Salah and Origi fire Liverpool to sixth Champions League final crown as Spurs fail to shine


FOR MO SALAH and Liverpool, redemption came quickly.

A year after Salah and his team had left Kiev bruised and beaten, the Egyptian King set the Reds on the road with a controversial penalty awarded after only 23 seconds.

Mo Salah celebrated 12 months after his final nightmare in Kiev
News Group Newspapers Ltd
Divock Origi hammers in Liverpool’s second goal just five minutes from full time

Sub Divock Origi doubled their lead with a superb finish inside the box with five minutes to go.

No-one in red will care that their team were well below their best in an all-English final that was a pretty bad advert for the so-called best league in the world.

Because golden skies and sweet, silver songs of the lark are all very well.

But at the end of the storm Liverpool and six-time final-loser Jurgen Klopp needed something solid and shiny to show for their incredible season.

Just as the history books will show that Manchester City retained the Premier League title, so 2019 will go down as the year that the Reds were crowned Kings of Europe for the sixth time.

There will be no Moussa Sissoko-sized asterisk to show that the Tottenham man was desperately unlucky to be called for handball by referee Damir Skomina.

And Spurs will have to live off the memories of their glorious, unlikely run to the final for at least another year.

They will feel hard done-by, of course. They were the better team, albeit in an underwhelming game.

But the period of three weeks since their final league game that had allowed Harry Kane to recover from injury sufficiently to start the game also seemed to have robbed them of their edge just when they needed it most.

The Kane gamble didn’t pay off. The England captain was a shadow of himself, there but not there.

And this time Son Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli between them were unable to provide the quality in the final third of the pitch.

Semi-final hero Lucas Moura came off the bench but there was to be no repeat of his Amsterdam heroics.

News earlier in the day of the death in a road accident of former Arsenal and Atletico Madrid forward Jose Antonio Reyes had put the significance of a mere football match into perspective.

But last night the sporting stakes were so high for both sides that it was unreasonable to expect a repeat of their thrilling semi-final triumphs over Ajax and Barcelona.

Or was it?

With referee Skomina’s help, the start of the game was as dramatic and controversial as could be.

Even allowing for Uefa’s more hardcore interpretation of the handball rule, to award a penalty against Sissoko for stopping Mane’s cross with his armpit seemed harsh.

VAR did not come to Tottenham’s rescue as it had done in the quarter final second leg against Manchester City and Salah had the chance to put last year’s final behind him sooner than even he could have dreamed.

The double Golden Boot winner smashed his spotkick past Hugo Lloris. 1-0 Liverpool, 107 seconds on the clock.

Spurs responded pretty well, with Son Heung-Min causing some butterflies among the Liverpool fans behind the goal with his twinkle toes.

But Kane had barely had a kick until he took an almighty one from Joel Matip which Skomina decided was not worthy of anything more than a warning.

The game then settled down into the bitty, rather nervous affair you might have predicted.

Either side of a rather of a streaker, Alexander-Arnold fired a shot just wide and then did enough to stop Son from making the most of Christian Eriksen’s through ball.

The midfield was often bypassed in favour of balls into the channels, especially by Liverpool. Old-school English football, not for the purists.

Tottenham were marginally the better side, but every time it seemed something might happen, a Liverpool foot intervened or a pass went astray.

In the end it was the Reds who came closest to relieving the tedium when Andy Robertson ran half the length of the pitch before unleashing a drive which Lloris feathered over the bar.

Both Dele and Christian Eriksen wasted decent openings before Skomina put the first half out of its misery.

The second period started a bit more promisingly, not least for Spurs. Dele had sight of goal but Alexander-Arnold blocked the shot well.

Klopp’s substitutions were designed to contain. Off came Roberto Firmino, who had been as ineffective as Kane, and on came Divock Origi, while the wise head of James Milner was introduced for Gini Wijnaldum.

In contrast, Mauricio Pochettino went for broke. Moura came on with 25 minutes left, in place of Harry Winks, leaving Sissoko as the only defensive player in front of the back four.

Milner almost made it two with a left-footed shot that went just wide and Liverpool grew more and more nervous as the minutes ticked by.

Alli headed over the bar from a Trippier cross, then Alisson made his first proper save of the night, a relatively comfortable one, from Son.

The Brazilian goalkeeper justified his massive fee even more with a better stop from an Eriksen free kick.

And that was a close as Spurs came to touching the glory that Pochettino had spoken about before the match.

Liverpool and Salah dragged themselves over the line. And that was all that mattered.

Mo Salah scores his penalty after two minutes
Hugo Lloris coudl do nothing to stop Salahs penalty flying in
Getty Images – Getty
Stunned Spurs players react as referee Damir Skomina points to the spot after the ball hits Moussa Sissoko’s arm
Getty Images – Getty
Replays showed the ball deflected on to Sissoko’s arm after 23 seconds
Rex Features
Harry Kane endured a difficult first hour on the pitch
News Group Newspapers Ltd
Spurs’ semi-final hero Lucas Moura came on for Harry Winks after controversially being dropped to the bench
A busty blonde pitch invader ran on to the field of play in the first half as the game was paused


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here