Liverpool European champions for a sixth time

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool’s celebrations moved to their home city yesterday as tens of thousands of bleary-eyed fans prepared to greet the team who beat Tottenham to win the Champions League final in Madrid the night before.

Mohamed Salah’s second-minute penalty and Divock Origi’s late strike secured a 2-0 win in the sweltering Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid to make Liverpool European champions for a sixth time.

It was a first trophy in seven years for the club and banished the memories of last year’s bitter defeat to Real Madrid in the final in Kiev.

The win also represented a personal triumph for coach Jurgen Klopp, who finally snapped his run of six straight losses in cup finals.

“We were all pretty much crying on the pitch, because it was so emotional, it was so big, it means so much to us,” Klopp said.

Celebrations ran late into Saturday night in the Spanish capital and in Liverpool city centre, as ecstatic supporters danced drunkenly in the streets singing a repertoire of the club’s fan anthems.

By lunchtime fans began streaming back onto the streets ahead of the team’s trophy parade, which is set to begin in the suburbs at around 4:00 pm (1500 GMT) and work its way towards the city centre.

  • First victory since 2005 –
    Supporters were staking out their spots Sunday lunchtime under leaden skies, already waving flags and blowing horns.

“We left home at quarter to six and we’re not moving now,” said Mark Jeffrey, 47, in a prime position with his 12-year-old son, who live around 115 miles away in central England.

“It’s another five hours but no way are we moving. I missed it in 2005 because they did the parade on a Monday so I wasn’t going to miss this year,” he added of Liverpool’s last European cup triumph 14 years ago.

The Hodgetts family-dad Mark, 47, son Shane and daughter Keira, 16 — from central England were also in place with special edition flags at the ready.
“We wanted to get tickets for Madrid, but obviously this is the next best thing,” said Mark Hodgetts.

“We just wanted to feel the atmosphere. we’ve been waiting so long – my daughter was only two when we last won it,” he added.

The team returned to tabloid headlines declaring the “Joy of Six”, in the Mail and Sunday, and “Six Machines”, in the Sunday Mirror.

Liverpool’s sixth success in Europe’s top club trophy came after wins in 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984 and the memorable come-from-behind victory against AC Milan in Istanbul in 2005.

The Sunday Times hailed Klopp for introducing steely discipline into Liverpool’s play this year, turning an all-out attacking team that often leaked goals into European champions.

“Game management is the biggest item Jurgen Klopp added to the armoury since desolation in last year’s final in Kiev,” Northcroft said.

  • Salah’s redemption –
    Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah, who scored a penalty awarded in the first minute for a disputed handball from Moussa Sissiko, said he had drawn motivation from the disappointment of last year’s final match in which he trudged off in tears with a shoulder injury.

“Before the game, I looked at a picture of last year and we were so disappointed to lose the final,” Salah said.

“I was very disappointed after that injury, I went off after 30 minutes and we lost the game. It motivated me to win today. When you know how it feels to lose, you say to yourself ‘Let’s go and win that’.”

Liverpool’s success also underlined the financial muscle of the Premier League, made rich by TV contracts that dwarf other European leagues.

Dutch central defender Virgil van Dijk, signed for £75 million ($95 million, 84.5 million euros), and Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker, a £65 million recruit from Roma, both played crucial roles in Liverpool’s success.
Klopp revealed he had received a congratulatory call from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.

Three weeks ago, Liverpool were denied a first league title in 30 years by Abu Dhabi-backed City, despite losing just once all season.

“We promised each other already that we will kick our butts next year again,” Klopp said of his conversation with Guardiola. “We will go for everything and we’ll see if we get something.”

Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino said he was proud of his team, who defied the odds to reach the final: “When you live this experience you want to do it again. I hope we can do it again in the future.”