Liverpool beats Tottenham in Champions League final

MADRID — No tears of pain this time, just redemption for Mohamed Salah.

Only 108 seconds were needed to banish the Champions League final heartbreak of a year ago.

Once Salah dispatched his early penalty against Tottenham, Liverpool was on the path to a sixth European title with a 2-0 victory on Saturday.

And a year after defeat in the final to Real Madrid, Juergen Klopp has his first title after four years as Liverpool manager.

A shoulder injury forced Salah out of the Kiev showpiece last year.

This time it was Tottenham midfielder Moussa Sissoko’s arm that gifted Liverpool the early penalty opening — blocking Sadio Mane’s shot — and Salah converted from the spot after a video review check.

“I have sacrificed a lot for my career,” Salah said. “To come from a village, to go to Cairo, and to be an Egyptian at this level is unbelievable for me.”

On a hot and humid night, Tottenham came to life only in the final 20 minutes of its first European Cup final.

But Liverpool completed the job in the 87th minute thanks to one of its semifinal saviors.

Divock Origi was back on the bench despite producing two goals while playing in place of the injured Salah last month. But the substitute had the final big say in the Spanish capital, rifling a left-footed shot inside the far post.

“Every single player fought hard today,” Origi said. “So it’s just special.”

After two losing finals since triumphing in 2005, Liverpool finally has sole possession of third on the all-time list of European champions behind 13-time winner Real Madrid and AC Milan, which has seven titles.

Few fans — even from Liverpool — will want to watch just how it was achieved.

Both sides had gone three weeks without playing. It showed.

The sharpness was deficient, as was the ability to string passes together.

“When we look back on tonight we aren’t going to think it was a sluggish game,” Liverpool-born defender Trent Alexander-Arnold said. “We are going to think we have just won the European Cup.”

Tottenham will have only regrets as its luck run out after a season of comebacks and great escapes in the competition with a squad that had no additions.

“A little bit unlucky,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said. “To start a Champions League final from the start 1-0 it’s a tough situation; it changed completely the plan.”

Lucas Moura’s goal in Barcelona in December carried Tottenham into the round of 16. The Brazilian’s hat trick last month then completed a turnaround against Ajax. His reward Saturday was watching from the bench for two thirds of the game.

Instead, Harry Kane was thrust into the starting lineup despite 53 days without a game since limping off with an ankle injury in the quarterfinal first leg against Manchester City.

Kane was largely anonymous as Tottenham, which finished 26 points behind English Premier League runner-up Liverpool in fourth place, couldn’t even get a shot on target until the 73rd minute.

Alisson Becker scooped up a spinning shot from Dele Alli, then made saves in rapid succession against Son Heung-min and Moura with 10 minutes to go.

“We should have put more craziness in our performance,” Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris said. “It took too much time to put Liverpool in difficulty.”

The title was particularly sweet after Liverpool, which hasn’t won the EPL crown in 29 years and this season lost the league title by a point to Manchester City.

“We are doing good stuff,” Klopp said on the field amid the celebrations in Madrid. “People are always saying, ‘Why didn’t you win anything?’”

They can’t anymore at Liverpool.

Rob Harris is an Associated Press writer.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Liverpool-beats-Tottenham-in-Champions-League-13916381.php.

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