Liverpool fans revel in victory back in club's home city

June 02, 2019

LIVERPOOL, England — Ecstatic Liverpool fans who watched Saturday's Champions League final on a big screen on the city's waterfront erupted with euphoria as their team won Europe's top football competition — for the sixth time.

"I've never felt like this about football — I'm absolutely speechless," said an overwhelmed Colin Senior, 59, moments after seeing captain Jordan Henderson hoist the famous trophy aloft to an emphatic roar from his home city.

"I absolutely adore Liverpool!" he added in the afterglow of the club's 2-0 victory over English rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Moments earlier, thousands of boisterous, flag-draped fans packed inside Liverpool Exhibition Centre by the River Mersey gave a rousing rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone", the club's legendary anthem.

"We're dead proud of them," said Karen Clay, 56, a lifelong fan.

"The manager (Jurgen Klopp) is amazing. This is 100 percent better than last year," she added, in a nod to last season's disappointment when Liverpool lost to Real Madrid in the final.

The raucous crowd had created a cacophony of noise — and sent beer and smoke from red flares sailing through the air — as the final whistle sounded in Spain, where this year's showpiece was played.

"It's unbelievable!" said Darryl East, 38, a lifelong Liverpool supporter wearing a replica shirt with the name of the game's first goalscorer Mo Salah on the back, his voice hoarse after 90 minutes of manically chanting and cheering the team on.

"It means absolutely everything."

Fans from far and wide had swamped the northwestern English city throughout the day, packing its pubs and bars.

While thousands of die-hard Reds were 1,400 km (900 miles) away reveling in the atmosphere in host city Madrid, supporters on Merseyside made the best of not being there.

"I couldn't afford to get to Madrid, but this is the second best place on Earth to be," said Paul Shingler, 52.

A Liverpool supporter old enough to remember their 1981 European Cup triumph in Paris over Real Madrid, he had brought along his 21-year-old son with him from their home in Yorkshire, northern England.

"It's like nothing you've seen before — it's a sea of red," the proud dad said as he surveyed the fan-filled city center mid-afternoon.

As kick-off approached, this football-obsessed city resembled a carnival site, with jubilant supporters — many already intoxicated — climbing street lights and scaffolding to celebrate.

The team, which last won the trophy in 2005, will return home promptly for a parade through the city center scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

For Sean Allsop, a 25-year-old fan, the club's sixth European Cup title is made sweeter by narrowly missing out on this season's English Premier League crown.

"This was the No. 1 consolation prize," he said. "If we had come away from this season with nothing, it would be hard to pick yourself up."

Meanwhile the mood among Tottenham fans watching the game at London's Flat Iron Square went flat very quickly when Liverpool scored from a contentious penalty awarded after just 30 seconds.

"We didn't go wrong," insisted Spurs supporter Lisa Garwood, 51.

"The penalty, here (pointing to her shoulder), was not a handball because that was the first point of contact so that was rubbish. Then it was 1-0, but Tottenham played out of their skins."

There was an even bigger sense of anti-climax at Tottenham's recently opened new stadium in where a near full-house of 60,000 had gathered to watch the match on 10 giant screens in the hope of seeing the North London club crowned champions of Europe for the first time.

After Spurs fell behind, surges of excitement built in the second half as their side threatened an equalizer before many fans streamed out following Liverpool's second goal three minutes from time, unconvinced their team could stage one last miraculous recovery.

But there was defiance among those heading away, with the somewhat tongue-in-cheek chant of "We're gonna win it next year!" ringing out into the night. — AFP

June 02, 2019
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