Jurgen Klopp was left in awe of his Liverpool players after they beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 at Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano Stadium to win the 2019 UEFA Champions League on Saturday night.
Mohamed Salah's penalty and Divock Origi's late goal off the subs bench snapped a six-game losing streak in finals for Klopp. He'd lost three with the Reds before this season and referenced how those around him have "suffered" during those times:
Meanwhile, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino defended his decision to start Harry Kane ahead of semi-final hero Lucas Moura, even though the England international was just back from injury.
Pochettino defended Kane's sluggish performance and called on the media not to create a "drama":
Spurs were already struggling when Salah was unerring from the penalty spot, despite being called upon inside the first minute. The cool conversion was just reward for a player forced off injured early on in last season's final after tangling with Real Madrid centre-back Sergio Ramos. Liverpool went on to lose 3-1, and the loss of the club's attacking talisman was clearly felt.
Salah gained some redemption and referenced the events of last year when eventually speaking to BT Sport's Des Kelly. He was joined by academy product and Liverpool boy right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who could barely believe what he had achieved so soon:
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"I sacrificed a lot for this! I am so happy!" "I'm just a normal lad from Liverpool who's dream has come true!" Mo Salah and Tret Alexander-Arnold are overcome with joy after securing Champions League number six for Liverpool 🙌 🎙 @DesKellyBTS https://t.co/XHLE6Tfzyl
However, if Tottenham's fans and players felt the penalty decision was harsh, they would have found support from both former and current players, including Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire:
Even so, Spurs were unable to make their subsequent superiority from open play count. Their profligacy was duly punished when Origi settled things three minutes from time.
The Belgium international has become something of a super sub, having scored twice during the epic comeback to beat Barcelona in the semi-final second leg. Origi couldn't hide his delight at earning a maiden piece of silverware:
Origi also paid tribute to Liverpool's rousing support. While those in attendance on a hot night in Madrid cheered their team on, the intimidating noise that greeted Barca at Anfield in May provided one of the lasting memories of the Reds' heroic campaign:
The man who scored the clinching goal only entered the final in the 58th minute after being introduced for the ineffective Roberto Firmino. Klopp had started the Brazilian, who was fresh off a groin injury, but he was ineffective.
It was a similar story for Kane, given the start by Pochettino, despite not having played since April thanks to an ankle ligament injury. Yet rather than critique the performance of his out-of-sorts striker, Pochettino focused on his team deserving the win more:
Pochettino's error in judgement regarding Kane could be costly beyond this season for Spurs. Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, working as pundit for beIN Sports (h/t Football.London's James Benge), indicated the Lilywhites will struggle to replicate this season's run to the final:
It's not an unreasonable argument given Spurs will be paying off the cost of a new stadium next season. This is also a group of players highly thought of but yet to win a trophy. It may be difficult to keep Kane and Co. together beyond this summer's transfer window.
By contrast, Klopp and Liverpool figure to go from strength to strength. Young stars such as Alexander-Arnold, along with proven match-winners like Salah, mean this club is a good bet to repeat European success in the coming years.