Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool
The Champions League final was as highly anticipated as any in recent years and due to all the wrong reasons, the world was given an extra 45 minutes to continue waiting. UEFA once again proved that their influence tends to cause issues for fans rather than help them.
Once the football had started, the fans could feast. The first half of the tie followed the script. Liverpool tentatively took control, moving forward with threat and menace. That was converted into tangible chances – all of them on target came into contact with Thibaut Courtois. The first from Mohamed Salah at the far post, the second from touched onto the near post from a fierce Sadio Mane shot. It was to be the story of the match.
Real Madrid warned of their clinical edge at the end of the first half, with Karim Benzema tucking away a scramble having snuck in behind the Liverpool defence. That was controversially ruled out and Liverpool were given a reprieve.
The second half more or less followed a similar script. Only Vincius Junior wasn’t offside. Liverpool came forward with less dominance, conscious of the fact Los Blancos were in their groove, beginning swerve and jink out of the pressure. Twice they did so down the right and the second time, Fede Valverde fired the ball across the box and Vinicius converted, as he so often has done this season.
Liverpool began committing more bodies forward, but as time ebbed away, so did the belief that they could find a way past Courtois by footballing means. Salah controlled perfectly, worked a yard from Ferland Mendy and fired what should have been the perfect equaliser. Only Courtois’ arm was already in place to deflect it wide.
After making nine saves and the largest goalkeeping contribution to a final in some time, it was only fitting that Courtois should clutch Liverpool’s last attack in his hands in the dying seconds.
Finals are not for playing they’re for winning, so the saying goes. Real Madrid took that mentality into every Champions League tie this season. Where there was a way, they found one. Where there was a hero, he wore white. For the fourteenth time, Real Madrid proved themselves kings of Europe.