Liverpool verdict - Jurgen Klopp makes dreams come true

James Pearce has the final say after Liverpool beat Tottenham to lift their sixth European Cup in Madrid

13:42, 2 JUN 2019

James Pearce reacts to Liverpool's Champions League final victory over Tottenham

Liverpool defeated Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in the Champions League final last night to claim their sixth European Cup crown in Madrid.

Goals from Egyptian King Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi handed the Reds the trophy to widespread celebration from supporters.

Ian Doyle and James Pearce were at the Wanda Metropolitano to provide coverage for the ECHO on a famous night for Jurgen Klopp and his team.

Here's James' verdict from the final whistle as he charts how Liverpool went from doubters to believers to sky-high achievers.

Doubters to believers to sky-high achievers.

Liverpool are Kings of Europe once again after a night of pure ecstasy in Madrid.

Just like in Kiev 12 months ago, there were tears, but this time they were of unbridled joy rather than anguish.

Welcome to paradise. Ol' Big Ears is coming home to Merseyside for the sixth time. This party has started and it won't be finishing any time soon.

Fourteen years after the Miracle of Istanbul, a new glorious chapter in Liverpool's history has been written.

The deafening roar that accompanied the sight of captain Jordan Henderson lifting that iconic trophy to the heavens underlined the scale and the significance of the moment.

The name of the Reds' selfless, devoted skipper will now sit alongside Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Graeme Souness and Steven Gerrard. Henderson belongs in that elite company.

Each of his team-mates will be afforded the same legendary status having taken the giant leap from nearly men to Champions League winners.

Nervous, tense and painstaking - but just one thing matters for Liverpool after Champions League final victory

No wonder amidst the wild celebrations they grabbed a beaming Jurgen Klopp and repeatedly tossed him into the air as the delirious travelling Kop paid homage to their manager.

He's the man who has made their dreams and those of millions of Kopites across the globe come true.

He's the class act who in four short years has transformed Liverpool from also-rans into the most feared side in Europe. This is a special team with an incredible, inspirational leader.

No longer will Klopp have a lack of silverware thrown at him after breaking his barren run of six straight final defeats.

Now there's something tangible to show for all that breathtaking progress he has masterminded through shrewd recruitment, tactical acumen and expert man-management.

Forget the Premier League title race and all those agonising near misses, Klopp has followed in the footsteps of Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Rafa Benitez by delivering the biggest prize that European club football.

Klopp had vowed that this day would come. In the hours after Liverpool's heartbreaking defeat in Kiev , while drowning his sorrows at home in Formby, he was filmed chanting: “We swear we'll keep on being cool. We'll bring it back to Liverpool!” Now he's done exactly that.

And there's good reason to believe that this is just the start of a golden era for the Reds. This immensely gifted group are only going to get better. Under the guidance of Fenway Sport Group , this is a club in rude health, both on and off the pitch.

The final was far from a classic. At times it was excruciating as Tottenham threatened to restore parity following Mohamed Salah's early penalty.

But the resilience, the spirit, the unity and the defensive solidity which have served the Reds so well all season came to the fore once again.

So did the strong bond between players and supporters as the spine-tingling atmosphere of Anfield was transported to the Estadio Metropolitano.

Big players deliver on big stages and Virgil van Dijk, who broke down in tears, showed the world what a colossus he is as he ensured that narrow lead was protected. Joel Matip shone brightly alongside him as Klopp's “mentality monsters” simply refused to buckle.

What a night for young Trent Alexander-Arnold, the boy from West Derby who used to peer over the wall at Melwood to watch his heroes train. He lay on the turf at the final whistle trying to comprehend what he had just been part of. Life will never be the same again.

This is a team jam-packed with tales of remarkable personal advancement. If you handed a Hollywood producer a script based on Divock Origi's season, it would be dismissed as a work of fiction.

But it's sensational reality. The Belgium striker, whose Anfield career looked effectively over in the early months of the season, slammed home the killer second late on.

How Liverpool were indebted to Alisson Becker, whose heroics repeatedly thwarted Spurs before Origi took centre stage. It was telling that his team-mates rushed to embrace the giant Brazilian after the final whistle.

The absence of a top-class keeper cost Liverpool dear in last year's final. This time around having a truly elite shot-stopper saved their bacon. Alisson has been a revelation in his debut season – making that £65million outlay look like small change.

Throughout Saturday, Madrid had been transformed into a sea of red with tens of thousands Liverpool fans packed into Plaza Felipe II. The searing heat ensured that long before kick-off most had turned the same colour as the shirts they were wearing.

Off the pitch, it was a mismatch with Tottenham fans heavily outnumbered and drowned out by the noise and passion of the travelling Kop.

Liverpool looked primed and ready and they got off to the dream start. Inside 30 seconds Sadio Mane's cross struck Moussa Sissoko on the chest and ball rebounded on to his arm.

Slovenian referee Damir Skomina immediately pointed to the spot and despite Tottenham's protests, VAR ruled that the decision stood.

Harsh? You bet. But considering how fate has conspired against the Reds in recent major finals they gleefully accepted that slice of good fortune.

Salah stepped up to emphatically convert the spot-kick. The ghosts of Kiev had been well and truly exorcised. It was the first time Liverpool had led in a European Cup final since 1984.

Tottenham looked there for the taking with Kieran Trippier petrified every time Mane flew at him. Alexander-Arnold's sweetly-struck 25-yarder arrowed narrowly wide as the Reds sought to press home their advantage.

However, a bright opening Klopp's men lost their way. They allowed the Londoners to belatedly gain a foothold in the contest.

Liverpool were indebted to the commanding presence of Van Dijk and Matip. Van Dijk won his aerial battles and ensured that Harry Kane barely got a kick, while Matip made some crucial interceptions.

There was danger when Christian Eriksen played in Heung-Min Son but Alexander-Arnold was alert and came across to make a fine covering challenge.

Despite enjoying 61% possession in the first half, Spurs failed to trouble Alisson. At the other end Andy Robertson burst forward with menace and saw his piledriver tipped over by Lloris.

The second half brought more of the same. Spurs were in the ascendancy as they carved through the Reds' midfield far too easily. Robertson expertly halted Harry Winks before Alexander-Arnold threw himself in the path of Dele Alli's effort.

Hardly surprising given his spell on the sidelines, Roberto Firmino was off the pace and Klopp took action with Origi replacing the Brazilian just before the hour mark. James Milner soon followed for Wijnaldum.

Mauricio Pochettino played his hand with semi-final hat-trick hero Lucas Moura brought on for Winks.

Tottenham's increasing desperation ensured that Liverpool had space to operate in on the counter. Milner's low drive flew inches wide with Lloris rooted to the spot.

Hearts were in mouths when Son surged into the penalty box, but the ice-cool Van Dijk made a perfectly timed tackle.

Kopites were being put through the wringer. At times it was excruciating to watch. Alisson pushed away Son's strike and then clung on to thwart Moura before keeping out Eriksen's free-kick.

Three minutes from time all that anxiety evaporated. Milner's corner wasn't cleared and Matip teed up Origi, who drilled low into the bottom corner.

Alisson dropped to his knees and pointed to the heavens as euphoria engulfed players and fans alike.

The mission was complete. Liverpool are back where they belong. Klopp's Reds are champions of Europe.

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson lifts the trophy with his team-mates after winning the UEFA Champions League (Image: PA)

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum (Milner 62), Henderson, Salah, Mane (Gomez 90), Firmino (Origi 58).

Not used: Mignolet, Kelleher, Lovren, Moreno, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Shaqiri, Brewster, Sturridge.

Tottenham: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Winks (Moura 66), Sissoko (Dier 74), Eriksen, Alli (Llorente 82), Son, Kane.

Not used: Vorm, Sanchez, Lamela, Wanyama, Walker-Peters, Foyth, Gazzaniga, Aurier, Davies.

Referee: Damir Skomina

Attendance: 52,212

Goals: Salah 2, Origi 87.

Bookings: none.

Man of the match: Virgil van Dijk. Showed why he's the best defender on the planet. Top class.

Star comments

We beat the best team in Spain, the best club from Germany, the best club from Porto, and played evens with the best in France. A fully deserved title with some amazing football along the way. For all the complaints about the quality of the final it was a clean sheet and clear win. And now, after a few pints, we go again

Thanks lads, JK and FSG. In the end, a really great season. Maybe not champions of England, but champions of the whole of Europe. I'll take that. And for the 6th time! That's certainly something to brag about. What a team, what a team! And in the true sense, not just a collection of stars but a group of determined men all playing their part, pulling together and aiming for the same goal with that never give up spirit. You can't buy that passion, it's from the heart not out of a chequebook. And that's why we will overhaul Citeh in the end.Every single player was a hero last night but I just want to single out a few of the lads. Hendo, I am so happy to see him lift that trophy after always remaining so dignified in the face of way too much flak from some quarters, and always doing his best through thick and thin. You could see what it meant to him, and he lifted it for the team not for himself. Great man. Matip, no longer looks out of place playing next to VVD. And he cost us nothing! Origi, believe it or not, now an Anfield legend. And finally, Allison. Just stopped everything they threw at us, and in my opinion won us the game. The future is very bright, the future is very red!!

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