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UCL Final – Madrid set legendary record in Champions League
- Updated: May 28, 2018
The Santiago Bernabeu is the place where every club football fan would wish their allegiance was in recent times with regards to dominating European club football.
The night in Kiev was one where an unprecedented feat was achieved by Los Blancos yet again as they rode on to win the UCL for three successive seasons.
Real Madrid is no doubt the biggest club in European football, after racking up an impressive thirteen UEFA Champions League titles with a 3:1 victory over Liverpool at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev on May 26, 2018.
This was one UCL competition where fortune favored Los Blancos on numerous occasions as tough opponents conspired to falter against Zinedine Zidane’s men, a development that no Madrid faithful would really care about unless it worked against them.
However, the same can’t be said for their rivals. Regardless, Madrid showed quality and displayed an art of navigating tough UCL games with relative ease.
The finals in Kiev kicked off amid the mass euphoria as both sides lined up with their available best men for the tie. Zidane relied on the front trio of Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Isco orchestrating behind them, as against the wide speculation that Welshman Gareth Bale would be handed a start.
Jurgen Klopp who had been talking tough lined up with his favorite front three of Firmino, Salah, and Mane in the attack. All was set for a cracking encounter before the whistle went off.
The game appeared even in the opening exchanges as both sides sought to outdo each other. However, the defining moment of the game came towards the 6th minute after Liverpool’s talisman Mohammed Salah was substituted after sustaining a shoulder injury through a tackle from the Bernabeu’s present captain of captains, Sergio Ramos after he appeared to wrestle the Egyptian to the ground whilst holding his arm.
This incident didn’t go down well with rivals who claimed that it was a deliberate attempt by Ramos to ensure that Liverpool’s danger man was canceled out as an option from the list of threats that would stand against Los Blancos’ quest for a third consecutive UEFA Champions League triumph.
However, Real Madrid were also not meant to complete the game with all their key players as Dani Carvajal was also subbed off in the 35th minute after sustaining an injury. However, Liverpool lost some initiative in attack after Salah’s substitution, as this was obviously a situation they never envisaged.
Madrid finished the half strongly, and also returned stronger in the second half before fortune struck. Bayern’s goalkeeper Sven Ulreich can attest to this.
He suffered a similar fate in the hands of the same player, but this time, Liverpool goalie Karius, another German, was the unwilling villain for the Anfield outfit. He gifted Benzema the opener in the 51st minute with impatient play after sending a throw that was blocked by an onrushing Benzema and directed towards the net.
What a howler by the German! A very big mistake in undoubtedly, the biggest night of his career.
Liverpool would then equalize 4 minutes later in the 55th minute through Sadio Mane and afford Karius the chance to heave a sigh of relief, although he would produce another bottler later.
The game sparked to life from then and Karius was called into action to deny Isco a second for Madrid in the 60th minute. The best moment of the game was yet to come, as Zidane’s eventual tactical masterstroke came off in the 61st minute.
He took Isco off for Welshman Gareth Bale who would then come on to paint the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in his colors.
Zidane’s tactical masterstroke paid off in the 64th minute after Gareth Bale, with his back to goal and being escorted by a poorly aware Virgil Van Dijk pulled off an unexpected bicycle kick from a Marcelo cross which gave Karius no chance and sent the Los Blancos faithful bonkers.
What a goal! Very much similar to Ronaldo’s attempt against Juventus in Turin, but much more needed on a night where they could make further history.
The goal deflated the Liverpool side, who already appeared far less dangerous in attack without key man Mohammed Salah. Who would come to their rescue and equalize a second time?
Mane almost produced the goods again in the 71st minute but saw his shot crash against the bar. Nearly wasn’t going to be enough as only the ball in the back of the net would give them a chance. Well, there was Karius who would ensure that any such opportunities would count for nothing eventually.
Karius turned from hero to villain, first pulling off a save as a hero in the 82nd minute from the boot of Benzema, before committing another schoolboy howler as a villain which saw a long-range harmless shot from Gareth Bale towards the middle of the goal being miscued by him. It was game set and match at that point.
Liverpool may have succeeded in keeping Ronaldo quiet in the game, but they couldn’t prevent Real Madrid’s legendary status in Europe’s elite club competition from peaking further.
The 3rd from Bale killed off any major hopes for Jurgen Klopp’s men as he painfully continued his run of losing in finals. Real Madrid were confirmed as champions after the final whistle went off.
A truly remarkable feat for the club. A major feat by Zidane, few years into his managerial career, and the club will now look forward to what the future holds in the nearest future.