDAN HENDERSON sends a raking 40-yard diagonal pass to the rampaging Stewart Downing, who volleys it first time with his right foot across the face of the goal, where a lurking centre-forward taps home from close range.
Not a scenario you could have imagined a few weeks ago is it?
For all we know the improbable combination that made up Liverpool’s third goal last Saturday may never be repeated with respect to the first two contributors, but only the hardest of hearts could begrudge them some relief from the struggle they have endured since arriving at great expense at the start of last season.
Henderson’s time at Anfield to date has been marked by timidity; at times he’s seemed almost immobilised by the fear of failure, preferring the short pass sideways or backwards rather than risk something more adventurous and give the ball away.
Seldom seen in positions threatening the goal, his few incursions into the penalty area have usually seen the ball ballooning into the stands from a hurried strike, or triggered a mild panic which has caused him to pass the ball, and responsibility, to a less well-placed colleague.
Crowd reaction to these frustrating habits has generally been one of embarrassment rather than dissent, the common refrain of ‘he’s still only young’ an attempt to offer an easy excuse for his continued failure to deliver.
Only a few weeks have passed since I suggested in this column that his chance had gone, another example of a player who had flourished at one club being unable to adapt to the pressures of life at Anfield.
Yet it is hard to deny that his recent performances have shown a marked improvement, though the confident strike that opened the scoring on Saturday had many observers checking with their neighbours that it was actually Henderson that had smacked it home.
Stewart Downing cannot claim the excuse of youth to explain his often dismal performances last season and this though his problems have seemed similar to Henderson’s in that, despite being a seasoned international footballer, he always seems a tad embarrassed to be on the pitch with the likes of Gerrard and Suarez.
Lacking the natural swagger of the best wingers, his reluctance to take defenders on and his failure to threaten the net on a regular basis strikes me and others as a problem with his heart and head rather than his feet.
But like Henderson, in recent weeks he has upped his game and suggested he might not be quite the lost cause we had all pretty much come to accept.
Is it possible that such serial non-contributors can suddenly recover the confidence and form that caused usually good judges to invest in them in the first place?
I’m reminded of the case of Gareth Bale, whose glittering start to his career at Southampton threatened to seriously stall at Spurs when he acquired the incredible statistic of playing 24 Premier League games without being on the winning side – no-one’s calling him a jinx now.
And of course we have to look no further than our own Lucas Leiva as an example of how a seeming no-hoper can become an integral part of the team.
Whether Henderson and Downing achieve similar Lazarus-like revivals remains to be seen.
I for one will want to see their renaissance sustained after the transfer window closes.