Real Madrid Beat Liverpool To Claim Their 14th European Cup
Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 to claim their 14th European Cup at the Stade de France in Paris. The Spanish giants claimed their fifth Champions League trophy in nine seasons. Real Madrid became kings of the continent once again thanks to Vinicius Junior’s strike in a Champions League final marred by chaos outside the Stade de France. Paris stepped in as host after UEFA stripped St Petersburg of the showpiece following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but it did not provide a fitting host as European royalty went toe-to-toe in the biggest club match of the season.
While both teams got off to a cautious start, Sadio Mane came even closer in the 21st minute with a low shot that Madrid goalkeeper Courtois managed to tip onto the post. Liverpool continued with their high-pressing game with Mohamed Salah testing the Spanish goalkeeper twice in search of a lead. Madrid almost scored before the break but Karim Benzema's effort was ruled offside after a lengthy VAR review. The French striker did rifle the ball home in the 43rd minute. The Brazil winger fired in from a close-range finish in the 59th minute from Federico Valverde’s drive across the face of goal, giving Madrid a 1-0 lead in the summit clash. The Spanish giants now have double the number of European Cups as the No. 2 on the list, AC Milan. Liverpool remains on six. Earlier, the game was evenly poised at 0-0 by the halftime with Liverpool hitting the post and enjoying the possession in the first 45 minutes. There was a 36-minute delay to the kick-off as police tried to hold off people trying to force their way into the stadium.
Real did not have a straightforward route to the final. They had to battle from the jaws of defeat on three occasions in knockout games against Premier League champions City, Ligue 1 victors PSG and previous holders Chelsea. Many had Liverpool as heavy favourites heading into the final given the quality and strength-in-depth of their squad. But it easier is to outwit the Reds than Madrid’s previous opponents, with Vinicius Jnr’s second-half strike proving the difference.
Liverpool had chances aplenty in the first half. Rather, in the first 40 minutes. But the second half proved to be a different story. The script did suggest that. Los Blancos had won their seven previous Champions League finals (which became eight in the end). And Liverpool players, bar a few, appeared to accept it was hard to get past the resolute Real Madrid defence. Liverpool’s quest for a quadruple thus ends with two trophies - League Cup and FA Cup - and in agony in the Premier League and Champions League.
The Italian had already reached a milestone this season. He became the first manager to win a title in all five big European leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France). Now he has become the most successful manager in European football. Ancelotti, managing a team in the Champions League final for the fifth time - also a record - has now won the European Cup four times. He thus goes past Zinedine Zidane and Bob Paisley as the managers with three titles.
With the Champions League title, and the manner of the run over the course of 13 matches, Ancelotti definitely deserves more credit.
Liverpool’s lack of ideas was in part fostered by Real Madrid growing into the game. Having endured 40 minutes of Liverpool pressure with Courtois making save after save, with Modric finding it difficult to get himself involved, Casemiro making repeated turnovers, the final five minutes of the first half and the second half were different stories. It was a heart-breaking end to a memorable season for Liverpool, who won the Carabao Cup and FA Cup before being pipped to the Premier League title by a point and losing in the French capital.
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