Anyone who saw the 2018 European Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, will remember the two devastating errors made by the Liverpool keeper, Karius. Both resulted in goals, and while Real scored an unstoppable “bicycle kick” to give them a third, the two errors clearly made all the difference to the result.

In this post, we want to evaluate what happened, and attempt to learn from “someone else’s mistake – by far the cheapest way to learn.

We’ll also attempt to sympathize with Karius, at least for the first error, which arguably should not have even been a goal.

The two errors were;

  1. The first goal – Benzema deflects an attempted “roll out” by Karius into the net.
  2. The third goal – a long, speculative shot by Real’s Bale which Karius misjudged and punched into his own net.

So taking them in turn;

The first goal – Benzema deflects an attempted “roll out” by Karius into the net.

At a crucial point of the game, Karius collects the ball and finds himself with the Real striker Bendzema close at hand. Karius has an easy throw to his left, to an unmarked defender, but instead opts to roll the ball to his right, to a second defender (circles in red).


Karius has the option to throw to the unmarked defender on the left, but shapes to throw to the right…

as Karius releases the ball, Benzema makes a lunge towards the keeper and the ball
and the striker makes contract with the ball before it hits the ground…
deflecting it into the empty net…
the goalkeeper and several defenders complain and ask for a free kick against the striker, but the goal stands

While clearly an error, the rules of the game allow for protection of a goalkeeper once in “possession”, which is defined as control of the ball with one hand and any body part, goal post or the ground. The GK does NOT have to have two hands on the ball to be “in possession”. Once in possession no striker may make any motion towards the keeper until possession is “lost”, usually defined as the ball touching the ground. Obviously once kicked into the air its reasonable to assume possession has been lost and opponents can jump towards the ball. But in this case where the ball has barely left the hand, it is actually a dubious call. For more info on the subject, see here.. playing-the-ball-in-the-goalkeepers-possession US Soccer Federation 2005

Our conclusion has to be, given the rules are unto the referee, in this case Karius made a fatal error, and should have opted to throw the ball towards the unmarked defender to the left, with a lot more care, making sure to miss the striker. A lesson to all keepers – take extreme care with “distribution”.

The third goal – a long, speculative shot by Real’s Bale which Karius misjudged and punched into his own net.

Having already made an error, Karius then conceded a second goal with an unstoppable bicycle kick, and with the game dying and Liverpool trying to find energy to search for the equalizer, Karius was tested once again. This time by Real’s Bale, unhindered and able to launch a speculative shot from about 35yrds, spinning and moving in the air, at a nice height for the keeper to see it all the way.

The following slideshow explains precisely how Karius made the error… and in a nutshell, it was all about footwork – he was slow to move his feet as the ball moved in the air, and at the point of contact with the ball, his feet weren’t connected to the floor – he was off balance and falling forward, such that his hands were unstable and the ball simply bounced off one hand into the net.

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and once the ball arrives at Karius just above head height, Karius is still setting his feet, his right foot in the air..


So in summary, there are two critical lessons for all keepers in Karius’s errors;

  1. Take extreme care with distributing the ball – both throwing/rolling, and kicking the ball.
  2. Make sure you move your feet as fast as you can to obtain the best body shape possible, as the ball arrives.

Remember, learning from someone else’s mistakes are the cheapest of all life’s lessons.

See the full action here..