Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah inspired by pain of Kiev in 2018

Press Association Sport 15:37 02/06/2019
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Mohamed Salah

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah used a photograph of his tearful Champions League final of 12 months ago to inspire him to return and win the European Cup for the first time.

Salah’s evening in Kiev last year ended after half-an-hour when he sustained a shoulder injury in a clash with Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos.

It was a pivotal moment in the match and one the 26-year-old was keen to remind himself of for extra motivation when they came up against Tottenham in Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

“I looked at the picture from last year before the game,” said Salah, who scored the opening goal from the penalty spot in only the second minute.

“I was very disappointed that I got injured and went out after 30 minutes and we lost the game. It was something to motivate me to win.

“I didn’t look at the picture for a long time. You can feel what you can beat you so I just looked at it one time and said ‘OK, let’s go’.”

The Egyptian said he believed in fate and felt he would achieve something special this time around.

“Yeah, of course. Absolutely. Our job is more mental and you have to believe in yourself before the game,” he said.

“You could see the players; we were believing in ourselves in the game.

“I think everything happens for a reason and the reason for us to lose the final last season was to come back and win it again.

“It’s great. The final of the Champions League, take a penalty, show the courage and to win the trophy.

“We were a little bit disappointed after the final (last year) and now we are back and have won it again, the sixth time for Liverpool, it is something great.”

Since his stellar debut season for Liverpool Salah has been linked with a move to, mainly, Real Madrid and his first trophy for the club will no doubt spark another round of summer rumours.

However, he believes he can currently satisfy his ambition at Anfield and is already looking towards the next piece of silverware.

“Of course. We play every year with ambition,” he said.

“This year our target was the Champions League and the Premier League. We lost the Premier League by one point so that was also a big disappointment.

“You can’t finish your season with losing a game. We did everything to win the game and we deserved it.

“The first trophy and it’s the Champions League! It’s the start. It’s the first competition. We will go next season for the Premier League.

“This season was the first season we were really fighting for the Premier League, last season we were basically fighting for the Champions League. The year before the Europa League.

“The average age of (the squad) is 26 or 27 so we still have young players.

“It is good experience for us to win the trophy now and also last season we learned a lot.

“As you can see we were more calm, scored a second goal after 86 or 87 minutes and we were patient in the game.”

On the subject of being calm, Salah’s penalty was coolness personified as he drilled home with virtually his first touch.

It was only, however, the second most important spot-kick of his career.

He faced even more pressure in October 2017 when he carried the weight of a nation on his shoulders in a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Congo.

“I prepared myself before the game. I scored a penalty to send Egypt to the World Cup after 28 years in the last minute, so that (in the final) was easier,” he said.

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Mauricio Pochettino refuses to discuss his future as Tottenham manager

Press Association Sport 08:30 02/06/2019
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Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said it was too early to talk about whether he would be at the club next season after watching his side lose the Champions League final to Liverpool.

Pochettino had led Spurs to the biggest game in their history, but their lack of cutting edge killed them as they slipped to a 2-0 loss to Jurgen Klopp’s men, going down to Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi goals.

Over the course of the last few weeks, Pochettino himself has raised doubts about his future, suggesting he could leave if they won the Champions League while also refusing the dismiss speculation linking him to the Juventus job.

There is a sense that he has done that to gain leverage on chairman Daniel Levy in order to receive substantial backing in the transfer market.

Whatever the Argentinian’s intentions, he is planning on sitting down with Levy to discuss what the future holds.

“It’s too early to talk a lot now, so early,” Pochettino said.

“We need to assimilate that defeat.

“For sure we are going to have time to talk in the future. The future can be tomorrow, after tomorrow.

“It is not a moment to talk too much. You can interpret things in different ways.

“People want to compare me with different managers but they don’t know that we are in a different project in a different position and different place. But the people want to be more clever and they want to give an opinion without an argument.

“In five years at Tottenham, the project was so clear, our ambition was amazing, and the commitment from the players was amazing – the club played their first Champions League final.

“Now is the time to stay calm, change the mood, for sure we are going to have time to talk.”

Pochettino used the phrase “to build the next period in your life”, which could be taken as another hint about his position, but he also spoke about how Spurs’ run to the Champions League final could kickstart a successful period for the club.

“We need to be clever now,” he said.

“Always after a painful situation like today, it’s about building the success and to build the next period in your life.

“Of course it’s going to be tough, but in the same way now after a couple of hours, we need to change our mind and be positive.

“We’ve been playing against a team that three or four years ago was being designed to reach finals, not necessarily to win them, but to get to them.

“We are a team that has priorities that is shared with the stadium. We looked at the quality of our players in the final but it would have been incredible to win today and lift the trophy.

“It would have been something that would have surprised people because in the last five years Tottenham prioritised their stadium and spent zero on transfers.

“We’re not the smartest in the class but not the stupidest either. But it is incredible and this club deserves a lot of credit.

“Hopefully it will be the beginning of a very successful period for the club.”

If Spurs were at their sharpest in the attack, the outcome in Madrid might well have been different as after Salah’s early spot-kick, awarded after 22 seconds, they were the better team for most of the game.

They had chances to level at 1-1 but none of them fell to Harry Kane, who was picked to start despite not playing since early April.

It was a gamble that did not pay off for Pochettino, but he defended his decision.

“The problem is you create a history or a drama but it’s not about playing with Harry Kane or Lucas Moura,” he added.

“That is the thing that was important or not important.

“It’s a decision and, of course, for me, Harry Kane after one month and a half finished the game fresh.

“He didn’t score like other players. It’s not a point to talk too much. My decision, I promise, was about analytics and thinking with all the information. I don’t regret my decision.”

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Klopp motivated for more trophies after finally turning silver into gold

Press Association Sport 07:50 02/06/2019
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Liverpool‘s Champions League triumph left Jurgen Klopp ecstatic, emotional and hungry for more after finally getting his hands on silverware and then receiving a call from Premier League adversary Pep Guardiola.

Mohamed Salah’s spot-kick and more heroics from substitute Divock Origi saw the Reds crowned champions of Europe for the sixth time as they brought an outstanding season to a memorable conclusion.

The 2-0 win against Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham saw Klopp end his cup final hoodoo and finally lift a trophy as Liverpool manager – a victory all the sweeter after being pipped to the Premier League crown.

Manchester City won the title by a single point at the end of a gripping title race and their manager was one of the first on the phone after the match.

“A second ago I had Pep Guardiola on the phone,” Klopp said.

“Our head physio (Lee Nobes) worked for Man City at the beginning of the season, but he wanted to win the Champions… no, it’s a joke.

“And we promised each other already that we will kick (each other’s) butts next year again.

“We will go for everything and let’s see if we get something.”

Klopp was surprisingly calm in the post-match press conference given he had ended a run of six straight cup final defeats.

Perhaps it was because the Liverpool manager took most pleasure from the happiness it brought to those around him.

“I only want to enjoy that we won it,” he said.

“All the rest is not important.

“It’s for all the people around the world, in the stadium. They are with us and they are now celebrating like crazy and we will have this tomorrow in Liverpool and we will celebrate together (at the parade).

“We will have a sensational night. I feel mostly relieved, to be honest.

“Relieved for my family because they are pretty close to me, as you can imagine.

“Six times we always flew on holiday with a silver medal. That doesn’t feel too cool.

“And this is completely different, so this is for them as well.

“It’s for our supporters, of course, but also our owners as well because they never put real pressure on us.

“They appreciate the development; they see the steps we make. It’s for them as well. It’s great.

“For the players, we were all pretty much crying on the pitch because it was so emotional, it was so big.

“It meant so much to us but I should have probably said, first of all, I know how Tottenham feels better than anybody else in the world.

“They played a sensational season as well and they would have deserved it as well.

“But tonight we scored goals in the right moment, but I told Poch directly after the game that he should be really proud of what they did this year as well.”

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