Cape Town – Wayde van Niekerk produced a thrilling display at the South African athletics championships recently, but decided to become a fan himself at the weekend by watching his beloved Liverpool in action.
The 400m world record-holder won the national title in a world-lead time of 44.17 seconds in Potchefstroom the previous weekend, and then travelled to the English city to witness the Reds take on Arsenal in Sunday’s Premier League encounter, and it was a spectacle that saw Jurgen Klopp’s side come back to grab a point.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal ran up a 2-0 lead in the first half through goals by Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus.
But the log-leaders came unstuck as Mohamed Salah reduced the deficit before halftime, and despite the Egyptian star missing a penalty in the second half, Roberto Firmino headed in the equaliser just before the end.
There was a frantic finish as Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale pulled off two dramatic saves to deny Salah and Ibrahima Konate to secure a point for the Gunners, who are now on 73 and six ahead of Manchester City after 30 matches, although Pep Guardiola’s side have a game in hand and must also still host their title rivals at the Etihad Stadium.
“It was a spectacular game in the end. How we didn’t win it with those late chances, I don’t know,” Klopp was reported as saying by Reuters.
Van Niekerk, who has visited Anfield before, posted a series of photos and videos on his Instagram account and stories page, posing with the likes of Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, as well as Trent Alexander-Arnold, while he also joined in the celebrations with Firmino’s goal, sporting a scarf of the Brazilian forward in the stands.
“Had a fun Escape. Thank you @liverpoolfc for yet another amazing experience. Now we get back to work, ready and motivated for the season,” the 2016 Rio Olympic champion wrote.
Springbok captain and fellow Liverpool supporter Kolisi, who has been to Anfield too and met Klopp on a few occasions, replied to Van Niekerk: “Without me again!!!”, to which the sprinter responded: “@siyakolisi when we going together?”
Kolisi was in Toulouse at the weekend, where his Sharks team lost to the French club in the Champions Cup quarter-final.
Joining Van Niekerk at Anfield over the next few months might be a bit difficult, as both sportsmen have hectic schedules leading up to the world athletics championships in Hungary in August, as well as the Rugby World Cup in France in September and October.
Perhaps the exciting festive season period might be their best bet, when they are both likely to be on a break…