Liverpool emerged, in the end, comfortable winners against Tottenham in the UEFA Champions League finals. These are the 5 players from both sides who had a say in the final result.
Here are the 5 most influential players in the match – 3 for Liverpool that can be credited with their monumental victory and 2 for Tottenham whose lack of performance was central to them losing the game.
#1 Alisson Becker – Liverpool
To say that Liverpool only won the match because of their goalkeeper would be erroneous but he certainly played a pivotal role towards that end.
The statistics at the end of the match displayed 8 shots on target for Tottenham and Alisson was the sole reason why they didn’t manage to trouble the scorers despite that.
Granted, most of those shots were either directly at him or near enough that you’d expect a half-decent goalkeeper to get to them, but those saves still had to be made.
And there were a couple of pretty solid ones in there too.
#2 Harry Kane – Tottenham
The forward’s return to the Tottenham starting line-up was considered to be a big positive for the London side but he turned out to be one of their weakest links on the night.
Kane hardly worked himself into the game and his lack of match fitness shone through apparently as he was marshalled, easily for the most part, by Virgil van Dijk.
He hardly offered a goal threat and in fact, only mustered 40 touches of the ball in the whole game – the lowest for a striker who played the full 90 minutes in any UCL final in history.
That statistic alone casts a huge shadow over Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to start Lucas Moura – hat-trick hero in the semifinals – from the bench.
#3 Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool
Liverpool’s defensive rock was yet again in the thick of things as he marshalled a pragmatic performance from the team to repel Tottenham’s attack throughout the 90 minutes.
He kept Harry Kane under wraps in the game and his recovery block against Son Heung-min, when he matched him stride for stride, was crucial to prevent Tottenham from drawing level and getting a foothold in the game.
And to put things in perspective, his imperious performance on the night capped off a stellar season that could realistically see him enter the Ballon d’Or conversation should Lionel Messi falter in the Copa America with Argentina.
#4 Moussa Sissoko – Tottenham
Sissoko had a decent game overall; he screened the Tottenham back four well from Liverpool counter attacks and drove Tottenham’s attacks from deep when he had the chance to.
But it was his moment of madness right at the beginning of the game that dug his team into a hole they could never really pull themselves out of.
Sissoko’s basketball-style lane defence – which saw him attempt to throw off Sadio Mane by waving his hands animatedly inside the box – led to an entirely avoidable handball and subsequent penalty that Mohamed Salah dispatched with ease.
Liverpool gained an advantage really early on and they closed out the game from there, hardly giving Tottenham any opportunity to pry themselves back into the contest.
#5 Divock Origi – Liverpool
It must be a kick in the teeth knowing that despite scoring two goals to help Liverpool mount a tremendous comeback against Barcelona in the semifinals, that you’d be starting the finals on the bench.
But that thought – if it did cross his mind at all – wasn’t manifested in Divock Origi’s performance as the Belgian forward came on for the ineffectual Bobby Firmino to score Liverpool’s second goal of the night in the 87th minute and seal the game as a contest.
It wasn’t just that he scored – it was also that his attitude to impact the game after being left out of the starting line up for an underpar Firmino was what you’d expect from a consummate professional.
Not to mention, his well taken left-footed strike came at a juncture when it seemed as though Spurs were inching closer to an equalizer.
Overall, a good day for Divock Origi and certainly for Liverpool. (Fox Asia)