In­jured Salah tar­gets World Cup af­ter Real sweep aside Liverpool

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FOOTBALL - CARL MARKHAM IN KIEV ■ Email: yp.sport@ypn.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @YPS­port

LIVERPOOL for­ward Mo­hamed Salah is “con­fi­dent” he will be avail­able for this summer’s World Cup with Egypt af­ter suf­fer­ing a shoul­der in­jury in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal.

The Reds’ 44-goal top scorer was forced off mid­way through the first half of Satur­day’s 3-1 de­feat against Real Madrid due to the problem sus­tained in a tan­gle with Ser­gio Ramos.

Liverpool man­ager Jur­gen Klopp feared the is­sue could rule Salah out of the World Cup, which starts in just un­der three weeks, but the player has posted a pos­i­tive mes­sage on Twit­ter.

“It was a very tough night, but I’m a fighter. De­spite the odds, I’m con­fi­dent that I’ll be in Rus­sia to make you all proud,” the 25-year-old posted.

“Your love and sup­port will give me the strength I need.”

The match was goal­less at that stage, al­though Klopp’s side were in the as­cen­dancy.

Liverpool’s play­ers strug­gled to ad­just and Real took ad­van­tage, even­tu­ally run­ning out win­ners partly thanks to two er­rors by goal­keeper Loris Kar­ius and a stun­ning over­head kick by Gareth Bale.

Reds mid­fielder Ge­orginio Wi­j­nal­dum ad­mit­ted the in­jury to Salah so early in the con­test af­fected their performance.

“I think it was a big blow for us, it seemed like a big blow for us the way the way we re­acted af­ter his in­jury,” said Wij­nal­dum.

“I think when he was on the pitch we did it well for 25 min­utes but (af­ter the in­jury) there was less than be­fore.

“Those things hap­pen and we had to deal with it but it was dif­fi­cult.”

Asked what Klopp said at half­time, the Hol­land in­ter­na­tional added: “He said that it looked like we were dev­as­tated about Mo but we had to let it go and change be­cause it could not change.

“Some­times those things hap­pen in foot­ball. It is hugely frus­trat­ing but we can’t change it.”

Egypt’s team doc­tor Mo­hamed Abou El-Ela said in a state­ment that, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from Liverpool’s med­i­cal staff, Salah has sus­tained only lig­a­ment dam­age and he re­mained op­ti­mistic he would still fea­ture in the World Cup.

Karim Ben­zema was gifted an early sec­ond-half goal, block­ing Kar­ius’s throw into the net, and al­though Sa­dio Mane quickly equalised, Bale struck twice.

The Wales in­ter­na­tional’s briliant over­head kick was in many ways rem­i­nis­cent of his man­ager Zine­dine Zi­dane’s goal which won the 2002 fi­nal, but his sec­ond was pure com­edy as Kar­ius let a 30yard strike slip through his fin­gers in the 82nd minute and ef- fec­tively sealed a 13th Euro­pean ti­tle for the Span­ish side.

For Klopp, it was a sixth suc­ces­sive cup fi­nal de­feat and his sec­ond in the Cham­pi­ons League, hav­ing guided Borus­sia Dort­mund there in 2013.

Once again the German was faced with hav­ing to lift his side again hav­ing suf­fered de­feat in the Europa League fi­nal with them two years ago.

“I’m not fine, I’m the op­po­site of fine, but I try to be pro­fes­sional,” he said.

“I lost games in my life be­fore, I won games in my life be­fore – I know how to deal with that. What you can­not avoid is the feel­ing you have af­ter the game.

“We all feel re­ally, re­ally bad. We wanted ev­ery­thing and got noth­ing, or mi­nus some­thing with the in­jury of Mo.

“At the end, it’s a foot­ball game, we tried ev­ery­thing to win it, that’s why I wouldn’t change any­thing in my prepa­ra­tions.

“I did the best I could and it was not good enough and I have to ac­cept that, that’s it.

“You need a lit­tle bit of luck in a foot­ball game, es­pe­cially a fi­nal, and we not only had no luck – we had none plus bad luck.”

Liverpool cap­tain Jor­dan Henderson hopes a World Cup cam­paign with Eng­land will help him over­come his dev­as­ta­tion.

A clearly emo­tional Henderson was close to tears as he spoke in the bow­els of the NSC Oliympiysky Sta­dium fol­low­ing de­feat.

Hav­ing been forced to watch the Europa League fi­nal de­feat to Sevilla two years ago from the bench as he was not fully fit, this one was even more dif­fi­cult to take. But the 27-year-old hopes a suc­cess­ful run in Rus­sia this summer will ease the pain.

“Ob­vi­ously (I’m) dev­as­tated. It is the worst feel­ing I have had in foot­ball,” he said.

“It will hurt for a while but you have to move on in foot­ball. The World Cup is com­ing up. Things move quickly. You have to focus on going for­ward.

“Some of us have time off to go and get away and take their minds off it, and oth­ers have got the World Cup. I want to get back to busi­ness as soon as pos­si­ble. We are dev­as­tated for the fans,” he added.

“Over­all we have to be proud of the achieve­ment get­ting here. We have done brilliantly.

“Only good teams get to the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal so we have to make sure this is not the last fi­nal, that we are in more fi­nals and win tro­phies.

MAIN PIC­TURE: MICHAEL REGAN/GETTY IMAGES

WON­DER STRIKE: Gareth Bale scores a spec­tac­u­lar sec­ond goal for Real Madrid in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Sta­dium. In­set, Cris­tiano Ron­aldo con­soles Liverpool’s Mo­hamed Salah as he leaves the pitch in­jured.

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