Liverpool’s Karius earns unwelcome spot in soccer infamy
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — On Liverpool’s night of tears in the Champions League final, goalkeeper Loris Karius cried long and hard.
True, the decisive goal in Real Madrid’s 3-1 win on Saturday was a sublime scissor-kick by substitute Gareth Bale that the 24-year-old German was helpless to stop.
But Madrid’s other two goals came from major errors by Karius that verged on the ridiculous.
Gifting Karim Benzema an opening goal in the 51st minute let Madrid take control after Liverpool were better for much of the first half.
Spilling Bale’s long-range shot into the net in the 83rd meant there was no way back for Liverpool at 3-1 down to the two-time defending champion.
Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp described the goals as “quite strange.”
“The mistakes were obvious, we don’t have to talk about it,” said Klopp, who signed Karius from Mainz, the German club he once managed. “I really feel for him. No one wants that.”
At the final whistle, Karius put his hands to his head and slumped to his knees in his goalmouth.
No teammate came to console him and he then lay flat out, face to the turf hiding his tears. Madrid players were the first to approach their distraught opponent.
“It’s not about him and the mistakes he might have made, it’s about the team. We weren’t good enough on the night,” Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson told British broadcaster BT Sport.
Karius had little to do early in the game as Liverpool threatened to sweep Madrid aside in an impressive first 25 minutes.
Then star forward Mohamed Salah’s left shoulder appeared injured when he was dragged to the ground in a tangling fall with wily Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.
Within four minutes, Salah gave into obvious searing pain and left the field in tears. The final game of his glorious Liverpool season was over.
Liverpool lost momentum and relied on an excellent Karius save, pushing away Cristiano Ronaldo’s header, just to get to halftime on level terms.
In a first reckless act by Karius, he gathered an aimless Madrid throughball at the edge of his penalty area, then tried to roll the ball underarm to a defender. Benzema stuck out a right foot, connected and the ball rolled slowly into an unguarded net, leaving Karius to appeal haplessly to the referee for a non-existent foul.
Later, television replays showed that Karius sustained a heavy challenge away from the ball by Ramos, two minutes before the game-changing mistake.
Karius was redeemed by Sadio Mane’s equalizer within four minutes, before Bale scored a goal worthy of winning a Champions League final and a place in the competition’s storied history.
But Karius letting Bale’s swerving shot squirm through his hands at chest height gave the former Manchester City trainee his place in European soccer infamy.