Gareth Bale came off the bench to score one of the great goals in Champions League history and add to Loris Karius’ personal ordeal by sealing Real Madrid’s third consecutive European title with a 3-1 win over Liverpool.
Much of the pre-match build-up centred on the anticipated battle between star forwards Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo in Kiev, but the duel was cut short before the half hour when Liverpool’s talisman suffered an apparent shoulder injury.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Real Madrid (4-1-2-3): Navas 5, Carvajal 6 (Nacho 37 – 7), Varane 8, Ramos 8, Marcelo 7, Modric 7.5, Casemiro 7, Kroos 8, Isco 5 (Bale 61- 8.5), Benzema 8.5 (Asensio 88), Ronaldo 7
Subs: Casilla, Hernandez, Lucas, Kovacic
Manager: Zinedine Zidane 8
Scorers: Benzema 51, Bale 64, 83
Liverpool (4-3-3): Karius 3, Alexander-Arnold 6, Lovren 7, Van Dijk 7, Robertson 7.5, Milner 6.5 (Can 82), Henderson 7, Wijnaldum 6, Salah 6 (Lallana 31 – 6), Firmino 6, Mane 8
Subs: Mignolet, Clyne, Klavan, Moreno, Solanke
Manager: Jurgen Klopp 6
Scorers: Mane 55
Referee: Milorad Mazic (Serbia) 7
Man of the Match: Gareth Bale.
But keeping their heads was as important. There was a glimmer of light when Varane’s headed intervention was just enough to stop Firmino meeting a cross and heading in on 55 minutes. Chances were coming. And then, from the corner, hope rekindled. Milner found Lovren, who rose brilliantly and headed goal-wards. And Mané just reacted quicker than anyone, stealing a yard, sticking out a leg and deflecting the ball home.
Belief returned. The stadium, vast swathes of it echoed again echoed to the sounds of The Kop. Yet soon another blow would arrive, this time as extraordinary as the first goal was ridiculous. Gareth Bale had only be on the pitch three minutes, coming on for Isco. There seemed little danger when Marcelo dinked in a cross from the left. Yet, back to goal Bale rose, if a little ungainly, with scarcely-believable athleticism to meet it with his foot, a good metre and a half off the ground. It was the most spectacular of overhead kicks and simply soared into the net, a goal to match his manager’s supreme effort at this final in 2002.
Yet Liverpool didn’t retreat. They rebooted and came back at Real Madrid. And Mané was to the fore. Ramos needed to stretch out a desperate left to prevent him racing through on goal on 69 minutes. A minute later, his strike from outside the box produced a fine save from Navas, tipping the ball on to the post.