Liverpool are crowned European champions
Liverpool beat Tottenham in the 2018-19 Champions League final. Goals by Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi gave the Reds a 2-0 victory against Tottenham in Madrid to clinch their sixth European title.
Liverpool exercised their demons by beating Tottenham in the all-English final that was held in Madrid on Saturday night. Mohamed Salah converted a penalty within the first minute of the game and Divock Origi continued his excellent Champions League form by making sure of the win by scoring a clinical finish late on.
Match referee Damir Skomina gave Liverpool a chance to take the lead when he awarded a penalty to Liverpool in the first minute. The match official believed that Moussa Sissoko had handled Sadio Mane’s cross and without consulting VAR, ordered the spot kick. Salah, who missed a large chunk of Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat in last year’s Champions League final through an injury took the spot kick and put Liverpool into the lead with barely 120 seconds on the clock.
In what was a mostly dour final, both teams were guilty of squandering possession as the magnitude of the occasion seemed to hit home to the players. But when Origi followed up from his two goals against Barcelona late in the match, there was little doubt that Liverpool was heading for their sixth top European title, following victories in 1977, 78,81, 84 and 2005. This was the first trophy that the Reds manager, Jurgen Klopp has won since being at the club.
Liverpool, while enduring a nervy time on occasions, never really looked like needing a repeat of the ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ that we saw during the 2004-05 UEFA Champions League final. A game in which Liverpool was playing highly fancied Milan of Italy at the Atatürk Stadium in Turkey. In that game, Liverpool fought back from being 3-0 down at half-time to win the game on penalties. Liverpool’s stand out performance in this year’s competition was in the semi-final. Trailing favourites Barcelona 3-0 from the first semi-final, Liverpool shocked the football world by overturning this scoreline at Anfield by securing a historic 4-0 win.
And while Tottenham didn’t receive many plaudits for their final performance against Liverpool, they too produced a massive shock by reaching the final in the first place. At the group stage, Tottenham’s chances of qualification were the lowest of the English clubs in the Champions League. Although not mathematically impossible, after three games they only had one point and sat five points behind Inter Milan and eight points behind leaders Barcelona. They somehow escaped and in their semi-final against Ajax they also produced a shock. But despite a battling display at times, especially from Son Heung-min, they never truly looked like denying Liverpool their sixth top European title.
Klopp to stay but Pochettino to leave?
Unsurprisingly, within hours of the Champions League win, reports online were stating that manager Jurgen Klopp was to be offered a bumper new deal to extend his stay at the club. With club sources believing that now the German has won his first trophy with Liverpool, a golden age which Liverpool last enjoyed in the 1970s and 1980s was about to dawn. With the club’s owners, Fenway Sports Group keen for the manager to follow the lead of key players who have signed new contracts.
Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino have agreed on extensions until 2023 and youngsters Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson also signing on the dotted line in deals that run until 2024. Klopp had been linked to the vacant Juventus managerial job, but with Maurizio Sarri expected to be confirmed as the new boss of the Serie A champions, this now appears unlikely but the club’s hierarchy is keen for the 51-year old to commit to the club.
The future of Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is less clear. The 47-year-old stunned Tottenham fans when he sensationally declared he would quit the London club if they were successful in winning this years’ Champions League. In comments before Tottenham’s semi-final clash with Ajax, the former Espanyol and Southampton manager said he would leave the club and return back to his native country Argentina, claiming that the win “would close the five-year chapter and I could go home”.
However, after losing the showpiece final, rather than reassuring Spurs fans, Pochettino has stated he will seek assurances from chairman Daniel Levy over the club’s plans. Tottenham famously went two transfer windows, that’s 115 days on inactivity while other clubs were busy strengthening their squads and Pochettino is likely to demand that funds for new players are available. However, Levy, a notoriously tough negotiator, is likely to want to tighten the club’s purse strings due to the higher than expected spend on Tottenham’s new stadium. These reassurances may not happen.