Sunday, June 2, 2019 7:20 am
An early Mohamed Salah penalty kick and a late strike by Divock Origi gave Liverpool a 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in Saturday’s all-English UEFA Champions League final match in Madrid.
But it was more the story of their coach, Juergen Klopp, finally getting his hands on Europe’s biggest prize.
Egypt striker Salah, who had painful memories of last year’s final match defeat by Real Madrid in Kiev after suffering a shoulder injury, got his side off to a flying start.
He lashed home from the penalty kick spot after a handball from Moussa Sissoko.
Tottenham, playing in their first European Cup final, kept their heads and came to life when semi-final hat-trick hero Lucas Moura came on.
But, with Harry Kane lacking sharpness after injury, another miraculous European comeback proved beyond them.
Liverpool, who missed out on the English Premier League title to Manchester City by one point, did not produce their usual whirlwind attacking game.
But they sealed a sixth European Cup triumph with an arrowed finish from substitute Origi in the 87th minute.
“Everyone is happy now,” said a delighted Salah.
“I am glad to play the second final in a row and play 90 minutes finally. Everyone did his best today, no great individual performances, all the team was unbelievable.”
Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold added: “It is hard to put into words. The season we have had, we deserved it more than any other team.”
The win was sweet redemption for Salah and especially German coach Klopp, who had lost on his last six appearances in major finals.
These included Champions League showpieces with Borussia Dortmund in 2013 and Liverpool last year.
His opposite number Mauricio Pochettino took a bold but ultimately misguided gamble in fielding Kane.
He had only returned to full training a week ago after almost two months out with a serious ankle injury and struggled to influence play.
Kane was far from the only player who lacked sharpness in a game of few moments of real quality, a possible effect of both sides not playing any competitive games for three weeks.
Spurs put Liverpool under real pressure in the latter stages as Dele Alli headed over and Son Heung-min and Moura forced impressive saves from Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker.
Origi, one of Liverpool’s heroes in their stunning semi-final second leg turnaround against FC Barcelona, then killed the game with a ruthless finish into the bottom corner.