The redemption narrative seemed set. After allowing Manchester City to go ahead on a soft shot from a bad angle that bounced underneath him as he dove, Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet had been heroic in his efforts to keep them in the game.
Multiple point-blank saves had kept Liverpool from going a second down, and while he might have deserved blame for the one he let in, there were two or three others almost any other ‘keeper would have had to fish out of the back of the goal. On balance, there was more good.
On balance, Simon Mignolet could say he was the man most responsible for giving Liverpool a chance to win the League Cup final on penalties. And while in time he might be interested in figuring out the how and why of it, right now he’s mostly just disappointed by the result.
"Losing is difficult to take," Mignolet told the Liverpool Echo. "every time you play a final there is only one thing that counts, and that’s winning it. We lost and it’s a disappointing feeling. We’ll try to think about it tonight and tomorrow, and then we’ll make a better analysis."
Given Mignolet’s struggles this season, many will focus on the one he let in. Given his struggles, it may be that the club will still prioritize finding a new goalkeeper in the summer. On the evidence of Sunday’s final, though, there’s still something of that world class shot stopper there.
Mignolet has struggled with consistency, and his command of his area hasn’t improved as many would have hoped, but had he let in the shots he stopped while saving that one soft goal that got through, nobody would have much complained about it. That’s not enough for Mignolet, though.
"When you play a final, you only want to win," he added. "If you lose in the 90 minutes or after extra time and penalties it doesn’t matter—it’s hard to take. All I’m thinking about is the fact that we lost a final [and] we have to pick ourselves up because we have another game against Man City in the league.
"It’s not easy after a final, but we have to perform and make sure we keep going in the Premier League and in the Europa League. We have to do it together. We have to go again, and we have the chance to play again soon."