They've done it. Liverpool are six time European champions after beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on Saturday night, in a game all aboout tension, professionalism...and a penalty decision that'll be talked about in north London for a lifetime.
It's Jurgen Klopp's first trophy as the Reds' manager. And while the game was drab to say the least,
Key Talking Point
Never seen anything like that, have you? A Champions League final, 25 seconds in, and a penalty which changes the entire direction of the game.
Rosetti continued…. “It is different if the defender is challenging or playing the ball and it rebounds. But if he is looking to block a cross or a shot on goal and the player is trying to spread his body then it is a handball.” #LFC #THFC #UCLfinal— Jacqui Oatley (@JacquiOatley) June 1, 2019
Mo Salah stuck it down the middle, but the award was obviously a huge point of contention. It wasn't a popular decision among the Spurs contingent, but we've seen it enough times this season now, so going to repeat the ruling from UEFA in layman's terms.
If the ball hits an arm that is away from the body, making the surface area bigger, it's a penalty. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it is. There was a bit of armpit and chest in there, sure, but enough of Sissoko's arm to award the kick.
Have to Address it, Don't We? - The Harry Kane Decision
Mauricio Pochettino was damned if he did, and damned if he didn't. He did decide to start Harry Kane, dropping Lucas Moura in the process.
Kane was ineffectual in a game where Spurs dominated possession, though he received the ball into feet well enough as Liverpool defended deep. Still, that's not where you want him.
It was the right decision to play him. They were never getting another chance and you need your talisman on the pitch for games like this. It just didn't go Spurs' way.
It's a chance that's passed him by.
Tottenham Player Ratings
|Hugo Lloris||6 - Couldn't do anything about the goals.|
|Kieran Trippier||5 - Let Mane in behind & led to the penalty. Terrorised early on.|
|Toby Alderweireld||7 - Solid as ever but ended up on the losing side.|
|Jan Vertonghen||7 - Same as his mate. Very good, but not good enough tonight.|
|Danny Rose||6 - Offered a lot going forward but passes weren't as crisp as needed.|
|Moussa Sissoko||6 - Unlucky with penalty. Ability to carry the ball through midfield important.|
|Harry Winks||7 - Incredibly calm in the areas he had possession. Off for Lucas, 66.|
|Christian Eriksen||5 - Did what Spurs fans have been slating him for. Anonymous.|
|Son Heung-min||7 - Looked sharp. Spurs' biggest threat, but couldn't make the difference.|
|Dele||6 - Not his night. Off for Llorente, 82.|
|Harry Kane||6 - Didn't have the desired impact. Disappointing.|
|Lucas Moura||5 - Didn't have the desired effect & wayward with some passes.|
|Eric Dier||5 - Replaced Sissoko.|
Key Talking Point
Let's just give a shout out to Liverpool for how far they've come on this journey under Jurgen Klopp. He took a team that were in disarray for years, in complete limbo, and gave them a belief that carried them to the top of the European tree again.
Belief takes you so far. And when you throw a genius footballing mind at the summit to orchestrate everything tactically, sign players who fit your profile and just let them go and be themselves, the sky's the limit.
It's six for Liverpool in Europe now, and Jurgen's first. It'll be the first of many if they keep going like this.
90min Commends - Liverpool's Organisation
Liverpool were by no means at their scintillating best and their game was akin to a performance from the club who play their games at this stadium every week - Atletico Madrid. That's a huge compliment, by the way.
Jurgen Klopp's Reds have been so good this season because they're able to defend. They have the firepower in attack to blow any team in the world away, but if they want to play conservatively - as they've shown so many times this season - they're incredibly capable. Going into the lead so early on can have an odd effect on some, but Liverpool were not moved.
Klopp and Liverpool deserve so much credit for spotting the areas which needed improvement and addressing them since the start of last year. They're six-time European champions for it.
Liverpool Player Ratings
|7 - Great distribution as ever and made some good saves at the end.|
|Trent Alexander-Arnold||7 - Always a threat in attack and defended well.|
|Joel Matip||8 - Distributed the ball brilliantly and a key part of a solid defence.|
|Virgil van Dijk||8 - Incredible leader, incredible defender.|
|Andrew Robertson||8 - Endless energy and such a good output.|
|Fabinho||8 - Anchored the midfield and swept up everything.|
|Georginio Wijnaldum||6 - Worked hard without offering much in attack. Off for Milner, 62.|
|Jordan Henderson||7 - The UCL winning captain was at his typical level.|
|Mohamed Salah||7 - Aside from the penalty, didn't see much of him. We didn't need to.|
|Roberto Firmino||5 - First game after injury, but didn't really contribute. Off for Origi, 58.|
|Sadio Mane||7 - Sensational movement. Tortured Trippier in the first half.|
|Divock Origi||8 - What a finish. Settled all the nerves.|
|James Milner||6 - Just the man you want to bring on to defend a lead.|
|N/A - Late substitution to shore things up.|
90min's Player of the Match
In a game where no player really stood out going forward, you just can't overlook how important Virgil van Dijk has been to this team, and the impact he has on it. With the Dutchman the defensive lead, they kept Spurs at arm's length for the duration.
Van Dijk hasn't been dribbled past by an opponent in 64 games in all competitions (cheers Opta). That is insane.
He's the best defender in the world, without question, and he's now a Champions League winner.