"I've waited a long time for this moment," declared an exuberant Jussiê following Bordeaux's 1-1 draw with Liverpool, while fellow scorer Adam Lallana was also pleased.
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"I've waited a long time for this moment," declared an exuberant Jussiê following Bordeaux's 1-1 Group B draw with Liverpool, the grateful chants of the home side's fans still ringing in his ears after his late equaliser.
Trailing 1-0 with nine minutes remaining, the French team needed someone, anyone, to be decisive. Willy Sagnol's men had created a clutch of chances both before and after Adam Lallana's 65th-minute opener for the Reds, but it took an instinctive finisher to stave off a matchday one defeat. And despite his horrific struggles with injury over close to two years, Jussiê remains just that – a man with an eye for goal.
Brought on with 21 minutes to go, the Brazilian striker was exactly where he had to be when the ball squirmed loose following Enzo Crivelli's juggling run through the Liverpool defence. "I'm a forward, so I just tried to be in the right place at the right time," he said. "I did have a moment's hesitation, though, because it had been such a long time since I'd scored."
Indeed, the 31-year-old had not experienced the joy of seeing a shot ripple the net since 27 April 2014. Then on his way back from a broken elbow, he was about to be sidelined again with a cruciate ligament injury, followed by a series of niggling muscle problems. His cameo on Thursday was just his third in 17 months, a long period out that proved tough to endure.
"I did ask myself questions at certain moments, but I still feel young and I received support from my family, friends and the whole team," he explained. "To get this goal was a special feeling."
It was special too for Bordeaux coach Sagnol, who likewise found life challenging without the club's longest-serving player. "When you have such a talented player and can't use him, it's frustrating for a coach," said the former France defender. "Jussiê doesn't have the same pace he used to, but he's able to make the difference thanks to his experience and technique."
Experience and technique were in evidence at the other end as well, with Lallana's goal also lighting up an intriguing UEFA Europa League contest. The England international was returning from his own injury absence, having missed Liverpool's last three games with a thigh complaint, and he broke the deadlock in style, nutmegging Pablo before finding the far corner.
"I feel responsible – I'm 27 now," said Lallana. "I was playing in a more central role tonight where I feel I can give a lot to the team and I was delighted to get on the scoresheet and contribute." Jussiê would no doubt nod in quiet agreement.