Champions League final – Ronaldo v Mane
How Cristiano Ronaldo and Sadio Mane impacted the Champions League final.
The Champions League final in Kiev was billed as Cristiano Ronaldo v Mohamed Salah as Real Madrid took on Liverpool.
But a suspected dislocated shoulder cruelly ended the Egyptian’s evening early and Liverpool’s attacking focus shifted to Sadio Mane.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at the impact Ronaldo and Mane made in the game as Madrid won the Champions League for a third successive year.
Ronaldo’s 15 goals have carried Real Madrid to the final and he had several chances to add to his tally, but had an off-day in front of goal. He shot over from an acute angle early on and then put a free header straight at Loris Karius just before half-time, with Karim Benzema’s effort from the rebound ruled out for offside. Another opportunity came after the break, which would have put the game to bed, but he wanted too much time to get his shot away and allowed Andrew Robertson to make a tackle.
Mane was Liverpool’s most dangerous player even before Salah went off injured, but he was certainly the focal point after it. He got the crucial equaliser four minutes after Benzema’s opener when he poked home from a corner and almost produced a second when his low effort from distance thudded into the post.
Ronaldo started as an out-and-out left winger, perhaps to provide an early test to Trent Alexander-Arnold, but after a quiet opening reverted to his usual central position, where he came into the game a lot more.
Having created early danger on the left by running at Dani Carvajal, Mane was forced to switch to the right in the wake of Salah’s exit and that allowed him to add a goalscoring threat. However, with Adam Lallana replacing him on the left, Liverpool lost that danger and Carvajal had an easier night thereafter.
Ronaldo simply did not live up to the pre-match billing this time and this final was Gareth Bale’s with his two goals, the first surely one of the best ever in this competition. The Portuguese was desperate to get in on the act but it was just not his night.
Mane was a shining light for Liverpool, who struggled to recreate a strong opening once Salah had left the field. The Senegal international scored one and came within inches of another, but whatever he tried to do, he was ultimately undermined by some slapdash goalkeeping by Karius at the other end.