Liverpool's Dominic Solanke - from schoolboy to potential Champions League match-winner

Sport360 staff 01:09 24/05/2018
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Dominic Solanke scored his first goal for Liverpool against Brighton

Dominic Solanke watched the Champions League final from home the last time his club qualified but this time around he will have a front-row seat in Kiev.

Solanke was a 14-year-old in the youth ranks at Chelsea when Roberto di Matteo’s side beat Bayern Munich on penalties in 2012.

A move to Anfield last summer has brought the first-team exposure he did not get at Stamford Bridge and while he will be on the bench for the clash against Real Madrid in the Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex it represents a considerable step forward.

“I was in the youth team, didn’t go to Munich, but watched it at home,” said the 20-year-old.

“The Champions League is one of the biggest competitions in the world and to win it is amazing.

“Back then I saw how much it meant to everyone so hopefully we can get it here too.

“I felt part of it at Chelsea. So much emotion when you win a cup like that so the year after, everyone was still buzzing so I’m looking forward to feeling that here.

“I want a taste of that again definitely.

“It’s one game so anything can happen in a game of football, You have to go there knowing it’s a tough game, but we have to be confident.”

Solanke’s own confidence has been boosted by scoring his first senior goal in the victory over Brighton on the final day of the Premier League.

It has even allowed him to dream about netting the winner in Ukraine.

“It’s always nice to get your first goal. I had to wait a bit longer than I wanted, but I was delighted after that,” he added.

“It’s always difficult as a striker when you haven’t scored for a while and frustrating, but you just have to keep going, stay confident and when the goal comes, to maintain it.

“Of course I’ve been thinking about getting the winning goal in Kiev, that’s the dream.”

Solanke has been watching Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane at close-quarters this season but also picked up some tips for some of the greats at his former club.

“When I was at Chelsea, Drogba was one of my favourites, (Fernando) Torres as well,” he said.

“They were amazing especially in their prime. I trained with Drogba quite a lot and he helped me, he’s a good guy and gave me advice.

“When he saw me on the pitch doing something and I could do it better, he would tell me.”

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Manchester United fan Rory McIlroy backs bitter rivals Liverpool in Kyiv final

Sport360 staff 19:28 23/05/2018
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Rory McIlroy is backing the Reds

Irish golf star and Manchester United fan Rory McIlroy is hoping Liverpool are crowned European champions for the sixth time on Saturday.

The 29-year-old conceded that as a United supporter he should hate Jurgen Klopp‘s side but he was prepared to go against type for the clash in Kyiv with holders Real Madrid.

“As much as I’m a United fan, and United fans are supposed to hate Liverpool, I think it would be great to see a British team win, hopefully.”

“I think it’s great that a British team’s in the final, and look, if Liverpool can start off the match like they did against Roma that first leg, they have got a good chance.”

McIlroy is bidding to get his season back on track at the PGA Championship at Wentworth which gets underway on Thursday.

The PGA title winner in 2014 had not gone completely off message talking football as he had played in the Pro-Am tournament with three former United greats Teddy Sheringham, Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick.

However, in what he hopes is not repeated when he addresses the golf ball his attempted chip onto the green from around 80 yards with a football came up short – as did Sheringham’s and Scholes’s.

“Unfortunately mine didn’t make it to the green,” said McIlroy.

“I think that was the first football I kicked since 2015.

“Yeah, not great. Not that that’s an excuse.”

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp highlights Marcelo as Real Madrid's weak link in defence

David Cooper - Writer 19:16 23/05/2018
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Liverpool will certainly pose a threat to Champions League specialists Real Madrid when the two sides meet in the final on Saturday.

Los Blancos are looking to secure their third triumph in the competition on the bounce but have shown that they are vulnerable at the back and Jurgen Klopp knows it.

The Reds boss has specifically picked out left-back Marcelo as a potential weak link with the sensational Mohamed Salah attacking down his flank in Kiev.

“Everyone has seen it and it seems obvious. Marcelo is a great attacking player…but he doesn’t defend,” Klopp said in an interview with The Mirror.

The German also spoke on Madrid’s winning mentality in the tournament.

“They won the Champions League twice and here they are again in the final. Bayern Munich thought they were better over the two games but, who was better in the end?

“Real Madrid needed four chances to score twice. Bayern, eight to score one. They have more experience in their heads and at their feet.”

Klopp however admits that it won’t be as simple as just getting Salah to attack down the right when Marcelo goes forward.

“Football is not as simple as to say that Marcelo goes up the wing and leaves space for Mo Salah because he will be met with Sergio Ramos.”

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