Andy Robertson has admitted that the loss of Mohamed Salah to a shoulder injury disrupted Liverpool’s rhythm and may have been the turning point in their dispiriting Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.
Salah, who ends his debut season at Liverpool with 44 goals in 52 appearances, was forced off the pitch shortly before the half-hour mark with the score at 0-0 after tangling with Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.
Having edged a close contest and clocked up nine shots on Madrid’s goal before losing Salah, Liverpool faltered without the Egyptian and never regained their momentum, eventually losing 3-1.
Asked whether he thought Salah’s withdrawal was the game’s turning point, Robertson said: “I think it could have been Mo, it could have been any of us. It just disrupted our rhythm a wee bit. Everyone looks because it is Mo Salah. He has done unbelievable this season and for it to end that way for him was devastating.”
Salah left Kiev’s NSC Olimpiyskiy in a shoulder brace and is now a doubt for his national side’s opening World Cup game against Uruguay on 15 June. The Egyptian Football Association tweeted on Saturday night that it was “optimistic” Salah would play in Russia.
Robertson was one of the players closest to the incident between Ramos and Salah but when asked whether he believed there was any malice in the Spaniard’s challenge, the Scot was unsure.
“I don’t know. I was trying to get the ball off Mo,” he said. “I think it is just how he has landed but Ramos is quite clever, isn’t he? We are clutching at straws if we are saying that. It is just the way he has landed on it. It’s unfortunate. Hopefully he’ll come back bigger and stronger.”
Two poor goalkeeping errors by Loris Karius ultimately cost Liverpool. The German first allowed Karim Benzema to intercept a routine throw, with the ball deflecting towards goal and trickling over the line.
Sadio Mané equalised soon after from a corner but a brace by substitute Gareth Bale – the first a stunning overhead kick, the second a speculative long-range effort that Karius fumbled – won Madrid their 13th European Cup.
“The last 10 minutes of the first half, we sat back and they created a couple of chances,” Robertson said. “We got into half-time, 0-0 and that was fine. I thought we started well in the second half but then the mistake happened.
“We bounced back so quickly, which was credit for all the lads. Then the second goal? What can you say about that? Nobody is stopping that. Fair play to him. We have just fallen short.”
Robertson was one of Liverpool’s more impressive players on the night, the highlight of his display being an expertly-timed last-ditch tackle to prevent Cristiano Ronaldo from scoring.
Even so, the Scot took no great pride in his performance and would have traded it for the trophy.
Read more coverage on the Champions League final:
- Miguel Delaney: The definitive read from an enthralling night
- Jonathan Liew: The emptiness of the biggest stage
- Ed Malyon: Why relentless Real make their own luck
- Mark Critchley: Salah’s early exit cripples Liverpool
- Explained: Salah’s injury and his chances of playing in Russia
- Man marking: We run the rule over both teams in Kiev
- Transfer talk #1: Ronaldo opens the door to shock exit
- Transfer talk #2: Bale issues come and get me plea
“I’d rather have had a stinker and we won. I’d rather 10 players turned up and I didn’t but we went home with the trophy. That’s just the type of person that I am,” he said.
“Hopefully we will have more nights like this. People say that you might not get to another one but we will try. We know it is the biggest tournament in Europe and it is so hard to get here. We can vouch for that. We will try our best. We will try to win trophies for the club and bring it success.”
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