Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish believes media reporting of crowd problems at the delayed Champions League final has "totally exonerated" Reds fans.

The showpiece match, which Real Madrid won 1-0 at the Stade de France on Saturday, had its start twice as UEFA pushed back the kick-off time.

European football's governing body initially moved the start back by 15 minutes after citing "security reasons" for the hold-up.

The two teams returned for a second warm-up at 21:05 local time before the match finally started at 21:36 – 36 minutes later than planned – after a second delay.

Liverpool fans complained of heavy-handed policing outside the stadium, suggesting tear gas or pepper spray had been used on supporters. A number of British-based journalists reported first-hand accounts of witnessing poor organisation and inappropriate behaviour outside the stadium by French authorities.

The Premier League club subsequently requested a formal investigation, while UEFA blamed the delays on fans trying to use "fake tickets" to gain entry.

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin also claimed "thousands" of Reds fans had tried to use counterfeit tickets or attempted to force entry to the stadium.

Liverpool fan group Spirit of Shankly accused UEFA of "shambolic mismanagement", and Dalglish followed suit by defending the Reds supporters.

"I think the fans are totally exonerated if you read all the press reports, and I think the French authorities should be a bit embarrassed with the way they behaved," Dalglish told Sky Sports.

"If it's normal, then fine, but our fans never behaved anything other than supportive of the football club."

Some supporters suggested the problems in the French capital were reminiscent of Hillsborough, scene of the tragedy when 97 people died after a crush developed in the Leppings Lane end at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

Dalglish refused to compare the events in France to the disaster at the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Sheffield Wednesday's home stadium, but he condemned the problems in Paris.

"If that's how bad it was, that tells you how sad it must be, but I think it's wrong to compare Hillsborough with anything else," he added.

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish proclaimed "maybe romance isn't dead" and is dreaming of a famous Reds comeback against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Los Blancos were a class above Jurgen Klopp's men in Tuesday's first leg in the Spanish capital, Madrid running out 3-1 winners with Vinicius Jr scoring twice and Marco Asensio also on target.

Europe's premier competition is Liverpool's last remaining hope of silverware this term after a faltering defence of their Premier League title.

The odds may be against Liverpool ahead of the second leg at Anfield but with the final being played at the Ataturk Stadium – the venue of their famous comeback from 3-0 at half-time against Milan in the 2005 showpiece – Dalglish believes all is not lost.

"We're 3-1 down in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, playing again on Wednesday against Real Madrid, the final is being played at the Ataturk Stadium which is the stadium where we beat AC Milan on penalties," Dalglish said in quotes published by several British newspapers. 

"So maybe romance is not yet dead and the bad season is going to have a happy ending."

Liverpool are no strangers to memorable European comebacks and overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit against Barcelona in the semi-finals en route to winning the trophy in 2019.

But Dalglish thinks the circumstances are different against Zinedine Zidane's side.

"I think what will make it harder [than the Barcelona game] is that Real are a better team than Barcelona were," he added. 

"Barcelona won 3-0 at the Nou Camp and they missed a sitter late on with the last kick of the game.

"You thought at the time, 'that's given us a chance now'. Real Madrid have got a better team defensively even though they had to make changes [in the first leg] – [Sergio] Ramos never played and they had to bring a couple of guys in. They're better than Barcelona were."

Last term, Liverpool romped to a first top-flight title since 1990, a team that was managed by Dalglish.

This season, the Reds are in seventh with only eight games to play, some 25 points back of runaway leaders Manchester City and three adrift of West Ham in fourth.

Dalglish feels Liverpool's extensive injuries have played a contributing factor.

"There are no excuses, but there are some reasons. For me, one of the biggest contributory factors was losing four players in the same position, because then that was the back four out of commission or certainly weaker than they were," he added.

"When you look at Van Dijk, you're looking at a colossus and you're thinking, 'how do I get past him?'

"It's the same with [Joel] Matip beside him, Joe Gomez... they had to put the two stalwarts from midfield, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, back into the back four, so they are now 20 yards deeper than they would normally play.

"You couldn't replace those two in the middle of the pitch. I think it was just unfortunate that that happened. Virgil has been a huge miss, but when you're not winning games, anyone not playing is a huge miss.

"I think the players are as hungry as they were last year, they are trying to replicate what they did. They lost six in a row at Anfield which is unheard of. 

"People might attribute it to no fans being in, and it is detrimental to Liverpool that they have not had the fan support because they have always been a huge part of the success at the football club."

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