You had to feel for Loris Karius, even if plenty would prefer to have throttled him instead.
Liverpool’s goalkeeper will have dreamed of a defining, headline-grabbing performance in the Champions League final. He’ll have imagined being the man to make the difference, the match-winner, the talking point.
Not like this.
In the cold light of day, this is another final that has been and gone for Liverpool. It’s the fourth they’ve lost in a row, three of which have been under Jurgen Klopp. Klopp’s own losing run now stretches to six, a fact the Reds boss is painfully aware of.
It is one of those brutal parts of football that a manager is expected to give as much time to the media in defeat as he is in victory. After a game such as this it feels especially cruel, and certainly Klopp cut a disconsolate figure as he made his way through his post-match duties in Kiev on Saturday evening. It was hard not to feel for him, too. We talk about players ‘leaving everything on the pitch’ but what about managers? The pain is perhaps even greater.
"I did the best I could and it wasn’t good enough," Klopp said, sombrely. "Sorry."
With that he was gone, although not before a round of applause from the local media, who had peppered the press conference with a series of odd and highly complimentary questions. Klopp, he was told, "makes football better" and is "a true rock and roller" - he looked far from delighted at either suggestion.
The bare fact is that, above all else, winning is what makes football feel good. "I turn 51 in the next month or so," Klopp pointed out. "I’ve lost games in my life before and I have won them, so I know how to deal with that.
"But what you cannot avoid is the feeling you have the night after the game. We all feel really, really bad and the trip home will not be the best trip we’ve had in our lives."
After Liverpool’s last defeat in a European final, Klopp made a point of rallying his troops with a speech at the team hotel. "This is just the start," he told them, turning a funeral parade into a party in the process. "We are Liverpool," sang his players.
This was different. Liverpool chose to return to Merseyside straight after the game rather than spending another evening in Kiev, and one can imagine the mood on that flight. What do you say? What can you say? Not even Klopp can make this one feel better.
His three finals with Liverpool have all been lost, and all due in no small part to individual errors. To Simon Mignolet’s fumble in the League Cup final and Alberto Moreno’s meltdown in the Europa League we can now add Karius, whose horror was even more inexplicable – and costly. His was a nightmare that will be hard to forget.
The way Klopp works means that no single player will ever be held responsible for a result, whether good or bad. Jordan Henderson said as much after the game; "we are all together," stated the captain. "It’s not about Loris."
That camaraderie has taken the Reds a long way, and we should not expect anything to change on the back of one game. The wider issue for Klopp, though, is that he is still to find the magic formula to turn eye-catching football and genuine progress into the thing everyone at the club craves; silverware.
He pointed out, quite rightly, that his players have worked wonders to make their way to a Champions League final. They outlasted the English, Italian, German and Spanish champions, and gave Real plenty of problems in Kiev. Had Mohamed Salah not been introduced to Sergio Ramos, the outcome may well have been different.
Klopp’s loyalty to his players is understandable. They give him everything, every single week. They play for their manager. The question, then, is not whether they could give more but whether some will ever be able to give enough. A team is only as strong as its weakest link. Karius, as harsh as it is, shows that, just as Mignolet did and Moreno did before him. He probably did even before Saturday, if we’re being truthful.
Many have spoken about Liverpool’s ‘journey’ this week, as if Kiev was a final destination. It wasn’t; if anything this side are ahead of schedule. They’re a good starting XI with little behind it; they’ve done superbly to get this far.
To take that next step, they must improve once more. Some extra depth in attack would be most welcome, while Naby Keita’s arrival should be added to with the signing of at least one high-calibre midfield player. Liverpool have some very good footballers, they just need more of them.
As for the goalkeeper, that is a question that will be asked and must be answered. There should be no witch hunt against Karius, but it is fair to ask whether Liverpool can persist with someone who can make such errors at such crucial times.
For now, though, they are left with their feelings. No victory parade, just the feeling of what might have been. Hard lines, sure, but hard lessons too. Time to learn them.
The journey continues, for Klopp and for Liverpool.