Spurs fall short in quest for Champions League glory

Saturday 1st June 2019  Tottenham 0-2 Liverpool

As the dust settled on a surprisingly tame night in Madrid, heartbroken Spurs fans were left to reflect on what could have been. While few could begrudge Liverpool a piece of silverware after the season they have had, unfortunately that didn’t make the pill any easier to swallow for Spurs. The truth was that, for large spells of the game, the opposition were a shadow of the side that dominated the Premier League all season.

Spurs were dealt an early blow with a Mo Salah penalty just two minutes into the game. The season’s unlikely hero Moussa Sissoko found himself at the centre of the controversy, punished for a disputed handball. The goal killed the game as a spectacle early on and struck the tone for the remainder of the match, with Liverpool content to sit behind the ball and contain Spurs.

Despite Allison being forced into a few decent saves from Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura and Christian Eriksen, we never really looked like scoring. Our best chance was likely a corner which broke through to Lucas, who scuffed his effort and arguably should have made a better connection, with the chance fizzling out as Son’s attempt to turn it into the net was ruled offside.

Ultimately, Spurs’ failure to capitalise on and exploit Liverpool’s vulnerabilities was key. Divock Origi delivered the killer blow to secure Klopp’s first trophy as Liverpool manager by firing a stinging, low shot past Lloris with just a few minutes left on the clock.

Harry Kane gamble doesn’t bear fruit

One of the biggest talking points will undoubtedly be Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to start Harry Kane in place of semi-final hero Lucas Moura. On the sidelines since picking up yet another ankle injury in early April, many were concerned that Spurs’ talisman may be lacking the sharpness which Moura displayed in abundance three weeks ago on that memorable night in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, on this evidence, they were right to be concerned.

Our star frontman had absolutely no impact on the game and was often bullied by the formidable Van Dijk. Many felt Lucas, in arguably the form of his life, should have started the game, and Spurs certainly looked like a more dynamic unit against Ajax in the semi-final than they did with Kane spearheading the attack.

The biggest difference between the two teams was that Liverpool contained us very well. We looked bereft of ideas whenever we had the ball, and never really opened them up. Eriksen huffed and puffed with no real end product while Alli, despite his best efforts, had an off-night where very little came off for him.

There was definitely a sense of missed opportunity for Spurs and the result was all the more hard to take as Liverpool were off the pace. The unusually long 3-week wait until the final seemed to hamper both teams. However, when it came down to it Liverpool were able to find a way to get over the line.

Poch’s verdict

“Now it’s impossible to talk. We are all very disappointed. The season was fantastic. We need to feel proud. I feel so proud of all the players, the fans and the Club.

“It was a final and we’ve spoke in the past that a final is to win, not just to play well. It’s about the details. It’s not about to deserve or to play well, it’s to win, because nobody is going to remember that we maybe deserved a little bit more.

“The penalty changed the plans completely. It had a massive impact for the team which we had to manage but the team was great, because of course it was difficult after that. Overall I thought we dominated. We created chances but they were more aggressive and clinical in front of goal.

“It’s so painful but at the same time we need to be calm in the way that we talk and analyse things because the season was fantastic and we need to feel proud, to finish in the top four and play in the Champions League Final for the first time in the history of the Club.”

Spurs v Liverpool Man of the Match

In a final without any stand-out performances, the man of the match has to go to Liverpool keeper Allison, who dealt well with the few chances we created and ensured there was no danger of a Spurs goal that may have changed the whole complexion of the tie.

And the Spurs go marching on

The all-premier league final failed to live up to the hype and certainly wasn’t the showpiece that competitors and neutrals alike had hoped for. Following a string of breathless semi-finals in which fans were treated to a thrilling display of iron will and goals galore, the main event proved to be underwhelming in comparison. For days, weeks and months the Champions League had been the only thing for Spurs fans to cling on to in a season that was slowly unravelling. In the end, the adventure didn’t have the fairy tale ending we had dreamed of.

For Spurs fans though, there is plenty to take heart from. The incredible feat of reaching our first Champions League final without strengthening the squad displays a togetherness and a grit that is distinctly ‘un-Spursy’. Poch will be counting on Daniel Levy digging deep into his pockets this transfer window to provide some much-needed investment, and will look to use the buzz around the new stadium and our unexpected run to the final to mount a fresh assault on the league with renewed vigour next season.


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