Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp (C) holds the European Champion Clubs' Cup trophy during an open-top bus parade around Liverpool.
By Paul Kennedy
As football matches go, the final of the Champions League between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool FC at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid was nothing short of atrocious.
Neutral supporters tuning in around the world would surely have been tempted to grab the remote control and see if there was anything better to watch on another channel.
But in years to come, no one will remember the game itself, but instead focus of Liverpool’s victory – their sixth in Europe’s elite competition.
Goals from Mohammed Salah after two minutes from the penalty spot, followed by a late strike from Divock Origi, were enough to see off Spurs in this all-British affair.
Jordan Henderson lifted the trophy, Liverpool fans celebrated and manager Jurgen Klopp breathed a sigh of relief so huge it will have registered on the Richter scale.
This was Klopp’s seventh major European final with Liverpool and previously Borussia Dortmund of Germany. He’d lost the previous six.
But in the early hours of Sunday morning Vietnamese time, Klopp’s trademark grin was as wide as it has ever been as he dished out hugs to all and sundry. And there were plenty of takers in red.
For Klopp’s Liverpool the game could not have started any better.
Just 30 seconds in, a cross from the left by Sadio Mane struck the outstretched arm of Tottenham’s Moussa Sissoko and the ref pointed to the spot.
Harsh maybe, but the decision was backed by VAR and Salah made no mistake from 12 yards.
If Mauricio Pochettino’s game plan was to let Liverpool have the majority of possession and catch them on the break, then he needed a plan B. His players couldn’t deliver.
The onus was now on Spurs to hunt for an equaliser, but with a clearly half-fit Harry Kane upfront, they created nothing in the opening period.
In fact the only real excitement of the first half after the early goal was the appearance of a scantily clad female pitch invader who sprinted past Liverpool’s Vigil van Dijk, a feat not many have managed this season.
After the break Tottenham continued to dominate possession but had nothing to show for it.
It wasn’t until the last 15 minutes Liverpool goalkeeper Allisson Becker was called into action making neat saves from Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura.
Time was running out for Spurs and on 87 minutes substitute Origi hammered the final nail into Tottenham’s coffin putting Liverpool two in front. Game over.
In four years Klopp has turned a bang average Liverpool team into the champions of Europe, a final they have reached twice in two years.
Next year the game will be held at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul where Liverpool famously won the trophy in 2005.
Will they be there again to defend their prize? No one in their right mind will be betting against them. VNS