Overshadowed by two mortifying howlers from goalkeeper Loris Karius, what Liverpool actually got right during Saturday’s Champions League final with Real Madrid has been forgotten already. In truth, there wasn’t a great deal – Liverpool just weren’t at their rampant best, especially after Mohamed Salah’s injury – but they did match Europe’s reigning champions for most of the first hour, until Gareth Bale’s stunning bicycle kick.
And in direct contrast to Karius, who inevitably enters a world of relentless social media abuse and online rants, there was at least one player who impressed Liverpool fans in Kiev – left-back Andrew Robertson. It’s been a fantastic debut season for the Scotland international at Anfield and having shown steady growth throughout the campaign, it’s almost consequential that one of his best performances so far came in the last game of 2017/18.
Defensive qualities have always been the biggest concern with Robertson, who showed glimpses of what he can do going forward in the Premier League during his time at Hull City, but that was the area where he stood out most at the weekend – the defining moment being an excellent last-ditch slide challenge on Cristiano Ronaldo that stopped Real Madrid from winning a second consecutive Champions League final by a 4-1 scoreline.
That was one of three tackles the 5 foot 10 full-back made against Los Blancos, alongside two interceptions, three clearances and two blocks, but the 24-year-old managed to provide his more customary offensive threat too, also completing one dribble and creating one chance.
In many ways, the fact Robertson and Karius enjoyed and endured respectively such contrasting fortunes in the season’s finale is incredibly poignant. Doubts lingered over both when they first arrived on Merseyside, but whereas one has embraced the pressure to improve himself and become a key part of this Liverpool team, the other has struggled to convince and now cost his team dearly on the biggest stage.
Perhaps the real positive for Liverpool fans though, is that this will be the club’s first summer transfer window for several years in which they won’t be urging their club to sign a new left-back.