Defeated, Liverpool does not have the luxury, like Real Madrid, of picking and choosing its memories. Three will stay with the team, the fans and the club for some time; two will haunt Karius for longer still.
Both led to Real Madrid goals: After rolling the ball onto Karim Benzema’s foot and then watching, horror-struck, as it trickled over the line, he might have thought he had escaped that first one, once Sadio Mané equalized a few minutes later. There would be no reprieve from the second, though, with Karius wafting a rather hopeful long-range shot from Bale through, giving Real Madrid a 3-1 lead, draining what hope Liverpool had of an unlikely revival.
Karius looked stricken as the game ticked through its final minutes, as Cristiano Ronaldo hared around, desperately searching for the goal that would allow him his moment in the spotlight. At the end, Karius sank to the floor, face down, and stayed there for what seemed like an age, barely moving, unable even to lift his head.
His Liverpool teammates, immersed in their own agony, did not seek him out immediately to offer solace; the first players to him, admirably, were Nacho Fernández and Marco Asensio, two Real Madrid substitutes. Only when Karius was on his feet again did the familiar arms embrace him, did the voices of his friends offer forlorn words of reassurance in his ear.
It was too soon for them to have any impact. Karius was in tears, his face puffy, his eyes red. He approached the Liverpool fans, a mass of red at the other end of the stadium from where his ignominy had descended, gingerly, nervously, palms outstretched, pleading for forgiveness.
That is what Liverpool will remember from this final: tears. Not those shed because of the defeat — Jürgen Klopp and his players should be able, in time, to appreciate the scale of their achievement in gracing this stage, to understand that it can be a staging post on a journey, not the end of a road — but those of Karius, in shame and sorrow, and those of Mohamed Salah, too, the player who illuminated the season, and then saw it end in darkness.
For the first half-hour, Liverpool had belied its status as underdog and swarmed over the illustrious, imperious Real Madrid. Toni Kroos, Real Madrid’s midfielder, had warned that Klopp’s team would be “animals,” and he was right: They chased and pressed and tore forward. Even Real Madrid, a team laced with poise, seemed shaken.