The Champions League is a tournament full of surprises and big upsets. This year was no different. AFC Ajax defied all odds to beat Real Madrid and Juventus. Tottenham Hotspurs beat Man City, a title favourite. But one thing, which has become a pattern over the last 4-5 years is, the best team always wins the finals.
No matter who the opponent is, however good their form been, the better team on paper always shows up and clinches the title. Real Madrid were the better team in the finals for four of the last five years, FC Barcelona were outright favourites against Juventus and todays, Liverpool were title favourites against a strong but underdogs Tottenham.
And the big team showed up, yet again. Liverpool sealed the deal when it mattered the most, with their UCL superstar Divock Origi scoring the second goal to clinch the game in the 87th minute. Liverpool were fortunate enough to get off to a strong start, with Mane showing his cleverness by hitting the ball straight at the brain-freeze Moussa Sissoko’s dangling hand.
It is a dirty penalty, but it is a penalty nonetheless. Mo Salah never looked like missing it, and shot the penalty down the middle, waiting for LLoris to commit to one side. After that, it was a cagey affair, with Tottenham refusing to break their shape in the first half and Liverpool holding the fort strong.
In the second half, things became much more interesting, with Dele Alli getting two clear-cut chances to pull Tottenham back in the game. But his misses proved costly. On the other end, James Milner dragged a shot agonizingly wide, with the Reds somewhat hanging on to their lead in the second half. In the 86th minute, Liverpool, with the aim of winding down the clock, earned a corner.
It was a really good cross in a dangerous area, with a scrap ensuing. Jan Vertonghen made a crucial mistake of passing the ball straight to Divock Origi, who was on the left edge of the box with a small area of freeness around him. He shifted the ball onto his weaker left foot and drilled a shot across the goal.
The ball hit the post and went in, with Hugo Lloris helpless and could not do anything to stop the quality shot. Liverpool fans went ecstatic. Divock Origi had yet agains scored a goal which clinched the title for them. After all the talk of Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and even Bobby Firmino back on the team-sheet, it was their Anfield hero who took them over the line yet again.
At the final whistle, it was a brilliant choreography of laughters and tears. Jordan Henderson lead his team on a lap of honor, side by side with Jurgen Klopp as they appreciated their faithful fans, who had been waiting for such a moment from a long long time. The scenes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, a 20 year old full-back who became the youngest player to play in the finals, hugging his brothers and parents really showed what the trophy meant to the Liverpool fans.
Hendo made his way to his father and embraced him for over 30 seconds. Tears trickled down the Liverpool captains eyes as he cemented his name alongside Liverpool greats like Steven Gerrard and Kenny Dalglish. He had shut his critics up once and for all and showed it to all that the former Sunderland man had what it takes to shoulder the weight of expectations of the club and take it across the line.
Meanwhile, somewhere far away from all this, Jurgen Klopp sat and thought, “Finally, the tag of big-game bottler is gone. Finally, glory has been restored back to the beautiful city of Liverpool. It is done, the greatest game of the season has been won. Now it’s back to the Premier League and breaking the momentum of Pep Guardiola’s men.”
Here are the thoughts of Jurgen Klopp after winning the game:
“Unbelievable! Finally! Finally we've been able to do it. It feels much better than passing it by a few inches. I'm very, very happy for all my players, our fans, our owners, for my family. It was an intense season, with the most beautiful finish I ever could have imagined.
I couldn't be more proud. The players deserve so much credit. They are all Champions League winners. Whatever happens in the future, nobody can take that away from them. After last season we were brave enough to try it again, to get to the final. We had all these difficult questions to answer in the last couple of weeks and we were cool enough to do the job tonight. So I'm really happy.
It's like this is still only the start. This club is about winning. This triumph is very important, as you can imagine. It helps our development a lot. So we can make the next step now and leave a big mark. It's brilliant."
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson:
“You go through tough times in a season, but what he has done since coming in is unbelievable. There’s such a togetherness; he has created a special dressing room. All the praise goes to the manager.
It's the best moment of my life. This is what I've dreamed of since I was a kid. Now we must keep going and kick on.”
Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander Arnold:
“It is hard to put into words. The season we have had, we deserved it more than any other team. We have done something special, we dominated the game. We will not look back and think it was sluggish game, we will see we are European champions. I am just a normal lad from Liverpool whose dream has just come true.”
Liverpool’s Egyptian king Mo Salah:
“Everyone is happy now, 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 today, all the team was unbelievable. We will see VAR next season, but I like it now! I have sacrificed a lot for my career, to come from a village to go to Cairo, and to be an Egyptian at this level is unbelievable for me.”
Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk:
"We wanted to write our own history and especially with this group of players. We have been working our socks off the whole season, day in day out. Obviously it was tough not to win the league, but to be able to get the opportunity to win this Champions League – and then to actually do it – was something to give everything for.
You always see these games on TV, you see legends, basically, holding the trophy. We are Champions League winners, so we can be proud of ourselves."
Congratulations to the Champions of Europe, Liverpool!
You Deserve It!