Liverpool’s newest European Cup win comes on a journey that’s removed from over

MADRID — And now, after a 2-Zero win towards Tottenham Hotspur, it’s six European Cups for Liverpool. With Barcelona and Bayern Munich left behind, forward are Milan — only one away — after which 13-time winners Actual Madrid, who’ve owned the European Cup competitors like few others. No membership could be separated from its previous, however Liverpool, greater than most, are marked by what got here earlier than, from the elegant to the tragic.

The most recent title mirrored people who got here earlier than within the sense that it was gutted out and full of might-have-beens, in all probability many greater than there ought to have been. That has been the story of Liverpool’s European wins: twice on penalties, twice by a single aim, all the time with the sport within the stability till the ultimate minutes.

So perhaps it was apt that on the ultimate whistle, when many of the newly topped champions of Europe collapsed to the Wanda Metropolitano pitch, felled by equal components exhaustion, elation and the necessity for launch, the final to rise up was Jordan Henderson.

The Liverpool captain stayed down for what felt like an eternity, first with head in palms, then hunched on all fours. Solely when substitute Divock Origi put the match out of attain, with three minutes to go, had Liverpool been capable of shake a creeping concern ultimate marked by errors and fatigue may take a twist towards them.

There, for a lot of the second half, when Tottenham shook off the torpor and at last realized that in the event that they had been going to go down, it couldn’t presumably be with the form of flaccid whimper that characterised the opening 45 minutes, was Henderson. Arms flailing, legs pumping, orders barking.

He was not flawless, nor decisive, however he was the conclusion made flesh season’s work — heck, 4 years’ work — might be undone by a single, merciless second. And in his potential to endure, to concern and to excrete power from each cell in his physique, lay the important thing to Liverpool weathering Tottenham’s late revival.

Liverpool received the European Cup with a managed show that was extra about substance than type. Oscar Del Pozo/AFP/Getty Photographs

This was not the Liverpool facet we had seen for a lot of the season, nevertheless it was the Liverpool facet that wanted to point out up with the intention to win the European Cup, one 12 months after shedding within the ultimate to Actual Madrid.

“It was a giant problem for each groups, after three weeks with out a aggressive recreation, with the warmth, it become a struggle,” supervisor Jurgen Klopp mentioned. “Often, I might be sitting right here to clarify why we had performed so properly and misplaced. It is good not to try this.”

The Wanda Metropolitano is a concrete bowl, surrounded by lanes of expressways, that also feels unfinished almost two years after its opening. In reality, Atletico Madrid’s new house is about as welcoming as a port-a-potty, however lower than a minute into the sport, there was no place any Liverpool fan would reasonably have been.

Moussa Sissoko’s arm was up and away from his physique, presumably pointing at potential runners within the Tottenham penalty space, when Sadio Mane’s chip struck him close to the shoulder. Referee Damir Skomina didn’t even want VAR: underneath the handball protocol, it was as easy a penalty as they arrive.

Mohamed Salah transformed from 12 yards and celebrated with a touch of rage, his personal second of launch. Simply over 12 months in the past, his Champions League ultimate was reduce brief after a conflict with Sergio Ramos in Kiev. Now, not solely was he again, he had scored early.

The aim surprised Tottenham. You’ll be able to perceive why. For 3 weeks they’d constructed as much as this recreation, they’d visualized, they’d deliberate, they’d dreamed. And now the cartoon piano had fallen on their heads.

For the remainder of the primary half they had been sloppy and imprecise in passing and motion. Harry Kane appeared like what he was: a man who had not performed aggressive soccer in almost two months. Son Heung-Min was frantic and frenzied, his button caught on 16x, however not in a great way. Christian Eriksen was AWOL, and the much less mentioned about full-backs Danny Rose and Kieran Trippier, the higher.

Chalk a few of this as much as Tottenham’s limitations, a few of it to the psychological after-effect of the Sissoko blunder and a few of it to a Liverpool press that labored simply the way in which it does in Klopp’s thoughts: Mane and Salah rapaciously doubling full-backs and midfielders, Henderson and Fabinho squeezing up, Virgil van Dijk protecting the defensive position excessive sufficient to disclaim all however probably the most vertical balls for Son.

– Liverpool rankings: eight/10 Alisson, Van Dijk set basis for victory
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Certainly, proper up till an Eriksen shot simply earlier than half-time that landed among the many Liverpool followers, Spurs’ solely effort on aim was a Sissoko pile driver/try at redemption that additionally sailed into the second tier.

However the early aim additionally had its impact on Liverpool’s forwards. They might pop Tottenham assaults like cleaning soap bubbles, however couldn’t flip possession received again into clear-cut possibilities. Apart from the odd strike from distance — Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson had one every — there was little to hassle Hugo Lloris.

Whether or not it was a creeping overconfidence or the truth that Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld slowly obtained the measure of Liverpool’s entrance three, it felt as if Klopp’s crew had wasted a lot of the opening interval when it had a chance to shut out the sport.

Each groups went into the break realizing they might do higher. So much higher. Beforehand subdued Tottenham supporters sprang into life with a rousing rendition of “When the Spurs go marching in,” maybe remembering that, regardless of how poor their workforce had been, they had been nonetheless very a lot within the recreation.

Mauricio Pochettino’s males couldn’t let the membership’s first European Cup ultimate finish like this and they didn’t. Robertson needed to snuff out a 5-on-Four counter with a superb deal with on Harry Winks, and Joel Matip channelled his interior Dikembe Mutombo to reject a close-range Dele Alli effort.

Klopp additionally had solutions on his bench. On for Roberto Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum got here Origi and James Milner: respectively, the late-goal hero of the semifinal comeback and the tireless veteran whom Lionel Messi referred to as “burro” (which suggests donkey and which Milner, the epitome of humility, in all probability took as a praise).

When Klopp makes substitutions with a lead, the aim is to not sluggish the sport down and play on the counter, it’s so as to add recent legs, energize the press and go for the kill. And thus the sport opened up.

Milner — keyed by a kind of patented Mane zero-to-60-in-nothing-flat accelerations — shot simply extensive. Van Dijk neutralized a Son scamper in his personal, apparently easy method — 64 and counting, in actual fact. When Tottenham did pose a menace, Allison made a trifecta of stops, denying Son, Lucas Moura and Eriksen.

Then got here Origi’s second and the sense of liberation for Liverpool that comes from realizing it’s your night time, it doesn’t matter what got here earlier than. It’s not a coincidence that Klopp mentioned his overriding feeling was “largely reduction.” Silverware issues, in fact it does, however he is aware of that what issues extra is the work behind it, the journey that takes you there.

Particularly in a marketing campaign with key moments that might simply have gone the opposite method, from the semifinal comeback towards Barcelona to the dramatic 1-Zero win towards Napoli at Anfield within the ultimate group-stage recreation, Klopp has seen sufficient, to paraphrase Rudyard Kipling, to deal with these impostors — victory and defeat — simply the identical.

It’s in regards to the course of and it’s not over. For one, there may be the will to go one place higher within the Premier League and declare a title the membership has chased for 29 years. As Klopp himself identified, this isn’t the end result of something; that is an intermediate stage in a long-term plan that started together with his appointment on an October day almost 4 years in the past.

“The gamers are nonetheless younger; they’ve heaps extra to present,” the supervisor of the European champions mentioned.

The journey continues.

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