Liverpool broke their seven-year trophy drought on Sunday morning with a 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid, securing the club’s sixth Champions League title.
The game was brought to life with little over 20 seconds on the clock when Sadio Mane’s cross struck the arm of Moussa Sissoko, allowing Mohamed Salah to fire home from the penalty spot.
The Reds were off to the perfect start but it was Spurs that began to settle into the game and control possession, while long-range drives from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson represented the two biggest chances at a second goal in the match before half time.
Tottenham controlled possession but struggled to carve out clear cut opportunities as Son Heung-min was denied a one-on-one by a desperate late challenge from Virgil van Dijk, while Dele Alli and Lucas Moura had chances fall to the grateful hands of Alisson in the Liverpool goal.
In the end it was to be Liverpool’s evening, as substitute and semi-final hero Divock Origi lashed a left-footed strike into the bottom right corner late on, sparking delirium from the travelling Liverpool support.
The wait is over
No more can people use the argument that Jurgen Klopp has not won anything at Liverpool, no longer can the Reds be ridiculed or being trophyless.
Since the 2006 Community Shield, Liverpool have come second in the league after leading at Christmas on three occasions, have lost five finals – including three in Europe – and won just one trophy, being a penalty shootout victory over Cardiff in the 2012 League Cup final.
That was until this game, where Klopp led his group of players to the promise land and to the pages of vast history that surrounds Liverpool Football Club.
After coming so close to lifting the Premier League this season, the Reds deserved this victory for all of the quality football they played and all of the effort they put in throughout the campaign.
The feeling around the club is that this will merely be the beginning of a string of trophies to come, but they must ensure that they keep winning.
Even if it is the Community Shield or the UEFA Super Cup next season, once you become a winning team, you must remain a winning team and keep consistently securing silverware.
The ultimate prize will continue to be the Premier League, but it is imperative that the Reds now start adding FA Cups, League Cups and the like to their trophy cabinet to return the culture of winning that the club has dearly missed in the 21st century.
Banishing the demons of Kiev
From an individual and a wholistic club point of view, Liverpool shoved the pain of their defeat in last year’s Champions League final to the back of their minds as they claimed success this time around.
Salah’s record-breaking debut season in Liverpool red ended in tears and disappointment when he was forced off early in the match due to a shoulder injury, but within two minutes of this one he had the goal on the big stage that he so desperately craved.
Two errors from Loris Karius also consigned Liverpool to defeat 12 months ago, but with Alisson in goal this time around, the Reds became the first team to keep a clean sheet in a Champions League final since Inter Milan in 2010.
The Brazilian shot-stopper was superb in this match and probably Liverpool’s man of the match as he made a string of key saves to keep the game at 1-0.
Tears of despair have been replaced with tears of joy this time around for all involved with the club, who will happily forget about that night in the Ukrainian capital after tasting success in Madrid.
Disappointment, but on to the future
Tottenham were never meant to make the Champions League final; they were not even really meant to make it out of the group stages after gathering just one point from their opening three matches.
On five different occasions during this European campaign, the Londoners were 20 minutes away from being eliminated from the competition but each time they came back from the brink to advance.
Despite failing to score and losing the game, Spurs made an excellent account of themselves and on the entire balance of play they more than matched the Reds.
Mauricio Pochettino can be, immensely proud of his players and of the club, who regardless of the fact they did not spend a single penny in the transfer window defied all odds to make the top four again and go all the way to the final in Madrid.
Next season will prove as something of a ‘make or break’ season for Tottenham. With their new stadium built and ready to host a first full season, Pochettino needs to be backed with funds in the transfer market so he can develop the squad to close the gap on Liverpool and Manchester City and ensure that making the Champions League final is a more regular occurrence.
Starting Kane a mistake
Star striker Harry Kane had not featured for Tottenham since the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final tie against Manchester City and was thrust back into the starting lineup in the final.
The way he played was perhaps indicative of this being a wrong decision from the Spurs staff, as Kane toiled fruitlessly for touches of the ball in and around the goal and was dominated by Joel Matip and van Dijk.
The Englishman looked a step off the pace, and in hindsight now it seems dropping semi-final hat-trick hero Lucas was a costly error.
Kane will now link-up with his England colleagues as the Three Lions chase Nations League glory, with their semi-final against Netherlands taking place this weekend.
Defence wins titles
For so many years Liverpool’s defence was incredibly scrutinised for hamstringing the development of the team, but that is a thing of the past.
Liverpool did not play well in this game, they were lacklustre in possession and lacked purpose on the ball, but it became apparent that was exactly what Klopp wanted.
The German would have known that his team could shut out a Spurs side with an only half-fit Kane and inconsistent performers in Alli and Eriksen, and that was exactly what happened.
Joel Matip continued his incredible resurgence throughout the campaign with a dominant display, while the rest of the backline and Fabinho in front of them were staunch as ever.
The most telling evidence of how Klopp has transformed this Liverpool side, the incredible Reds defence will be an immovable force for years to come.