Liverpool were beaten in their final game of the season after a disappointing loss to Real Madrid in Paris, on a night marred by horrendous policing from the local and football authorities.
Liverpool 0-1 Real Madrid
Champions League final, Stade de France – Paris
Saturday 28 May, 2022
Goals: Vinicius Jr 59′
Uefa farce AGAIN and police a disgrace
Pick what’s your biggest disgrace before we even got to kick-off – you’ve got a whole lot of options to choose from.
Perhaps it’s the fact that multiple sources at the game across social media spoke of police, not stewards, checking their tickets – and others simply checking nobody at all?
Or how about the eye-witness accounts – and accompanying video – of police pepper-spraying supporters who clearly had tickets and were simply trying to get in? Families and children were also targeted.
Maybe it’s the numerous accredited media representatives who spoke of being forced into security enclosures and forced to delete their video and photographic evidence of said police ineptitude and brutality?
Or, just perhaps, we want to look at the organisers of the entire shambles, UEFA, who delayed kick-off by over 30 minutes because of the scenes outside the Stade de France…and yet opted to inform those inside the ground it was because fans were “late” getting to the match?
Where have we heard of officials lying and blaming supporters for disruption before?
They cannot be allowed to escape unsanctioned and unspoken about after this absolute disgrace of a night.
Dominance but a reminder unheeded
For 40 minutes the Reds were not just on top, but totally dominant and by a massive distance the far better side.
For five minutes Real Madrid served notice of how they have reached the final: stay in it, then sucker punch over and over. We were – by a weird rule, let’s be honest – lucky not to be behind at the break…if they weren’t lucky to already be a couple down.
Salah warmed Courtois’ hands a couple of times, Thiago too, while Mane was denied by a great save onto the post.
For quite some time we were excellent, hemming Real Madrid in, having loads of quick recoveries and putting them under pressure.
Then the reminder – not then an outright lesson – was served.
Liverpool had to heed it and be more aggressive, more clinical, or realise they could be hit. It wasn’t a lesson learned or acted upon quick enough.
Klopp’s top call on Konate
Vini did score the winner, it’s true, but Konate had no bearing nor ability to impact on him on that occasion.
The goal came after we lost an overload in midfield and down the left channel, with Vini running in behind Trent to finish.
But Konate was sensational all game: composed and in position every time they tried to loft a pass over, proactive with moving the ball forward and running upfield in possession and excellent in one-on-one situations.
He stopped the Brazilian and also Benzema more than once and fully justified the call which clearly has him as first choice now at the end of the season.
Salah vs Courtois
This was in the end the big battle, the one-on-one which defined where the trophy went.
Mohamed Salah had a world-beating first half of the season but his last third of the campaign has not been able to match those standards.
Thibaut Courtois has enjoyed his best campaign for Real Madrid and has ended it in magnificent form – topped by this final in Paris.
He made that superb first-half save from Mane, but it was denying Salah three times in the second half which earned Real Madrid the trophy: a parry away from a fierce drive into the corner, a sprint across his goal and block from two yards out, then the late, late block on a one-on-one after a classic Mo take-on.
Courtois, no question, won this final for Los Blancos.
But on a wider lens, it’s six games in a row where a goal was scored (so not the FA Cup final) that Liverpool went behind to in, winning four of the first five but not this one which mattered most.
An incredible season ends in defeat
Liverpool’s 2021/22 season has been nothing short of an odyssey, a mammoth adventure who some will now try to tell you was ultimately a disappointment.
You may choose to ignore them, ridicule them or outright tell them to do one – they are entirely and utterly wrong.
Yes, this is a bitter and desperately disappointing end to it. Liverpool were better and should have won. They lost.
But it is absolutely and totally not the defining trait of the team.
This is a club now built on immaculate foundations, current pillars of strength and future opportunity for even more growth.
Two pieces of silverware is never a disappointment, even if the two bigger prizes were missed out on by the tiniest of margins: a point domestically, a goal in Europe.
We can go away. We can hurt. We can come back next year utterly determined to go a step better next time, just like we did in Europe in 2019 and just like we did in the Premier League a year later.
Both occasions we were beaten by this year’s margins, both occasions we came back and won it next time.
It has been a wonderful season of hope and enjoyment. We’ll be back.