Injured Salah targets World Cup after Real sweep aside Liverpool
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.
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.