Real Madrid retain the UEFA Champions League

Real Madrid won the UEFA Champions League for the third consecutive time as Loris Karius’s two howlers paved the way for a 3-1 win in favour of the Spanish side.

Real Madrid's players and technical staff celebrating their success
Real Madrid's players and technical staff celebrating their success

Real Madrid started the match as favourites to win their third consecutive UEFA Champions League. However, they had to overcome a solid Liverpool side who were seeking to win their sixth UEFA Champions League. The English side won their last UEFA Champions League final thirteen years ago when they overcame Milan following a penalty shoot-out win.

Zinedine Zidane decided to start the same eleven players that started last year’s final against Juventus. Nine of these players also started against Atletico two years ago.

On the other hand, there were no surprises in Jurgen Klopp’s starting eleven. James Milner returned to the side after missing the Premier League finale through injury, while Emre Can returned to the bench.

Real Madrid’s route to the final saw them overcoming Paris Saint Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich during the knock-out stages. Meanwhile, Liverpool eliminated Porto, Manchester City and Roma.

The Spanish giants created the first chance of the match after ten minutes. Marcelo’s low shot from distance sailed wide.

Five minutes later, Daniel Carvajal served Cristiano Ronaldo down the right flank and the latter ran forward before firing a shot that ended up slightly over.

Liverpool replied three minutes later. Mohamed Salah delivered a cross from a corner that was met by Virgil Van Dijk who headed the ball off target.

Klopp’s side kept on insisting and went close again on the 23rd minute. Trent Alexander-Arnold sent a fierce shot through the defence that was neutralised by Keylor Navas.

Liverpool suffered a set-back on the half hour mark as Salah was forced to leave the pitch after suffering an injury. Adam Lallana took his place.

Zidane was also required to make an early substitution since Carvajal also got injured and was replaced by Nacho.

Real Madrid had a goal disallowed two minutes prior to half-time. Ronaldo’s header was superbly saved by Karius. The ball went into the path of Karim Benzema who placed it inside the net. However, the assistant referee raised his flag for an offside.

A minute later, Nacho saw his powerful shot ending up slightly wide.

Benzema also tried his luck from distance during the additional time, but his effort went marginally off target.

The post denied Real Madrid three minutes into the second half. Lallana’s attempted clearance fell kindly for Isco. The Spanish player attempted to place the ball past Karius, but his effort stamped off the upright.

Real Madrid forged ahead following a howler by Karius on the 51st minute. The German goalkeeper tried to quickly roll the ball out. Benzema stuck a toe out and diverted the ball inside the net.

Liverpool hit back and equalised on the 55th minute. From a corner, Roberto Firmino floated the ball into the middle and Dejan Lovren headed it towards the danger zone in the direction of Sadio Mane who finished home from close range.

Zidane’s side responded five minutes later. Nacho drilled a low cross towards Isco whose effort forced a good save from Karius.

Real Madrid regained the lead on the 64th minute through Gareth Bale who had been on the pitch for just two minutes. Marcelo delivered a cross towards the Welshman and the latter performed a spectacular effort that gave Karius no chance.

The post denied Liverpool as well on the 70th minute. Mane fired a low shot from distance that bounced off the woodwork.

Ronaldo could have scored Real’s third goal if it wasn’t for Andrew Robertson. The Portuguese was put through on goal, but delayed his finish. The Scottish player rushed back and made an excellent tackle to deflect his effort.

Karius denied Real Madrid from scoring again on the 81st minute. Bale played a fantastic ball towards Benzema. However, the French forward saw his effort being saved by Liverpool’s custodian.

Bale sealed Real Madrid’s win on the 83rd minute. The twenty-eight year old fired a shot straight at Karius. The German goalkeeper was expected to make an easy save, but instead he fumbled the ball inside the net. This was definitely a game that will mark Karius’s career.

Following this result, Real Madrid won their thirteenth UEFA Champions League.

Real Madrid starting line-up: Keylor Navas, Daniel Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Isco, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

Liverpool starting line-up: Loris Karius, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil Van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Andrew Robertson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane

Referee: Milorad Mazic (Serbia)

Assistant Referees: Milovan Ristic, Dalibor Djurdjevic

Additional Assistant Referees: Nenad Djokic, Danilo Grujic

Fourth Official: Clement Turpin