KEIR RADNEDGE in MADRID —-┬áThe all-English Champions League Final took off like a rocket, courtesy of Mohamed Salah in the opening minutes and then fizzled and stuttered like a damp catherine wheel until Divock Origi exploded almost on the final whistle.

The outcome was Liverpool defeating Tottenham 2-0 to win the most prestigious prize in club football for the sixth time and subsequently celebrate back home with an estimated 750,000 of their fans.

Ironically their other hero was keeper Alisson Becker whose fine saves in the closing stages illustrated precisely what they missed when luckless Loris Karius was in goal – disastrously – against Real Madrid in Kiev a year ago.

Along the way – only Real Madrid (13) and AC Milan (seven) have won the cup more often – Liverpool also ended manager Jurgen Klopp’s jinxed run of six defeats in finals.

"Remember Kiev? -- "Never heard of it!" . . . Mo Salah and Jurgen Klopp celebrate

This was the second time the Champions League had seen an all-English final after Manchester United’s shootout victory over Chelsea in 2008 but this was also the first season in which the Premier League had provided all four finalists in UEFA’s two competitions.

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More’s the pity that this final was as unsatisfying a football exerperience as Chelsea’s Europa League dismissal of Arsenal in Baku in midweek.

Mauricio Pochettino, manager of final debutants Tottenham, had answered the most burning of selection questions by including top scorer Harry Kane in his starting line-up even though the England leader had not played for seven weeks after injuring an ankle in the quarter-final opener against Manchester City.

Instant drama
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Right at the outset this ‘derby’ out of time and out of place produced drama in line with Liverpool and Tottenham’s respective semi-final defeats of Barcelona and Ajax.

Liverpool had been pre-event favourites and took a dramatic step towards that goal after Slovene referee Damir Skomina penalised Mousa Sissoko in the 25th second for handling an attempt shot cross by Sadio Mane. Salah duly rapped the quickest-ever sport kick in the final’s history past Hugo Lloris.

The first Egyptian to score in a final also claimed its second-fastest goal since Paolo Maldini struck against Liverpool for Milan in 2005.

For Tottenham, conceding such an instant penalty was shattering. Salah’s conversion exacerbated the pressure and the nerves and encouraged Liverpool to believe in a manner never evident in Kiev.

Spurs would have expected Liverpool to be immediate high energy but not to such happy effect and they struggled to raise anything like their normal game. Sissoko thrashed an optimistic effort high over Alisson’s bar and Liverpool responded with a low drive from Alexander-Arnold which skimmed wide of Lloris’s right-hand post.

Alexander-Arnold was enjoying an outstanding start. He was the Liverpool defender whose quick thinking and covering foiled Heung-min Son when the Korean was sent away into space by Christian Eriksen.

The Dane skied an effort of his own on the brink of half-time but before that Liverpool had come closest to a further goal when Spurs backed off the advancing Andy Robertson and allowed him to arrow a shot goalwards.

Lloris tipped the ball over the bar for one of Liverpool’s six first-half corners which said more about the balance of first-half power than the statistics which recorded Spurs as having managed 61pc of possession.

Tottenham played with more intent at the start of the second half and prompted Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp to make the first substitution – bringing on Divock Origi in place of Roberto Firmino whose lethargy had born witness to his recent injury issues.

Change after change

Gini Wijnaldum was next to go, replaced by James Milner before Pochettino revealed his own concerns about the state of play by introducing Amsterdam hero Lucas Moura in attack instead of midfielder Harry Winks.

Perversely it was midfielder Milner who had the opportunity to wrap up the final but his 68th-minute shot slid inches wide of Lloris’s left-hand post.

Spurs had no option but to throw caution to the wind. Finally, too late it seemed, they began to put Liverpool keeper Alisson to work. With 10 minutes remaining he made two excellent saves within seconds from Son and Moura then produced an even better one from Christian Eriksen’s left-wing free kick.

Liverpool capitalised in the 87th minute when Origi jabbing home their second goal after Spurs failed to clear a right-wing corner.

Their all-round workmanship had earned the right to celebrate. Tottenham did not disgrace themselves but, in time, will regret having allowed this rarest of opportunities pass them by.

The line-ups:

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris – Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose – Sissoko (Dier 73), Winks (Lucas Moura 65) – Eriksen, Alli (Llorente 81), Son – Kane. Manager: Pochettino.

Liverpool: Alisson – Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson – Henderson, Wijnaldum (Milner 62), Fabinho – Salah, Firmino (Origi 58), Mane (Gomez 89). Manager: Klopp.

Referee: Skomina (Slovenia).

Competition top scorer: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) 12.

** A one-minute tribute was observed before the Champions League Final in memory of Jose Antonio Reyes, the former Spain, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Arsenal and Benfica forward who died in a road traffic accident, aged 35.

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