By Michael Hincks
The night Liverpool were crowned European champions for a sixth time
Liverpool beat Tottenham 2-0 in the Champions League final
Last Updated: 02/06/19 1:11am
Six times. It wasn't pretty, but will Liverpool care when recounting this tale in years to come? Of course not. Michael Hincks was at the Metropolitano Stadium to watch Madrid 2019 get added to the list.
If the semi-finals were the stuff of fairytales, then this was the difficult read you soldiered on through just to find out the ending.
Sure it hooked you in before going flat, and then provided a thrilling finale, but all that depends on which side you were backing to sit upon the throne as European champions anyway.
First things first, this was a final we never imagined we would witness.
Tottenham had taken one point from their first three group games, trailed Manchester City at the Etihad, and then fell three goals behind Ajax on aggregate.
Liverpool had lost all three away group matches, were held by Bayern Munich at Anfield, and then fell 3-0 at Barcelona.
Neither side was supposed to be here, but against all the odds, a second all-English final was upon us, and the prospect of number six for Liverpool or a maiden one for Tottenham soon became very real as their supporters descended on the Metropolitano Stadium.
Bizarrely, once the pre-match shenanigans subsided and after the Champions League anthem bellowed out, there was a storm which arrived before the calm.
Thirty seconds in Liverpool were awarded a penalty, and a minute later Mohamed Salah thumped it past Hugo Lloris for the second fastest goal in a Champions League final.
What followed was a strange 43 minutes, however. The early goal stunned almost everyone into silence, while it soon became apparent that two sides who had not played since May 12 were looking very out of practice.
By the end of the first half, Liverpool's passing accuracy down was down at 68.7 per cent - they played the fewest passes in any half they've played this season - while Spurs were without a shot on target. Harry Kane and Roberto Firmino had made 11 touches, and Giorginio Wijnaldum 10.
'It was about the result'
Trailing at half-time would not have deterred Spurs. They had not been ahead at the break in any of their previous 12 Champions League games this season (level in six, trailing in seven) and yet they were still here.
Buoyed by their previous endeavours, Pochettino's side took the game to Liverpool, but eight times Alisson batted away their attempts, while it was the introduction of another semi-final hero, not Lucas Moura, which ultimately dealt the killer blow.
Adding to his match-winner against Barcelona, Divock Origi can now call himself a Champions League final scorer, firing in a goal which came 85 minutes after their first, and one which ensured Liverpool would bounce back from the disappointment of losing last year's final and missing out on the Premier League.
In the end, Liverpool got the job done. The match will not go down as a classic, but after falling at the final hurdle twice - with Borussia Dortmund and then last year with Liverpool - Klopp knew it was simply about getting over the line and avoiding further heartache.
"[It was about] the result," he said after the match. "We spoke about it a lot, we've played better football in other finals.
"I usually have to sit here earlier and explain how I lost, but now I'm here as a winner I don't want to explain how we won, I want to enjoy it.
"Now you can say it, 97 points in the Premier League and to be Champions League winners is incredible."
And as Klopp went on to say, it will only truly sink in when they parade the trophy through Liverpool on Sunday.
Rome 1977. London 1978. Paris 1981. Rome 1984. Istanbul 2005. And now, Madrid 2019. The destination will be forever be remembered, but in truth, it was the journey that was far more memorable.
Poch: So painful but we need to keep going
The journey was equally as memorable for Tottenham, who will want to bottle up the emotion from their memorable victory at Ajax in the semi-finals and cherish that forever.
In their first Champions League final it was ultimately not meant to be, and while Pochettino was steadfast about his decision to pick Kane over Moura, the Spurs boss was keen to point out what an achievement getting to Madrid was.
"It is so painful, but we need to keep going. We need to be clever now. After a very painful situation, it is about the next period in your life. It is going to be tough, but we need to change our minds and be positive."
That positivity will take a while to come back, but when it does, they will remember this night, all of its emotions, and ensure they return to this stage as soon as possible.
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