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Three seconds of Virgil van Dijk majesty and the anti-Karius — Liverpool’s edge in a flat final

£142million worth of talent ensured a clean sheet in Madrid

It happened in the 75th minute.

Son Heung-min, Spurs’ most dangerous threat on the night, collected the ball in the centre circle and accelerated towards goal.

A capable finisher with both feet, the South Korean shifted through the gears with a left-foot equaliser on his mind.

Willed on by the white half of the stadium and a gust of collective will from those watching in north London, Son appeared to do the impossible by dribbling past Virgil van Dijk.

A defining moment

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A defining moment

With Alisson rooted to his line, the goal was at the Spurs No7’s mercy.

And then suddenly, it wasn’t.

Van Dijk, calm as you like, simply stepped in to make the tackle; he hadn’t been dribbled past after all.

For the Dutchman, it was just another attacked repelled, but the Liverpool fans recognised it for what it was, the most important recovery of his career.

As with most of Van Dijk’s best moments, it looked rather innocuous, something unremarkable — as if to ask, what’s all the fuss about?

That’s because he cares not for needlessly dramatic defending – last-ditch slide tackles, clearances off the lines, etc – he does everything with a brutal economy of energy.

Watching him sprint to catch up with Son made you realise just how composed he’s been all season — imperious at 60%.

 

Then there’s Alisson.

The Brazilian made eight saves in Madrid, none you wouldn’t expect him to make but a world-class display of concentration nonetheless.

Comparisons to Loris Karius’ performance in Kiev are inevitable.

The German was at fault for two of Real Madrid’s goals a year ago, evidence of pressure’s hindrance.

While Karius’ basics abandoned him, Alisson focused on the much-practised mechanics of goalkeeping to deny Spurs a lifeline.

Faultless

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Faultless

Between them, Van Dijk and Alisson cost Liverpool £142million.

Pessimists will say the pair’s efforts in Madrid should be the minimum requirement for players of such value.

But Liverpool’s triumph is unquestionably a win for their scouts and board as much as the players and Jurgen Klopp.

The club’s net spend under Klopp remains under £100million, a total dwarfed by those of both Manchester clubs.

Van Dijk and Alisson were purchased for roughly the same amount Liverpool received from Barcelona for Philippe Coutinho.

On the wrong side of history

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On the wrong side of history

Van Dijk impressed with Southampton but few would have predicted he would develop into the world’s best centre-back within a year of switching to Anfield.

Both refused to be overawed or exhausted in an admittedly lacklustre final.

It may have been an off-night for Liverpool’s usually rampant attacking troops, but victory was ultimately deserved as, alongside Man City, they have obviously been Europe’s best side for quite a while.

With a sixth European Cup in the cabinet, nobody associated with Liverpool would say the £142million is anything other than money well spent.


NEXT: Spurs shirts, overnight trains and under-priced beer — a first-hand account of the weirdest European final ever

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