My European final dreams crushed.
A four hour drive at 2am from Liverpool to London. Flight from Gatwick to Riga in Latvia. A four hour layover in Riga. Flight from Riga to Kiev.
Flight from Kiev to Minsk. A one hour layover in Minsk. Flight from Minsk to London. Drive four hours back to Liverpool from London.
That was my journey to watch Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the Champions League final and although the outcome of the match was not what I had hoped for, I wouldn’t change a thing.
For my first European final I was always going to have high expectations and with the way the team have performed this year, especially in the Champions League, I had high hopes for the game. I woke up Friday morning excited for the journey me and my dad we’re about to go on, having never experienced it and listening to all the stories he had told me about past away match trips he had been over the years, I couldn’t wait to experience all of it for the first time with him.
Fast forward to midnight on Saturday and I wanted nothing more than to be back at home in Liverpool.
Being in the stadium and witnessing the events that unfolded during the game compared to watching it on TV was completely different. As soon as that third goal went in I slumped back in my chair with my head in my hands praying for a miracle to happen.
I thought we played brilliantly in the opening 25 minutes, created some great chances and had several opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net. Then Mo Salah was what I would call rugby tackled to the floor by Sergio Ramos and the reality of the type of game we would be facing became clear. Our star player going off the field, 44 goals in all competitions this season, a number of awards, a handful of assists and he wasn’t there to take center stage for us during the important game for the last couple of years. Adam Lallana was the obvious replacement for Mo but struggled to get into the game having not played for the last couple of months due to injury problems.
When the half-time whistle blew and it was 0-0 I was still confident we would get the job done. 20 minutes later we were 1-0 down due to a freak goal meaning we now had to give everything we could. When Sadie Mane rapped that ball into the back of the net, I have never celebrated a goal so hard, thousands of fans were jumping up and down, running up and down the aisle, beers where flying everywhere, scarves and banner where neon waved in the air and you could tell that everyone was now confident that we were going to win the match.
On comes Gareth Bale. Now in my head I thought, he hasn’t been that good this season, hasn’t had much game time so probably won’t make much of an impact, one minute later he’s scoring an absolute worldie of a goal to give Madrid the lead. All credit to him for the finish as it was exceptional and he will probably never score a goal like that for the rest of his career and to do it in a champions league final was the icing on the cake.
2-1 down I was still hopeful. We still had time to score and put the pressure on Real. Mane hits the post, a few counter attacks turned into nothing and then Gareth Bale had a 25 yard shot that should of been a comfortable save for Karius suddenly ends up in the back of the net and all I could do was sink down into my chair and put my head in my hands.
Devastated. That’s the only word I could use to describe my emotions towards that game. Absolutely devastated. Even writing this piece now, three days after the game I’m still devastated.
But all in all, result aside, it was one of the best experiences of my life. When am I ever going to travel to Ukraine, Latvia or Belarus again in my life. Following this team and being a supporter of this football club is the greatest thing and I’m so fortunate to be able to have a platform like this to show my support for the team and I know we can only get better in the future and I’m 100% positive this won’t be our last final for a long time. You can’t win them all ey?
Article by Lauren Black @LaurenBlack9