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Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Liverpool
Brian Jeeves reporting from the Wanda Estadio Metropolitano, Madrid
This weekend – one year ago and having covered Tottenham Hotspur on a dramatic run through every round – Yellow Sport were at Wanda Estadio Metropolitano, Madrid, for the UEFA Champions League final…
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR’S dream of UEFA Champions League glory was ended in Madrid as Liverpool capitalised on an early controversial penalty from Mohamed Salah before clinching their sixth title thanks to Divock Origi’s late strike.
Underdogs, Spurs – competing in their inaugural final – faced a Liverpool side steeped in the history of the competition, having reached nine finals, winning five of them. Indeed, the Reds were beaten finalists a year previous, however, Mauricio Pochettino pointed out that previous experience meant very little as kick-off approached.
“There are many theories and it’s as if we had two rubbish bins,” the Argentine explained.
“Some will think that playing in the final a year ago will be key, so if Liverpool win, it’ll be down to their experience.
“As for Tottenham, it’s the opposite. It’ll certainly depend on quality. Football is down to footballers and they’re the ones who will determine which way the result goes. As coaches, we’ll now have less of an influence.
“When it all started three weeks ago, we had a big influence on preparations and the plans in terms of how to prepare the team by giving them the necessary tools.”
The Spurs chief added: “As the competition itself approaches, our ability to intervene diminishes. Now we have to keep them calm, but that’s all theory. In football, there are many theories and sometimes they’re correct, sometimes they’re not. We’ll have to wait until after the game to reach a better conclusion with more information.”
Somewhere in the region of 75,000 supporters from both clubs descended upon the Spanish capital, many without tickets. Those of a Spurs persuasion arrived Spain’s newest footballing venue hearing the news that 24-goal Harry Kane returned to the starting line-up, while semi-final hat-trick hero, Luca Moura, had to be content with a place on the bench.
Liverpool boss, Jurgen Klopp, had tasted defeat in each of his previous six finals, including the last hurdle of the Champions League with both Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool, but in an explosive opening minute, Moussa Sissoko was adjudged – perhaps harshly – to have handled from Sadio Mane. The ball appearing to hit the Frenchman on the chest before bouncing on to his upper arm – Salah needed no second invitation in thundering home the resulting spot-kick beyond Hugo Lloris.
Spurs were clearly troubled by their less than perfect start. Trent Alexander-Arnold whistled the wrong side of an upright, while any forward motion from the north Londoners was largely snubbed out by a backline marshalled expertly by Virgil Van Dijk.
Tottenham required a foothold, they needed a spark, but the usual flair associated with the Lilywhites was missing as they struggled to make any real impact as an attacking force. Indeed, only the fingertips of Lloris prevented Andrew Robertson from doubling the Reds advantage with a speculative strike from fully 25-yards.
Undoubtedly, Spurs returned for the second period with a flea in their ear, looking to press far higher up the field in a bid to stifle the Liverpool threat. Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli were snubbed out, while Kane nodded over as Pochettino’s men, at last, began to ask one or two questions.
Spurs introduced Moura for Harry Winks in a bid to recover the situation. However, it was another substitute – Liverpool’s James Milner – who was agonisingly close to all but killing the contest with a low, left-footed strike which left Lloris both stranded and relieved.
Alli headed over as Spurs continued to improve, albeit tentatively. But Reds stopper, Alisson Becker, was called upon when both Son and Moura warmed his palms in quick succession as desperation began to kick in.
Alisson produced another top-class save, turning aside Christian Eriksen’s angled dead-ball attempt, while Son will wonder how he missed the target after arriving at the far post from the resulting flag-kick.
But Tottenham’s toil was to be undone in the final stages. Origi drove sweetly past Lloris, sending the Reds contingent into raptures as their love affair with the famous old trophy resumed after a fourteen-year absence.
Alisson again denied Son as Spurs – to their credit – refused to throw in the towel. But the battle was already lost.
Tottenham – whether it be under Pochettino or in a different direction – are a club on the right lines for success. However, getting that first piece of silverware over the line once again eluded them, much to the frustrations of their expectant following.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Premier League fixture for the 2019/20 season will be released on June 13 – Lookout for updates and stories from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the Yellow Advertiser throughout the summer.
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (Capt), Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose, Moussa Sissoko (Eric Dier 76’), Harry Winks (Lucas Moura 66’), Dele Alli (Fernando Llorente 82’), Christian Eriksen, Heung-Min Son, Harry Kane Subs not used: Davinson Sánchez, Erik Lamela, Victor Wanyama, Michel Vorm (GK), Kyle Walker-Peters, Juan Foyth, Paulo Gazzaniga (GK), Serge Aurier, Ben Davies
Liverpool: Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson (Capt), Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum (James Milner 62’), Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino (Divock Origi 59’), Sadio Mané (Joe Gomes 90’) Subs not used: Dejan Lovren, Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno, Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Simon Mignolet (GK), Xherdan Shaqiri, Rhian Brewster, Caoimhin Kelleher (GK)
Goals: Mohamed Salah 2’, Divock Origi 88’
Referee: Damir Skomina (Sweden)
Assistants: Jure Praprotnik and Robert Vukan (Sweden)
Fourth Official: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain)
Video Assistant Referee: Danny Makkelie (Netherlands)
VAR Assistants: Pol Van Boekel (Netherlands) and Felix Zwayer (Germany)
Off-side VAR: Mark Borsch (Germany)
Reaction to follow….