Thibaut Courtois earned himself the man of the match trophy as well as the one with the big ears, and he started his bid for glory early.
Sadio Mane, with typical non-stop energy and guile, twisted and turned in the area before striking a right-footed shot that was heading into the corner of the net after 21 minutes until Courtois, at full stretch, somehow pushed it onto his right-hand post. The effort came at a time when Liverpool were in total control in Paris – and a goal at that stage would have been hugely important in the story of the match. It wasn’t Courtois’ only save of the night, far from it, but it was vital for how the game turned out.
You may have thought that if the ball comes off a defender last, then a striker cannot be offside. But thankfully for Liverpool it took a Champions League Final to prove that isn’t true. When Benzema scored from close range after the ball came off Fabinho’s knee as he lay on the floor, there followed an agonisingly long VAR check-in which we learned that if the ball is deflected, not played, by a defender then it doesn’t count. Who’d have thought? Crazy. But Liverpool won’t complain.
Trent Alexander-Arnold still divides opinion despite his obvious genius. After all, he's not even England's first-choice right-back these days. So there was pressure on him in this final to show he can defend as well as attack.
It looked to be going to play early on. He had been doing a pretty decent job on Vinicius Junior, who had barely had a touch, but it took only one momentary lapse for the Real winger to show his class. It was a superb cross from Valverde which set the winger up to score comfortably, but it was Alexander-Arnold who played him onside and who didn’t get near enough to his man.
None of that would have mattered if Trent had produced the magic he has produced in almost every other match this season, but sadly for him it just wouldn't happen. He's still world-class, but this wasn't his day.
We’ve seen Liverpool come back from the dead so many times over the years, not least in Champions League finals. But when they came on strong this time they found man of the match Courtois in the way.
Perhaps the most crucial was when Salah tricked his way through the Real defence, bringing back memories of his Premier League goal of the season against Manchester City, and shot right-footed towards the corner of the net. It looked certain to nestle in the net, but Courtois, flying to his right, once again came to the rescue.