Euro final proves to be a game too far for Tottenham as Liverpool are crowned
Champions League Final
Estadio Metropolitano, Madrid
Tottenham 0 Liverpool 2
This time there was to be no miraculous fightback from Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
The relentless defiance which characterised their entire Champions League campaign simply failed to materialise – fading away in the sweltering heat of an airless Madrid evening.
Even the return of Harry Kane could not inspire the heroics of those against-the-odds knockout defeats of Man City and Ajax.
Liverpool, far from their best, simply had too much for them in the end – helped in no small measure by the award of a first minute penalty.
They also had the game’ outstanding defender in Virgil Van Dijk and a flawless goalkeeping performance from Alisson – in stark contrast to last year when the hapless Loris Karius cost the Reds two goals in the final against Real Madrid.
Spurs will look back with immense pride after reaching the final of Europe’s biggest prize for the very first time, but Liverpool, now six times winners, looked like a team hell-bent on avoiding a second successive defeat in the finale.
Tottenham could have no real complaints, but there were tears. Of course there were. Lucas Moura, the semi-final hero spilled floods of them at the end. Chances like this do not come too often in a player’s career. Toby Alderweireld – a losing finalists with Atletico Madrid, had to suffer again.
Whatever Spurs’ first priority was, it could not have involved the scenario that unfolded in the opening seconds – Moussa Sissoko’s arm blocking a cross from Sadio Mane to concede a penalty with barely 25 seconds played.
Mo Salah, desperate to exorcise the ghosts of his final in Kiev last year, when he went off injured early on after being wrestled to the deck by Real’s Sergio Ramos, made no mistake with the spot-kick, drilling past Hugo Lloris’ left hand.
At least Spurs rallied after that awful setback to gain useful possession, even if their passing and decision-making in the final third was often awry. And Sissoko felt better after hearing Spurs chant his name for using his strength to shepherd a ball out of play.
Danny Rose saw plenty of the ball going forward but also made a crucial intervention to prevent his side from going 2-0 down, when he leapt up at the far post to head clear of an inrushing Salah – Robertson’s cross from the left having a wicked whip and curl on it which bypassed all the other defenders.
Liverpool sometimes looked threatening from distance and with long balls to the full-backs – Trent Alexander-Arnold fired a low daisy-cutter which did not miss the far post by much. Andy Robertson scampered onto a great ball wide from Virgil Van Dijk before unleashing a rocket that Lloris had to help over the bar.
Spurs improved after the break and had a half-chance when Dele Alli wriggled inside Robertson before the full-back recovered to block. And a Kane-Heung-Min Son- Alli combination looked promising but the chipped finish from Alli was comfortable for Alisson.
A lightning run by Son was thwarted by the brilliant Van Dijk and Alli headed a Kieran Trippier cross over and as Spurs sensed their best moment, Son fired low at Alisson and semi-final hero Lucas Moura – on for Harry Winks – tested the Liverpool keeper further in the follow-up attack.
With the clock ticking, Eriksen drilled a free-kick from the left edge of the area across Alisson, but once again, Liverpool’s keeper was equal to the task.
Long before then, James Milner, on for Gigi Wijnaldum, might have made the game safe with a left footer which flew inches wide – the chance created by Mane, after the striker skipped around Eriksen and charged goalwards.
As it happens, the second goal arrived on 86 minutes – with Divock Origi firing across Lloris after a decisive touch from Joel Matip following a corner Spurs simply could not clear.
Jurgen Klopp was not afraid to send on Origi before the hour was up in place of a disappointing Roberto Firmino, who did not look as fit as he needed to be for such a big occasion.
The same might be said of Kane, who only occasionally threatened to make a difference. But rusty or not, it seemed logical that Tottenham's best player should play.
The hope for Spurs fans is that this is the beginning and not the end of something. No flash in the pan. They need Pochettino to stay to keep the dream alive of glories to come in their magnificent new stadium.
Tottenham: Lloris – Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose –Sissoko (Dier 74), Winks (Moura 66) – Alli (Llorente 82), Eriksen, Son – Kane. Subs not used: Vorm, Sanchez, Lamela, Wanyama, Walker-Peters, Foyth, Gazzaniga, Aurier, Davies.
Liverpool: Alisson – Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson – Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum (Milner 62) – Salah, Firmino (Origi 58), Mane (Gomez 90). Subs not used: Mignolet, Lovren, Sturridge, Moreno, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaqiri, Brewster, Kelleher.
Ref: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)