Ecstasy for Liverpool in Champions League glory

Victory: Liverpool had fewer shots on target than Spurs, but goalkeeper Alisson Becker made the difference. © Getty

Liverpool held on to beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 on Saturday, in a night of triumph, tears and relief. It was the culmination of a tournament that has seen English clubs dominate Europe.

It was a nightmare start for Tottenham Hotspur. Twenty-two seconds into their first-ever Champions League final, the ball was blasted against Moussa Sissoko’s flailing hand. Liverpool star Mohammed Salah clinically put the penalty away.

An uneventful 80 minutes later, Spurs finally started to act with urgency, but their hopes were stopped in the 87th minute by a powerful strike from Divock Origi, hero of Liverpool’s miraculous semi-final win against Barcelona.

It wasn’t a picturesque victory, but Liverpool didn’t mind.

Tens of thousands of red-clad fans chanted through the streets of Madrid, their long and agonising wait for a trophy finally over.

The scenes could not be more different from last year’s final, when a floundering Liverpool were seen off by Real Madrid, with Salah leaving the field in tears, injured. This time, goalkeeper Alisson Becker’s heroics were a world away from the clumsiness of Loris Karius in 2018.

To lose this year would have been all the more painful after Liverpool missed out on the Premier League title to Manchester City, despite tallying a huge 97 points — a higher score than any Premier League winner in history, except Pep Guardiola’s record-breaking Manchester City. They topped 100 points last season.

Amid the jubilation, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was a model of composure and sportsmanship, chastising Liverpool substitutes who had removed their tracksuits to celebrate before the final whistle.

Klopp has rebuilt the team to a peak not seen since their 1980s heyday, after being brought in to rescue the club in 2015 when their season ended with a devastating 6-1 loss to Stoke.

For Klopp, it was personal too. He ended a personal run of six losses in major finals, which had seen him dubbed football’s nearly-man.

Liverpool’s glory came just days after Chelsea beat Arsenal 4-1 in the Europa League final. It is the first time ever that all four finalists in the European cups have come from the same country.

Coupled with England’s World Cup feat, pundits are heralding a golden era of English football, ending the dominance of Spanish sides.

Golden goals

Is English football the best in the world? At every level — club and national — the last couple of years have been exceptional. These teams are going from strength to strength, just as Spain’s star power is waning.

But how should you define English football? Despite being dominated by English clubs, just eight of 88 starting players at this year’s European cup semi-finals were English. From Klopp to Guardiola, pundit Lauren says that it is European managers who have “made a different Premier League”, and led English success abroad. Perhaps this is a victory for internationalism, rather than for just one country.

You Decide

  1. Is winning the Champions League such an important achievement in football?
  2. Is this a golden age for English football?

Activities

  1. Design a new kit for your favourite football team.
  2. Write your own one-page match report on the Champions League final using emotive and descriptive language —along with facts from the game.

Some People Say...

“Anyone can have a good day, but you need to be able to perform on a bad day.”

Jurgen Klopp

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in the 2019 Champions League final, which took place in Madrid. After a controversial hand-ball call, Mohammed Salah put Liverpool ahead with a penalty. They held to that lead, before consolidating it in the 87th minute with another goal from rising star Divock Origi. It was the sixth time Liverpool have won the Champions League or the European Cup, as it was formerly known.
What do we not know?
Who will win the Premier League next year. This year, Manchester City and Liverpool both scored near-record tallies in a tight race for the title. When Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola called Jurgen Klopp to congratulate him on winning the Champions League, Klopp said that they “promised to kick each other in the ass again next season”.

Word Watch

Spurs
A nickname for Tottenham Hotspur.
Semi-final
Despite losing 3-0 in the first leg of the game, Liverpool stunned Barcelona with four goals to progress to the final.
Tens of thousands
An estimated 70,000 Liverpool and Tottenham fans travelled to Madrid for the final, despite only 30,000 tickets being available.
Wait
Liverpool’s last major title was another Champions League win in 2005. At six, they have won more European cups than any other British side.
Clumsiness
The keeper made two glaring errors that handed Real Madrid unlikely goals.
100 points
In the 2017/2018 season, Manchester City became the first team in Premier League history to score more than 100 points. This year, they ended one point ahead of Liverpool on 98.
Europa League
A tournament for the top European clubs that failed to qualify for the Champions League.
Star power
Over the last decade, seven Champions League winners have been Spanish. Spain’s football has been dominated by the huge fame of Cristiano Ronaldo, who had a long stint at Real Madrid, and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

Subjects

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