Salah injury marked beginning of the end for Liverpool

You could hear the confidence shift.

As Mohamed Salah lay tearful on the turf, the raucous red noise that had been present in Kiev all day waned somewhat, while the volume levels grew at the other end of the ground - a previously quiet Madrid contingent suddenly feeling confident.

The defending champions had been put under intense pressure by this final's underdogs early on, with Liverpool threatening to make the kind of flying start that had served them well on their way to the decider.

Liverpool's customary high-pressing game impressed but did not yield the goal it probably deserved before Salah hit the deck and left everyone backing the Premier League side in an anxious state.

Supporters initially chanted Salah's name in the desperate hope that their outpouring of goodwill might, just might, have some healing effect on their hero, or at least convince him that he was okay to carry on.

But he wasn't. Salah had hurt his shoulder in a collision with Sergio Ramos and tried to play on before despondently walking from the field two minutes later, sobbing as he went.

The tears may well have been replicated in the Liverpool end - a group of fans almost in mourning for the loss of a man who has been a revelation on Merseyside since signing from Roma ahead of the 2017-18 season.

The suddenly subdued atmosphere - highlighted by the fact Madrid's supporters were increasingly vocal - lasted for much of the remainder of the first half.

Madrid lost Dani Carvajal to a hamstring injury soon after Salah had left the field, but his exit and the introduction of Nacho in his place only seemed to improve Zinedine Zidane's men, further compounding the psychological blow of losing Salah.

Worse was to come for Liverpool when - after Isco had hit the crossbar - Loris Karius threw the ball against the boot of Karim Benzema to concede Madrid's opener six minutes into the second half, but Sadio Mane's equaliser four minutes later hit the reset button on the Liverpool fans.

The noise was back. The belief was back. But not for long.

Despite re-energising their supporters, Liverpool's leveller did not return them to the level of performance that had seen them shine early on.

Gareth Bale, fresh off the bench, then produced a moment of sheer brilliance to restore the Madrid advantage with a stunning overhead kick, before Karius made his second horrifying mistake of the match as he misjudged a long-range effort from Wales international to concede a third.

And though Karius will take his fair share of criticism for his failings between the posts at the NSC Olimpiyskiy, Liverpool's loss of momentum and control in this fixture can be traced back to one moment: the moment Salah left the field.

Like it or not, and for all of the talk from some that there is more to Liverpool than Salah, the club's 'Egyptian King' has taken on a kind of divine status after an all-conquering first season on Merseyside.

And the loss of a player of such importance, in a match of such importance, was an inescapable mental setback that had an undeniable negative impact - alongside Karius' calamities - on Liverpool's failed quest for a sixth European title.

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Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 General view of the trophy inside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Liverpool fans in Kiev before the match REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Real Madrid fans gather in Kiev before the match REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Liverpool shirts hang in the dressing room prior to the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Lukas Schulze - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool arrives at the stadium prior to the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
Liverpool fans arrive to watch the UEFA Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid on a big screen at Anfield, Liverpool. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)
Liverpool fans gather in Maidan Square, Kiev, Ukraine, prior to the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Real Madrid fans enjoy the pre match atmosphere prior to the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Liverpool fans in the stands show their support prior to the UEFA Champions League Final at the NSK Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 26, 2018. See PA story SOCCER Champions League. Photo credit should read: Mike Egerton/PA Wire (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid arrives for the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Lukas Schulze - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
Liverpool supporters cheer their team before the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26, 2018. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP) (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Pilar Rubio, wife of Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid is seen in the stands during the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Real Madrid's supporters cheer their team before the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26, 2018. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP) (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
The wife of Zinedine Zidane Veronique Zidane is seen ahead of the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26, 2018. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Liverpool fans in the stands show their support prior to the UEFA Champions League Final at the NSK Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool looks on as his team warm up prior to the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Liverpool's James Milner (front left) and Liverpool's Jordan Henderson (front right) warm up with team mates ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final at the NSK Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev. (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Dua Lipa looks on as she prepares to sing prior to the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Liverpool players during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Liverpool fans before the match REUTERS/Phil Noble
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Liverpool fans before the match REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
A Real Madrid's fan poses with flag of his team at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium before watching on giant screens the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at Kiev's Olympic Stadium, in Madrid on May 26, 2018. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP) (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Liverpool's Jordan Henderson shakes hands with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo before the match REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Singer Dua Lipa performs before the match REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 General view outside the stadium before the match REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Liverpool team group before the match REUTERS/Andrew Boyers
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Liverpool's James Milner kicks off the match REUTERS/Phil Noble
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane in action with Liverpool's Sadio Mane REUTERS/Phil Noble
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (right) and Real Madrid's Junior Marcelo battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League Final at the NSK Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)
Liverpool fans watch a large screen in Anfield stadium in Liverpool, northern England on May 26, 2018 showing the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid in Kiev. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool goes down during the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Liverpool's Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah (C) receives medical attention during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 26, 2018. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Liverpool fans in The Kop watch the UEFA Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid on a big screen at Anfield, Liverpool. (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Mohamed Salah of Liverpool reacts whilst leaving the pitch during the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool greets Mohamed Salah of Liverpool as he leaves the pitch injured during the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Real Madrid's Dani Carvajal looks dejected as he leaves the pitch with medical staff after sustaining an injury REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Liverpool's Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah (C) is comforted by team members as he leaves the pitch after injury during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26, 2018. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Karim Benzema of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Liverpool's Sadio Mane scores their first goal REUTERS/Phil Noble
Liverpool's Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mane (L) celebrates with his teammate Liverpool's Dutch defender Virgil Van Dijk after scoring the 1-1 during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26, 2018. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Real Madrid's Gareth Bale scores their second goal REUTERS/Phil Noble
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Real Madrid's Gareth Bale scores their second goal with a overhead kick REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Real Madrid's Gareth Bale celebrates scoring their second goal as Liverpool players look dejected REUTERS/Phil Noble
(L-R) Gareth Bale of Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool on May 26, 2018 at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kyiv, Ukraine(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid celebrates scoring his side's second goal with team mate Cristiano Ronaldo during the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Christopher Lee - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
Liverpool's German goalkeeper Loris Karius fails to save the 3-1 shot by Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale (not in picture) during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26, 2018. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Liverpool's German goalkeeper Loris Karius fails to save the 3-1 shot by Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale (not in picture) during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26, 2018. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Liverpool's German goalkeeper Loris Karius fails to save the 3-1 shot by Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale (not in picture) during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26, 2018. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp shows his dejection during the UEFA Champions League Final at the NSK Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev. (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
Soccer Football - Liverpool fans watch the Champions League Final - Liverpool, Britain - May 26, 2018 Liverpool fans react inside Anfield during the match REUTERS/Andrew Yates
Real Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale celebrates after scoring the the 3-1 during the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26, 2018. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren, Simon Mignolet and Jordan Henderson react after the match REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren and team mates collect their medals as they react after the match REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp is dejected as he walks past the trophy after losing the Champions League final REUTERS/Phil Noble
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Real Madrid celebrate winning the Champions League with the trophy REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Liverpool fans look dejected after watching the match on a television screen outside the stadium REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Real Madrid?s Sergio Ramos lifts the trophy as they celebrate after winning the Champions League REUTERS/Phil Noble
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Real Madrid's Gareth Bale celebrates winning the Champions League by kissing the trophy REUTERS/Hannah McKay
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUDNAY OUT) a dejected Loris Karius of Liverpool shows his appreciation to the fans at the end of the UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Real Madrid's French coach Zinedine Zidane holds the trophy as he celebrates winning the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 26, 2018. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Marcelo of Real Madrid poses with The UEFA Champions League trophy following his side's victory in the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on May 26, 2018 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Lukas Schulze - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
Real Madrid's Spanish defender Sergio Ramos plays with his son on the pitch as Real Madrid players celebrate winning the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26, 2018. - Real Madrid defeated Liverpool 3-1. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - NSC Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures as he celebrates winning the Champions League with the trophy REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Soccer Football - Champions League Final - Real Madrid v Liverpool - Kiev, Ukraine - May 26, 2018 Liverpool fan looks dejected after watching the match on a television screen outside the stadium REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Fans of Liverpool FC singing during the UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool on May 26, 2018 at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kyiv, Ukraine(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid with UEFA Champions League trophy, Coupe des clubs Champions Europeens during the UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool on May 26, 2018 at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kyiv, Ukraine(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
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