Real Madrid win La Undecima as Cristiano Ronaldo’s decisive penalty fired Los Blancos past Atletico in the Champions League final on Saturday.
Ronaldo was free to take his place up top for Madrid after he shook off a training-ground clash with Kiko Casilla in good time, while Atletico surprisingly went with Stefan Savic over usual first-choice Jose Maria Gimenez in the heart of defence.
Atleti ended the first half with more possession than Madrid, but that statistic was misleading as they did very little with the ball, to the extent that Los Blancos were successfully playing them at their own game and squeezed the pitch.
The designated hosts were by far the better team on and off the ball, their passing crisp, their movement fluid and tackling on point, and Jan Oblak was quickly forced to make a point-blank stop from Gareth Bale’s free kick, which dipped, swerved and took a nick off Casemiro.
Not long after, Madrid took the lead when Toni Kroos then whipped the ball into the Atleti box, and Bale devilishly flicks it over the crowd of red and white shirts for Ramos, who bundled it home after he got the beating of Savic. The defender appeared offside as the ball fell his way, but the linesman kept his flag down.
Atleti, meanwhile, didn’t get a shot off until the 25th minute, Juanfran’s volley from outside the area having headed for orbit. Karim Benzema, at the other end, skipped past Godin and saw his cross-cum-shot punched clear by Oblak after he was dragged a tad wide by a through ball.
However, Griezmann woke up towards the end of the first half as Gabi chips a visionary ball over the top for the Frenchman to take on in the Madrid box, but his saved volley is overruled by the linesman’s flag, before he fired a low effort half-a-yard wide of Keylor Navas.
The restart coincided with the introduction of Carrasco for Augusto as Simeone looked to breathe some life into his team, and Pepe gifted Atleti just that, the Portuguese awfully late as he crashed into the back of Fernando Torres on the turn. However, Griezmann – so often the man for the big occasion – failed to deliver as his shot crashed against the upright.
Carvajal then pulled up near his own box, and that was his night finished as he left the pitch in tears to be replaced by Danilo. Staying in the Madrid end, Diego Godin failed to take advantage of a free header from a corner, before Savic couldn’t turn in the ball as it dropped in front of him.
Madrid proceeded to break from a failed Atleti attack as Modric released an unmarked Karim Benzema down the right, but Oblak denied the Frenchman from close range. Pepe took centre stage again shortly after, although Mark Clattenburg was having none of this antics, which saw the the defender roll around from Filipe Luis gently touching his face after a duel between the pair.
Two more gilt-edged chances for Los Merengues followed, Ronaldo shut out by Oblak in a one-on-one after he was played in behind, before Savic made a game-saving block to keep out Bale’s rebounded drive. The latter provided the cue for Juanfran to latch onto a ball over the top down the right, and his low cross was met at the far post by Carrasco, whose sliding finish flew into the back of Madrid’s net.
Kroos’ departure signalled Madrid’s loss of control in the match as the German’s teammates were out on their feet, although Bale tried to engineer the winner when he rounded a sliding tackle on the edge of the Atleti box, but his cross-cum-shot was parried away by Oblak. He then floated a header just over from the corner.
The counterattack was on for Atleti with just seconds of normal time to spare as Carrasco dived onto the ball through the middle with a delightful first touch, and Ramos crashed into the winger from behind, aware the Belgian could’ve sprinted clear of the Madrid backline.
Extra time failed to conjure up a winner, Ronaldo’s header from a corner deflected into Oblak’s gloves and Savic and substitute Lucas Hernandez among the Atleti players making crucial blocks, so an 11th penalty shootout was needed to decide the fate of the European cup.
Both sides put on a masterclass in how to take a penalty as seven out of seven were scored, but Juanfran gave Madrid the initiative as his effort struck the post, and up stepped Ronaldo to emphatically send Oblak the wrong way for not just the win, but the trophy.
Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid (aet, 5-3 pen.)
Ramos 15 (RM) Carrasco 79 (AM)
Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal (Danilo 52), Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Kroos (Isco 72), Modric, Casemiro; Bale, Benzema (Vazquez 77), Ronaldo
Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Juanfran, Godin, Savic, Filipe (Lucas 109); Saul, Gabi, Augusto (Carrasco 46), Koke (Thomas 116); Torres, Griezmann
Referee: Clattenburg [ENG]