Substitute Gareth Bale scored a stunning overhead kick and a long-range second as Real Madrid claimed their third straight Champions League title, but Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat owed just as much to two howling errors from goalkeeper Loris Karius.
The Reds suffered a dramatic blow when star man Mohamed Salah was forced off with a shoulder injury inside half an hour and then went behind as Karius had his pocket picked by Karim Benzema in embarrassing fashion.
Sadio Mane rifled home an equaliser from close range but Bale’s unforgettable, acrobatic finish restored the lead before Karius threw in a swerving long-range effort from the Welshman.
Karius shouting at absolutely everyone to avoid the absolute sick feeling in his guts.— AS English (@English_AS) May 26, 2018
Gareth Bale. Began the day a brooding figure having been left out of the starting XI in favour of Benzema and was seemingly absent for much of the warm-up. But once he was given his chance with just over half an hour left he grabbed the spotlight. He had been on the field less than three minutes when he flung himself in the air and summoned a goal for the ages. He then had the bravado to chance his arm from unlikely distance and cashed in on Karius’ fragile confidence. Suitors be warned, Bale is not for sale.
6 - Jurgen Klopp has now lost six of his seven major finals as manager (2 x DFB-Pokal, 2 x Champions League, 1 x League Cup, 1 x UEFA Europa League), only winning the DFB-Pokal with Borussia Dortmund in 2012. Glum. #UCLfinal #RMALFC pic.twitter.com/i1jBzfzxx1— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 26, 2018
Defeat for Liverpool took manager Jurgen Klopp’s losing streak in finals to six in a row. The German lost the Europa League and League Cup with Liverpool in 2016 having lost two German Cups and a Champions League during his time at Borussia Dortmund. He has tasted success once, though, beating Bayern Munich 5-2 in the German Cup back in 2012.
Real Madrid broke new ground in Europe’s top competition by naming an identical starting XI to the one which won the 2017 Champions League final against Juventus last year. Five of Zinedine Zidane’s seven substitutes were even the same. Theo Hernandez and Lucas Vazquez were the new arrivals, taking the slots of departed duo Alvaro Morata and Danilo.
Loris Karius 2, Trent Alexander-Arnold 6, Dejan Lovren 7, Virgil van Dijk 6, Andrew Robertson 8, James Milner 6, Jordan Henderson 6, Georginio Wijnaldum 6, Sadio Mane 8, Mohamed Salah 6, Roberto Firmino 7, : Substitutes: Adam Lallana (for Salah) 5, Emre Can (for Milner) 5.
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas 7, Dani Carvajal 6, Sergio Ramos 7, Raphael Varane 7, Marcelo 8, Casemiro 7, Luka Modric 7, Toni Kroos 7, Isco 5, Karim Benzema 8, Cristiano Ronaldo 6. Substitutes: Nacho (for Carvajal) 6, Gareth Bale (for Isco) 9, Marco Asensio (for Benzema) 5.