Writing this in Madrid airport just a few hours after the game, the predominant emotion is of course disappointment. At losing, at the performance of some of our side, at the referee, at Liverpool’s decision not to recall Karius for this game.
In summary… the Slovenian referee’s decisiveness in awarding a penalty against Sissoko in the first minute brought immediate howls of shock and anger from the Spurs end who could see quite clearly that any ball on arm contact was accidental. It was important that we kept it tight for as long as possible from the off…oh well. Hugo was very close to saving Salah’s penalty – why did he run to us to celebrate? Idiot.
There then followed a poor quality first half during which Jose Mourinho’s Liverpool side sat back intent on protecting their advantage rather than increasing it. Having said that, the scousers tactic of relying on hoofs over the top to Mané was more dangerous than anything we cobbled together.
Half time came and went and as is traditional these days our players took it in turn to suffer knocks, stretches and pulls that threatened to take them out of the game. Vertonghen, Trippier, Rose and Sissoko all suffered, it was the latter who eventually succumbed.
After well over an hour of doing sweet FA in and around Allison’s penalty area we suddenly started to look like we might get back in it as Eriksen, Dele, Son and Lucas all threatened and forced top quality saves from the keeper, but it was all to no avail and Origi took a snap chance well, after we failed to clear a set piece to settle the game.
Frustratingly, the game was punctuated by multiple instances of players of both sides passing or hoofing the ball in to touch, it wasn’t a pretty affair. The Liverpool players, especially Alexander-Arnold’s, impression from the start that taking a restart was really the last thing they wanted to do whilst participating in the showpiece of European club football was equally depressing.
The atmosphere created at our end was something we should be proud of. The ubiquitous flags were there of course, the sea of blue and white against the red furniture of an otherwise fine stadium and the songs, including some deafening renditions of Oh When The Spurs. The players can’t complain about a lack of encouragement.
The weird distribution of tickets by UEFA meant that there were red shirts above and very close to our end. There was free access at the rear of the seats meaning that I witnessed several angry incidents when Liverpool fans tried to get to the food and drink concessions. There were also locals who’d got tickets, lads trying to impress their flimsily dressed girlfriends by taking them to this glamorous event were numerous, quite what the senoritas made of this dullness, in a stadium in the semi-desert played at gas mark 5 temperatures I’m not sure.
The airport floor is littered with bodies, both red and white shirted, trying to sleep. Others are listening to the Joshua fight. There have been 50 yard queues at Burger King and Starbucks. Surprisingly David Howells, Cliff Jones, Clive and Paul Allen, Paul Miller, Pat Jennings, Justin Edinburgh (COYOs) and Graham Roberts are also here, killing time whilst awaiting their flights home. (Jones looks remarkable considering his age).
It’s been a long day for most people, not helped by some chaotic management from the travel companies, the heavy handed police, the ‘helpful’ guidance from the Metro staff and the blistering heat. There were massive queues in the fan zone outside the game, all in the open of course. No toilets, of course. Water in the ground was five euros a bottle, profiteering by UEFA? Oh yes, you bet.
Chatting and listening to people, beneath the disappointment there is a huge sense of pride that we’ve come this far and that we put up a good fight against an undoubtedly better team who got the benefit of an early break. Who knows what the next few month’s will bring. Fittingly, it’ll be departures and arrivals, but of whom is anyone’s guess.
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