By Simon Evans
KIEV (Reuters) – Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius has received plenty of sympathy and support following his horrendous errors in his team’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid but his future as first choice at Anfield is surely now in doubt.
The 24-year-old German was a miserable sight at the end of the game when he collapsed to the ground and lay face down in the grass, motionless while Real celebrated their title.
Tears flowed down his face as, after receiving some consolation, he joined his team mates in front of the Liverpool supporters and held out his hands in apology.
Karius had gifted Real the lead in the 51st minute when he inexplicably threw the ball straight to Real forward Karim Benzema, who stretched out his leg and knocked it into the unguarded goal.
Then, with the score at 2-1 to Real, Karius let a long-range effort from substitute Gareth Bale through his hands as the Spanish side made sure of the win.
There was no debate over whether the keeper was to blame for those two goals but plenty of empathy for a young man whose worst moments came in his biggest game.
Former Everton and Wales international goalkeeper Neville Southall took to Twitter to express his support.
“Feel sorry for Karius but it’s how you bounce back I have been there it’s a dark place to be I hope he comes through it. Stay strong. Believe in yourself. Goalkeepers Union.”
There were also supportive words from former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who praised him for his gesture to the supporters but acknowledged he now faces a challenging period.
“No-one makes a mistake on purpose. Fair play to him for going to the fans,” Gerrard said.
“I admire him for owning up and apologising. These Liverpool fans will back you when times are tough, and they’ll also back you when you’re on top of the world as well.
“But there’s no getting away from it. He is in for a tough few months. He’s in for a tough summer.”
Karius’s manager Juergen Klopp said the keeper will be backed by the club.
“I really feel for him; he’s a fantastic boy. Now, he has to deal with it, we have to deal with, we will do that – of course we will be with him, there’s no doubt about that. It was not his night, obviously,” he said.
But football is a cruel business and there have been long been question marks over whether Karius or his rival for the keeper’s shirt, Belgian Simon Mignolet, are up to the standard needed for Liverpool’s challenges in Europe and at home.
Former Anfield player turned pundit, Mark Lawrenson, wrote on the BBC website that while he felt sorry for the keeper Karius’s career at the club may be over.
“I don’t see any way back for him at Liverpool now,” he said.
“Even if Klopp backs him publicly as well as privately, he must know that he is not good enough for Liverpool and what they want to achieve.
“You need a top goalkeeper to win trophies and he is not one of those. Can they afford to keep playing him, thinking he might become one? No. Karius always looks like he has a mistake in him, and that cost them dearly on Saturday night.”
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge)