Mohamed Salah’s misfortune represented a key moment in Saturday’s Champions League final, Georginio Wijnaldum feels.
Liverpool’s top scorer had to leave the pitch with 30 minutes gone at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium after falling awkwardly during a duel with Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.
There had been nothing to choose between the teams until that point, with the scoreline deadlocked at 0-0.
It remained goalless until half-time, but Real eventually ran out 3-1 winners thanks to Karim Benzema’s opener, which was quickly cancelled out by Sadio Mane, and a brace from Gareth Bale.
And, speaking post-match in Kiev, Wijnaldum explained that Salah’s enforced withdrawal both hindered the Reds and aided Real.
“With Mo Salah we are a better team,” the midfielder told Liverpoolfc.com.
“[He makes it] easier for the other players in midfield and up-front and also the defence, because defensively they have to think of him because he’s a really dangerous player.
“When he went out it was one problem less for them, so I think it helped them and it didn’t help us.
“We started well, the first 30-35 minutes I think we did a great job and stopped them from playing and everything. We created a few possibilities to score a goal, but I think after the injury of Mo it was really difficult for us.
“It was a big blow for the team, but we still managed to go to half-time at 0-0. Then in the second half, we were 1-0 behind. We came back really quick and then a wonderful goal from Bale, and then the third goal was really hard for us.”
Despite the overriding feeling of despair after falling at the last hurdle, Wijnaldum hopes Liverpool can kick on from their impressive Champions League campaign in 2018-19.
“Yes of course I’m proud of what we achieved, of how we came to the final, but if you come to the final you want to win it and the farther you come in the tournament the bigger the disappointment will be - especially in the final, if you lose it the disappointment is really big,” the Netherlands international said.
“I’m really devastated, but if you compare it to what we did this season, I think we can be proud that we came to the final and hopefully we learn off it and take it to next season.”