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The better team may have lost but this defeat will take Liverpool a long time to get over

John Aldridge


Keeper out of this world as better team lose in Paris

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Mohamed Salah of Liverpool has yet another effort saved by Thibaut Courtois

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool has yet another effort saved by Thibaut Courtois

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 28: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid interacts with Thiago Alcantara of Liverpool during the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 28: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid interacts with Thiago Alcantara of Liverpool during the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Real Madrid fans in the stands celebrate their opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris. Picture date: Saturday May 28, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Real Madrid fans in the stands celebrate their opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris. Picture date: Saturday May 28, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

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Mohamed Salah of Liverpool has yet another effort saved by Thibaut Courtois

On the night when it mattered most, Liverpool finally ran out of ideas.

There is no doubt that they were the better team in last night’s Champions League final against Real Madrid in Paris.

Yet the 1-0 defeat confirms that all the quality in Liverpool’s ranks and their superiority over their rivals counted for nothing on a night when they missed too many chances.

You have to hand it to Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois, who pulled off a series of sensational saves to give his club a 14th Champions League title.

But Liverpool had the chances they needed to get the job done and for once, they didn’t have the finishing power when the pressure was applied.

This was very similar to the game against Chelsea and Manchester City, with Real Madrid soaking up pressure and riding their luck to stay in the game.

Liverpool created plenty of chances in the first half and there is no doubt they were the better team, but the goal they needed didn’t come.

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Salah was denied time and again by Thibaut Courtois

Salah was denied time and again by Thibaut Courtois

Salah was denied time and again by Thibaut Courtois

Mo Salah should have done better with a couple of half chances, especially the header he had when he was free in the box.

Courtois pulled off a sensational save to turn Sadio Mane’s shot onto the post and it could have easily rolled into Salah’s path for a tap-in on the rebound, but the luck went their way.

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Liverpool’s energy levels were too much for Real Madrid during the first half, but this team have proved time and again this season that they can ride their luck and turn it all around.

That’s what they so nearly did on the stroke of half-time, as Karim Benzema thought he had given his side the lead.

From my seat in the commentary box at the Stade de France, I thought Benzema was offside in the build-up and then he looked offside again before he put the ball in the net.

The TV replays suggested the final touch came off a Liverpool player before the ball found its way to Benzema, but the long wait before the decision was made suggested to me that a goal would be given.

I let out a cheer when the confirmation came that the goal had been ruled out and when Real Madrid would not have deserved the lead, that is irrelevant in a game like this.

People only remember the winners after the Champions League final is played and however you get the job done, winning is all that matters.

Having missed so many chances, I was concerned that Liverpool might run out of ideas at the start of the second half.

You could sense that there was a slight dip in their intensity at the start of the second half and then they got caught for the opening goal just before the hour mark.

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PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 28: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid scores their team's first goal which was then disallowed following a VAR check during the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 28: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid scores their team's first goal which was then disallowed following a VAR check during the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 28: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid scores their team's first goal which was then disallowed following a VAR check during the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Real Madrid were set up to try and hit Liverpool on the break and it worked a treat for them as they got in behind Andy Robertson and the VAR off-side decision went in their favour this time as Vinicius Jr scored.

You can’t say it was coming because Liverpool were still the better side in the opening 15 minutes of the second half.

Yet in games of this magnitude, you need to make the most of your chances, even if they are only half chances.

Salah and Mane went close in the first half and maybe they should have done better with a couple of those opportunities and when those chances slip by, it gives a side like Real Madrid belief.

Their run to this Champions League final was hard to believe, as they came back from the dead to beat Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City in unlikely circumstances.

They probably felt destiny was on their side in this run to the final in Paris and going 1-0 ahead against a Liverpool side that had pinned them back for much of the game would only have enhanced that belief.

With the lead in their pocket, Real Madrid had their dream scenario in this game.

They started rolling around, time-wasting, throwing extra ball onto the field and pulling every trick in the book to try and break the game up. And they did.

Real Madrid also knew that Liverpool would have to press forward in search of an equaliser and they were set-up to pick them off with quick counter-attacks.

Klopp made a big call to take off Luis Diaz for Diogo Jota as he went looking for the goal and that was a big decision after the game the Colombian was having.

Diaz was fantastic again last night and Real Madrid looked terrified every time he got on the ball, but Klopp must have felt he had run himself into the ground.

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp after losing the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris. Picture date: Saturday May 28, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp after losing the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris. Picture date: Saturday May 28, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp after losing the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris. Picture date: Saturday May 28, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

I was surprised when Klopp then threw Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita on for Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara with 13 minutes to go.

While he had to go for it to an extent, those substitutions were a real roll of the dice and he knew Real Madrid could kill them on the break as the midfield had been taken apart.

I guess he had to go for it and the chances continued to come for Liverpool, even if they were not clear cut openings.

Courtois pulled off one last amazing save to deny Salah after 82 minutes and in that moment, we knew it was not going to be Liverpool’s night.

The better team lost, but they won’t care and this defeat will take a long time to get over.

Nightmare for fans at the ground

WE saw some shocking scenes ahead of kick-off in Paris last night and UEFA will have big questions to answer.

Liverpool fans who got to the game in plenty of time were being denied entry to the stadium as huge queues formed outside.

There were suggestions that tear gas was used by the French police and it should never get to that unless things get really out of control. Those of us who managed to get inside the stadium after loads of checks from officials heard some horror stories about the shambolic organisation and it shouldn’t be like that.

France has staged a lot of major sporting events in recent years and they should know how to handle an event like the Champions League final.

You couldn’t move in Paris for Liverpool fans yesterday, but you can’t get into the stadium unless you have a ticket and if people who had a valid ticket didn’t get in, that’s a disgrace.

We shouldn’t be surprised because UEFA have a habit of putting their sponsors before real fans and the lack of tickets for Liverpool and Real Madrid fans last night was a disgrace.

That creates a scramble for tickets and with suggestions that 80,000 Liverpool fans were in Paris, UEFA needs to get more tickets to real fans and away from their precious sponsors.


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