Real Madrid win the Champions League

Gareth Bale scored in extra-time to deliver the Champions League to Real Madrid and leave Atletico Madrid heartbroken.

Bale found the target in the 109th minute of an absorbing encounter, heading in at the far post after Angel Di Maria belied the draining game that had gone before with a bursting run.

Diego Godin had netted the opener in the first-half after a Madrid failed to deal with a set-piece, Casillas’ decision to rush out to try and claim a looping header back-firing as the defender’s touch left the captain stranded.

Atleti held the lead for almost the entire second-half but Sergio Ramos eventually made Madrid’s pressure tell, meeting a 93rd minute corner to send the tie to extra-time.

Marcelo made it 3-1 as Atletico’s legs gave out, Thibaut Courtois making a rare error, and Cristiano Ronaldo added a penalty to give the score line an unfair complexion.

The game was a tetchy and hard-fought contest between two dogged, determined and well-matched sides.

Both were looking to make history – Atletico to claim a first European Cup 40 years after their last final appearance, Madrid to claim the fabled Decima, 12 years after their last Champions League victory.

Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo were all fit for Real Madrid but Pepe only made the bench, Raphael Varane starting in his place.

Sami Khedira came in for the suspended Xabi Alonso with Asier Illarramendi among the substitutes.

Diego Costa started the match but lasted less than 10 minutes, his hamstring injury forcing an early change with Adrian coming on.

Turkey international Arda Turan didn’t even get that far, failing to recover in time to make the match day squad.

The opening stages were predictably cagey, Madrid dominating most of the ball but not getting a second’s peace with Atletico players always paying close attention.

With midfields cancelling each other out and defences snuffing out any hint of an attack there was little of the anticipated spark.

A burgeoning Ronaldo break was suffocated by a posse of Atletico players before Sergio Ramos’ wild swing at an Atletico cross caused palpitations but no lasting damage bar the corner.

Angel Di Maria led the break and it took a Raul Garcia lunge to halt the Argentine. Garcia was booked for the challenge, while Ramos was cautioned for getting in Garcia’s face. Ronaldo’s resulting free-kick was well-fielded by Thibaut Courtois.

Atleti made a number of last-gasp tackles to try and prevent Madrid counter-attacks, more than one of Simeone’s players walking a disciplinary tightrope.

Bale had a presentable chance after intercepting a Tiago pass and bursting forward, but the Wales international couldn’t finish under pressure from a cadre of recovering Atleti players.

When the opener game it was fittingly untidy. Godin flicked a header towards Casillas’ goal as the skipper came to claim. Casillas was caught under the ball and tried to claw it out but it crossed the line regardless.

Atleti went close to a second from another corner a few minutes later, Adrian sending a powerful header over the bar as Los Colchoneros ended the half on top with Madrid shell-shocked.

Simeone’s side remained on top after the break. Red-and-white shirts were first to almost every loose ball – and the ones they weren’t able to reach were contested with great fire, although not always on the right side of the law.

Filipe Luis and David Villa made particularly telling challenges but a Miranda bear hug gave Madrid a free-kick in dangerous territory. Ronaldo’s effort was deflected then parried over the bar for a succession of corners as Madrid showed signs of life.

Adrian then drew a couple of corners for Atletico as Los Rojiblancos pushed for a second goal, the substitute having one well-struck shot diverted wide by Khedira.

Ancelotti made a double change on the hour, introducing Marcelo and Isco for Fabio Coentrao and Khedira, the Italian gambling as the game slipped away.

A deep cross glanced off Ronaldo and evaded Benzema at the far post but Madrid struggled to create a real chance to restore parity. Isco later dragged a shot wide from the edge of a crowded Atletico penalty area.

The game, thrilling in its own peculiar way, saw Atleti continue to press emphatically as the hour mark came and went, Simeone shifting his team’s shape by pushing Adrian to the left.

Di Maria danced into the Atletico area but there was no end product from the midfielder’s delightful run, a rare moment of subtlety in a bruising game.

Casillas will have a quite literal bruise as a consequence of beating Villa to an inviting cross and getting a thump on his chest as a result before Bale sent a shot past the post in a rare moment of inspiration from the winger.

Ronaldo sent an athletic volley over the bar as Madrid came more into the match in the final quarter of an hourand Bale went close again, shooting for the near post when a better option was to go across goal.

Madrid ratcheted up the pressure as the final 10 minutes approach, Atletico defending with everyone bar Villa behind the ball and, at times, on the edge of the box.

A cross sliding along the six yard box gave Atletico cause for concern before the ball eventually was claimed by Thibaut Courtois while more last-gasp defending kept the lead intact.

But it didn’t last, a series of corners eventually finding Ramos, who sent a powerful and well-placed header past the despairing Courtois with the final whistle in sight.

Extra-time understandably started slow. Atletico lacked the same snap in their pressing and Madrid had no need to hurry with 30 minutes to come.

The first period of extra-time was almost a collective pause for breath, both sides regrouping after a frantic 90 minutes. Gabi’s yellow card for bringing down Marcelo and a tame Madrid header in added time was about the peak of incident worth speaking of.

Atletico were visibly tiring as extra-time went on, Marcelo, a Madrid substitute on the hour, comfortably the freshest player of all, and Simeone’s side unable to pose a genuine attacking threat from open play. Villa and particularly Juanfran were passengers for extra-time.

Madrid took the lead for the first time with 11 minutes to play, Bale becoming the first Welshman to score in the European Cup final, but it wasn’t plain sailing for the eventual winners.

Casillas had another rush of blood and nearly gave Tiago a clear sight of goal, only for the midfielder to rush the shot and Madrid’s players to have stern words with the goalkeeper.

Marcelo made certain of the victory with a third that Courtois might have saved if not for the mental exertion of the occasion before Ronaldo won and converted a spot kick.

Simeone stormed onto the pitch after the fourth, perhaps still angry over the five minutes added time, as the game ended in an ugly manner for Atleti.

None of Madrid’s goals were as spectacular as Zinidine Zidane’s at Hampden Park in 2002 but for Madridista’s, they were arguably more special.

Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid

Godin 36 (AM), Ramos 90+3, Bale 109, Marcelo 118, Ronaldo pen 120 (RM)

Real Madrid: Casillas; Carvajal, Varane, Sergio Ramos, Coentrao (Marcelo 59); Khedira (Isco 59), Modric, Di Maria; Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema (Morata 79), Bale

Atletico Madrid: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe Luis (Alderweireld 83); Tiago, Gabi, Koke, Raul Garcia (Sosa 66); Villa, Diego Costa (Adrian 9)

Tags Champions League Final Gareth Bale
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