Belfast Telegraph

Devastated Liverpool will use Champions League heartache to come back even stronger, vows Lovren

 

By Adrian Rutherford

Dejan Lovren has vowed that Liverpool will come back even stronger from their Champions League heartbreak.

A 3-1 defeat against a Gareth-Bale inspired Real Madrid destroyed their dreams of a sixth European crown.

Afterwards, an emotional Lovren spoke of his devastation - but believes they can go again next season.

"I feel this team is growing every day and we will do it," the defender said. "We need to find the positives.

"The manager is always positive and at the end we will go again and I believe that this team can do it again next year."

After a goalless first half at Kiev's Olympic Stadium, Liverpool fell behind in farcical circumstances early in the second half.

Goalkeeper Loris Karius threw the ball against Karim Benzema, and could only watch as it rolled behind him into the net.

Sadio Mane briefly gave the Reds hope, but Bale's introduction took Madrid to a new level.

Barely two minutes after coming on he had put them back in front with a magnificent overhead kick.

Bale then sealed Real's 13th European triumph when his shot from distance spilled through Karius' hands late on.

Lovren said: "We are devastated. It is heartbreaking. After such a long road - when we managed to beat the best teams in Europe - it is so hard.

"The first goal was a big surprise for us. Nobody expected it.

"We tried to come back and we did it, but then they scored one of the best goals I've ever seen.

"But I'm proud of the team - I'm proud of every one of the players, they gave everything.

"I'm proud of the fans who travelled to support us, and I promise we will come back next year even stronger."

Lovren said the loss of talisman Mohamed Salah, who departed with a shoulder injury in the first half, was a huge setback.

"A big point was when Mo was injured - it was also a big changer for us," he admitted. "Mo is one of the most important players for us and it's not the same when you don't have him on the pitch.

"The mindset is totally different when you have him on the pitch. It was difficult to accept such an unlucky moment."

Lovren also had words of support for Karius, who looked a broken man, apologising tearfully in front of Liverpool's fans at the final whistle.

"Everyone is together - we win and lose together, so don't blame him," he added. "It's easy to blame someone but everyone is on the same side and everyone gave him the best words we can. He will come back stronger."

So too Liverpool, Lovren insists, after the belief generated by their run to the final.

"We beat the best teams in Europe," he added. "We beat Man City. Real Madrid respected us in some moments, defending quite deep. We need to go again."

Meanwhile, Nabil Fekir insists a move to Liverpool is "not close" as speculation mounts over the Lyon playmaker's future.

Jurgen Klopp's side have been persistently linked with a move of around £60m for the 24-year-old France international, who captained the Ligue 1 side.

But Fekir said yesterday morning: "I'm not close to the Reds. There are talks with clubs. I will take time to reflect on things."

Fekir's comments follow those of Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas last week which suggested the player could stay with the club despite appearing to bid farewell to their fans following the final game of the season.

Belfast Telegraph

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