KIEV, May 27
A sensational overhead strike from Real Madrid substitute Gareth Bale and two calamitous errors by Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius gave the Spanish side a third straight Champions League title with a 3-1 win in an incident-packed final on Saturday.
Welshman Bale came on just past the hour with the score at 1-1 and after three minutes produced an astonishing bicycle kick finish and then netted with a speculative long-range effort that somehow went through the hands of the unfortunate Karius. The German keeper had earlier handed Real a 51st minute lead when he threw the ball straight at striker Karim Benzema and the ball rolled into the unguarded net off the Frenchman’s leg.
“Great emotions. To lift three Champions League trophies with this club, this team is magnificent,” said Real’s Zinedine Zidane, who became the first coach to win Europe’s top trophy in three consecutive years. “We don’t quite realise what we have achieved yet. We are going to enjoy the moment. “
Liverpool, who crucially lost their leading scorer Mohamed Salah to a suspected dislocated shoulder in the 31st minute, had equalised in the 55th minute when Sadio Mane found the net from close range after Dejan Lovren headed the ball into the area. In truth, though, despite their best efforts Liverpool never looked as much of a threat once Egyptian international Salah went down under a challenge from Real captain Sergio Ramos.
“We started well and played exactly like we wanted to,” said Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp. “The situation with Sergio Ramos (and Salah) looked really bad and it was a shock for the team, we lost the positive momentum and they immediately came up,” he said.
It was a night which confirmed Real’s ability to superbly manage the biggest of games. Bale, who has not been first-choice at Real this season and whose future has been the subject of much speculation, was the Man of the Match while 24-year-old Karius ended the night in tears as he lay flat out on the turf. Real have become the first team since Bayern Munich in 1976 to win Europe’s elite club trophy three years in a row. The Spaniards won five straight European Cup trophies in the 1950s.
Real’s fourth Champions League triumph in five years, and 13th European Cup success in total, was fully deserved despite Liverpool, the competition’s top scorers this season, making an aggressive start to the game in an electric atmosphere.
The English side attacked with intent and Trent Alexander-Arnold tested Navas with a low drive but Real looked in charge following the departure, in tears, of Salah.
Real had their own injury blow with right-back Dani Carvajal having to go off, replaced by Nacho in the 37th, and ended the half with Benzema’s effort being disallowed for offside after Cristiano Ronaldo’s header was saved by Karius. France striker Benzema was to get compensation though when he was alert to Karius’s ill-advised attempt to throw the ball out quickly, although Real’s lead lasted just four minutes. Liverpool’s Senegal forward Mane was sharp to react when Lovren rose to head the ball goalwards and their travelling fans sensed the Anfield side’s spirit could turn the game around. But then came Bale. — Reuters
Bale’s night to remember
- Gareth Bale comes on just past the hour with the score at 1-1
- After three minutes, the Welshman produces an astonishing bicycle-kick finish off a Marcelo cross
- He nets his second in the 83rd minute with a hopeful long-range effort that somehow goes through the hands of Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius
4 Champions League titles for Bale since moving to Real in 2013
Bale considering Real future
Gareth Bale proved his worth to Real Madrid by delivering the Champions League trophy but then declared he would have to consider his future at the club. Real’s record signing had been left out of the starting line-up for the final for the second year in a row as coach Zinedine Zidane played Isco instead, fielding the same side that beat Juventus 4-1 in last year’s final in Bale’s home city of Cardiff. Bale said he was not happy to have been left out of many of Real’s biggest games this season and admitted he would have to think long and hard about his future at the club where he has won so much. “I need to be playing week in, week out and that has not happened this season. I had an injury five, six weeks in but (have been) fit ever since. I have to sit down with my agent in the summer and discuss it.” — Reuters
- Real becomes the first team to win three straight titles in the Champions League era. Before the European Cup switched to the Champions League format in 1992, Real won five straight titles (1956-1960). Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam and German team Bayern Munich both won three successive European Cup trophies in the 1970s.
- Spanish clubs have won their last seven finals against English clubs (Champions League and Europa League)
- Liverpool’s Juergen Klopp has now lost five straight finals as a coach. German Klopp won his first final — the 2012 German Cup with Borussia Dortmund — but then lost the 2013 Champions League final to Bayern and the 2014 German Cup final to the Bavarians plus the 2015 German Cup final to VFl Wolfsburg. At Liverpool, he lost the 2016 League Cup final to Manchester City on penalties and, in the same season, the Europa League showpiece to Sevilla before Saturday’s defeat by Real in Kiev
A night to forget for the Reds Losing Mo
Liverpool crucially lost their leading scorer, Mohamed Salah, to a suspected dislocated shoulder in the 31st minute. Despite their best efforts, Liverpool never looked as much of a threat once Egyptian international Salah went down under a challenge from Real captain Sergio Ramos.
Klopp says Salah doubt for World Cup, Egypt more hopeful
Egypt forward Mohamed Salah is doubtful for next month’s World Cup after suffering a shoulder injury on Saturday, his club manager Juergen Klopp has said. Salah, who scored 44 goals in all competitions for Liverpool this season, left the field in tears in the 31st minute after falling heavily under a challenge by Sergio Ramos. The Egyptian tried to continue after receiving treatment on the pitch but was forced to leave the game. However, Egypt’s FA said on Twitter that Salah had sprained shoulder ligaments and they were optimistic he would be fit for the World Cup. Egypt’s Youth and Sports Minister Khaled Abd El-aziz said on his Facebook page: “It is expected Salah will need 2 weeks for treatment. He will stay in Liverpool and will have there the rehab period then will join the Egyptian team camp in Italy.” — Reuters
- Loris Karius gifts Real the lead in the 51st minute when he inexplicably throws the ball straight to Real forward Karim Benzema, who stretches out his leg and knocks it into the unguarded goal
- Then, with the score at 2-1 to Real, Karius lets a long-range effort from Gareth Bale through his hands (right, in pic)
- 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 (right, in pic). Tears flowed down his face as, after receiving some consolation, he joined his teammates in front of the Liverpool supporters and held out his hands in apology
Ronaldo drops hint he may leave Real after final triumph
Cristiano Ronaldo may have played his last game for Real Madrid after winning a fourth Champions League crown with the Spanish side on Saturday, saying he would soon make an announcement on his future. “Right now we need to enjoy ourselves but in the next few days I’ll give an answer to the fans who have always been by my side. It was beautiful to be at Real Madrid,” the Portugal forward said. “The future of any Madrid player is not important, we have just made history.” Ronaldo, who is Real’s all-time top scorer, was asked to clarify his comments but continued to give ambiguous answers. “I don’t have any doubts, it’s not important, I have to rest now, go and meet up with the Portugal team and in the next few weeks (I’ll make an announcement),” he added. The 33-year-old reacted angrily when asked if he was disappointed not to have scored. “Who’s disappointed? Perhaps they need to change the name of the Champions League to the CR7 Champions League. Who has the most titles and who has the most goals?” said the Portuguese, who has scored a record 120 goals in the competition. Coach Zinedine Zidane could not give an answer when asked about the timing of Ronaldo’s comments. — Reuters