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Mo Salah, Divock Origi Goals Give Liverpool Champions League Title vs. Tottenham

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2019

Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah gestures during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium in Madrid on June 1, 2019. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
JAVIER SORIANO/Getty Images

Liverpool won the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2005 thanks to a 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in Saturday's final at Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

Mohamed Salah's early penalty, after Moussa Sissoko was flagged for handball in the box, and a late second-half goal by substitute Divock Origi provided ample consolation for the Reds, who missed out on winning the Premier League title to Manchester City despite earning 97 points.

Liverpool still haven't won a domestic title since 1990, but they have won this trophy six times, twice more than any other English club, in its guises as both the European Cup and Champions League.

   

Kane Mistake Proves Pochettino Not Ruthless Enough for Major Trophies

It was always going to be a tough decision whether to risk Harry Kane after his ankle injury. Manager Mauricio Pochettino would have been wise to hedge his bets with the striker who hadn't played since the quarter-final first leg against Manchester City back in April.

Yet Pochettino rolled the dice and played a far from match fit Kane from the start. It backfired and showed Pochettino isn't ruthless enough to win major trophies.

Kane floundered from the off, barely getting involved during a turgid first half:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Harry Kane recorded just seven touches in the opening 30 minutes, fewer than any other Spurs player on the field. He's struggled to get into the game so far. #UCLFinal https://t.co/rrYbLQaa2H

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

11 – Harry Kane had just 11 touches during the first half of the Champions League final; fewer than any other Tottenham player. Phantom. #UCLfinal https://t.co/4K1NL0qx2v

Yet while Liverpool chief Jurgen Klopp acted to correct his own misjudged gamble on striker Roberto Firmino, substituting the Brazilian for Origi two minutes before the hour mark, Pochettino persisted with the out-of-sorts Kane.

Paddy Power @paddypower

I don't care if he isn't 100% fit - Spurs should bring Harry Kane on for the second half.

Handling Tottenham's star player and his obvious desire to play in this showpiece game demanded a ruthless touch. Pochettino had to stay firm and hold Kane back to preserve the in-form partnership of Heung-Min Son and Lucas Moura.

The latter was cruelly consigned to the bench to make way for Kane, despite his hat-trick heroics to beat Ajax in the second leg of the semi-finals. It was a bonus for Liverpool, who surely wouldn't have relished tracking the prolific winger's pace in the stifling heat of the Spanish capital.

Goal @goal

Two substitutions from Liverpool so far, but none from Spurs. Where's Lucas Moura? #UCL https://t.co/vwpUCCDrfF

Pochettino finally summoned Moura on 66 minutes, but only for busy midfielder Harry Winks. Without Moura running through the middle, into spaces Kane was occupying, Tottenham continued to lack enough impetus in attack.

Moura and Son's pace and varied movement represented the ideal weapons to exploit Liverpool's fondness to play a high defensive line. Instead, Kane gave Virgil van Dijk a static target and a way to keep play in front.

Pochettino's failure to make the tough but necessary call spoke to the club's inability to win a major trophy. When it comes to the crunch, Spurs aren't aggressive enough, neither on the pitch nor in the dugout.

If this precocious squad is ever going to earn silverware, it might have to be without Pochettino calling the shots.

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