Two goal keeping errors from goalkeeper, Karius gifted Real Madrid with their thirteenth UEFA Champions League title and their third straight on the road.
Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid last year became the only team to have won back to back Champions League title in the new format and this year like their captain Sergio Ramos said pre match that they are here to define en era for themselves by lifting the trophy for a third time. Madrid midfield maestro Luka Modric also talked about how just like the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers won the three-peat and established a dynasty so too has Real Madrid in football.
The match at Kyiv had started just like everybody predicted with high intensity press and closing down by Liverpool while Real kept more of the ball and decided to tire out a more youthful and energetic side from London. The first big blow, not only for Liverpool but for the entire football community came when a teary eyed Salah was substituted before the half hour mark following a shoulder injury after him and Ramos tussled. During the post-match interview Klopp said that the injury was serious but doctors have confirmed that Salah will indeed recover before the World cup, the same however cannot be said for Madrid’s Carvajal who went down moments later with what could be an achilles problem. 2 years ago in the same Champions League final Carvajal suffered a similar injury and was sidelined for the Euro 2016 and now might face a similar fate for the upcoming World Cup. The First half was mostly bland if not for the denied goal for Madrid following an offside call.
The second half had all the action when goalkeeper Karius in process of distribution threw the ball straight into the legs of Benzema who had come to pressure him, the entire Liverpool were forced to watch the ball roll in to their net and Real take the lead. Liverpool were quick to respond with their own when Mane scored from a Liverpool corner. Real’s dribbling sensation Isco had two good chances, one of which hit the woodworks and knowing it might not be his night, Zidane replaced him for Bale at the hour mark. The Welshmen was quick to make a mark as he bicycle kicked a cross from Marcelo beyond the goalkeeper’s reach. The goal was very similar to the one Ronaldo did in the quarterfinals against Juventus and they were even at the same time - 63:01. The goal will undoubtedly go down as one of the best ever Champions League final goal as the man that previously held the title, Zidane was in disbelief from seeing the ball bulge the net. Liverpool found new strength and vigor and played with much more intensity and even rattled the post when mane took a shot but the experienced Los Blancos remained calm and quietly went about with their game plan. Modric was dictating everything in the midfield and the Reds had no answer on how to dispossess him or rattle his game. The final nail in the coffin was struck when Bale fired a shot from 25 yards and Karius failed to hold on to it and the ball bobbled into the net thus ending the night at 3-1.
Liverpool in truth had just two mistakes from the goalkeeper, the rest of the team had played to their usual high standards and the absence of Salah might have also played a part. Having said this there is no question that Real Madrid was indeed the better side from defense to offense and with most of the squad already having 4 Champions League titles the question of experience does not even play a significant role. The celebrations at Madrid will start the following day but the question needs to be raised – “can anyone beat Real Madrid in Europe”