Real Madrid won their 14th Champions League title

Real Madrid won their 14th Champions League title

Real Madrid won their 14th Champions League title
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Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 in the Champions League final at the Stade de France in Paris to earn a record-extending 14th title. Vinicius Junior scored the game-winning goal. In the 59th minute, the Brazilian forward headed in a Fede Valverde cross from close range to put Los Blancos ahead, and Thibaut Courtois ensured Jurgen Klopp’s side never recovered, denying multiple Liverpool opportunities on goal throughout the game.

Liverpool had a disappointing finale to a successful season in which they had played every match they could. They won both domestic Cups (the League Cup and the FA Cup) and finished an agonizing one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League.

Liverpool had more than 20 shots on goal, nine of which were on target, but they couldn’t convert them because Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was outstanding on the night.

Real Madrid on the other hand won La Liga on a canter and added yet another European crown to their cabinet. It was a season that saw Real Madrid see off stiff challenges in all the knock-out rounds of the Champions League. It started with a come from behind win over Paris St Germain in the round of 16, followed by a last gasp second-leg winner, on aggregate, against Chelsea in the quarter-final. The script remained unchanged, and in fact became even more dramatic, as the Los Blancos scored two extremely late goals to see off Manchester City in the semi-final to reach the summit clash.

Liverpool began the game with a high-pressing style that almost caught Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois off guard as early as the third minute, forcing the Belgian to make a hasty clearance.

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With Benzema and Vinicius Jr pressing hard, Madrid attempted to match fire with fire. Liverpool, on the other hand, were the first to get into a rhythm, with Jordan Henderson, Thiago, and Fabinho settling into a passing game.

Liverpool kept probing and made several forays into the Madrid box in the first 15 minutes, but didn’t manage to threaten Courtois’ goal.

Madrid as expected were sitting deep and looking to break on the counter attack, depending on the rampaging pace of Vinicius and Benzema.

And it was the Reds who got the first sight of goal in the 16th minute as Alexander Arnold’s square ball from inside the Madrid box found its way past the defenders to reach Muhammad Salah, whose weak shot managed to test Courtois, who dived to his left to make an important save.

This was followed by two back-to-back shots on goal from Thiago and Mohammad Salah, but both shots were saved easily by the Madrid custodian.

Liverpool almost took the lead in the 21st minute as Sadio Mane unleashed a vicious right footer, only for Courtois to deflect the ball onto the goalpost with his outstretched right arm. The Belgian then collected the ball which fell out of reach of all the other players.

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Madrid almost had Vinicius running on goal in the 30th minute as Toni kros sent in a defence-splitting pass with the  Brazilian on the overlap, only for Alexander-Arnold to put in a timely interception to put an end to the move.

Salah had the best chance of the half as Alexander-Arnold found him inside the Madrid box with a perfect cross from the right, but the Egyptian’s header was straight at Courtois.

Vinicius Jr had a chance in the 36th minute as he dribbled past a few Liverpool defenders inside the box, but Henderson was around to kick the ball out for a corner before the Brazilian could shoot.

But it was Real Madrid who had the ball in the net first, as Benzema scored from close range as Liverpool’s defence crumbled. The goal was ruled out by the lengthy VAR review, and the score remained 0-0 at halftime. That move, on the other hand, only hinted at how dangerous Madrid could be if Benzema was allowed to play in front of goal.

Los Blancos started the second half strongly, passing the ball more effectively and putting the ball in the hands of the midfield. But Liverpool’s pressing game soon had them struggling, and Alexander-Arnold was the man who forced Courtois to fight hard to keep a dangerous cross out.

And it was Real Madrid who made Liverpool pay for their missed chances as Vinicius Jr scored in the 59th minute. An out of position Andy Robertson allowed Fede Valverde to run down the right flank and he put in a measured pass into the box, which Alexander-Arnold failed to cut off at the far post, and that allowed Vinicius to get an easy tap-in to give the Spanish giants the lead.

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Courtois was called into action again in the 64th minute as Salah produced a bit of individual magic, coming in on the inside and unleashing a menacing left-footer, only for the Belgian keeper’s outstretched right hand to make the save.

After the goal, Liverpool piled on the pressure in an attempt to get an equaliser. This freed up space in the back, and Vinicius attempted to break the counter on several occasions.

Although Alexander-Arnold was at the centre of most of Liverpool’s attacks, Real Madrid’s players displayed remarkable technical skill to keep the game’s tempo down.

Casemiro was directly in front of goal at the end of a looping free-kick and had a fantastic chance to extend Madrid’s lead, but his first touch let him down.

In the 80th minute, Liverpool came near again when a deflection off Diogo Jota went on goal, but Courtois was on hand to turn it over for a corner.

Mo Salah came agonisingly close to scoring in the 82nd minute with a close-range attempt after being expertly fed on the right wing with a looping pass. Courtois, on the other hand, made yet another outstanding save.

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For the rest of the game, Madrid defended valiantly and closed it out to pull off a miraculous victory in a season when many thought they were out of contention on multiple occasions.

Courtois became the first goalkeeper in Champions League final history to make nine saves.

 

 

 

 

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