Real Madrid secured a record-extending 14th European Cup when they beat Liverpool 1-0 in a Champions League final delayed for more than half an hour after police tried to stop people trying to force their way into the Stade de France on Saturday (May 28).
Vinicius Junior scored just before the hour with Real's first attempt on goal and their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made several fine saves to deny Liverpool, who end the season with two domestic cups having also failed to win the Premier League.
In a battle of European heavyweights, Juergen Klopp's side had more chances but lacked sharpness when it mattered as Carlo Ancelotti became the first coach to enjoy four European Cup triumphs having won the trophy with AC Milan and Real twice, leapfrogging Liverpool's Bob Paisley and Real's Zinedine Zidane.
It was LaLiga title holders Real's fourth Champions League crown in seven years as they improved their impressive record in the competition with their eighth victory in as many finals.
The final was initially set to be played in St Petersburg but European soccer governing body UEFA relocated it to Paris after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a 'special operation'.
The game started after a 35-minute delay following incidents outside the stadium when fans were tear-gassed by riot police as people without tickets tried to force their way in.
Liverpool had won the previous European Cup final both teams had played in Paris, winning 1-0 at the Parc des Princes in 1981, which was Real's last defeat in a final.
Liverpool were the slight favourites on Saturday but Real beat the Merseyside club for the second time in a row in the final after their 3-1 victory in 2018 in Kyiv.
Liverpool started the game by pushing high up the pitch, looking to quickly feed their full backs, and the pressure on the Real back line became immense.
Mo Salah was picked out by Trent Alexander-Arnold in the box but Courtois stretched to deny the Egyptian.
Sadio Mane came much closer when he ghosted past Eder Militao and Casemiro before his fierce attempt was tipped onto the post by the excellent Courtois in the 21st minute.
Liverpool, however, were not incisive enough in attack and Real's only chance of the first half gave Liverpool a huge scare but Karim Benzema's effort was ruled out after the Video Assistant Referee ruled that he was offside, being played in by Federico Valverde despite Fabinho's deflection.
Liverpool were back at it early in the second half but Real soaked up the pressure until they struck in the 59th minute.
It started when Luka Modric turned smartly away from Andy Robertson to create space and ended with Valverde's pinpoint driven pass across to the far post being turned in by Vinicius.
Courtois then dived to superbly tip Salah's curled attempt away to keep Real ahead.
The Belgian keeper was impeccable again to deny Salah 10 minutes from time before his delighted team mates jumped into his arms to show their gratitude at the final whistle.
“It was, so after the game when I saw the stats, it was 50-50 possession."JUERGEN KLOPP LIVERPOOL MANAGER Said.
"So, we had a lot more shots, a lot more shots on target, but the most decisive stat is absolutely on Madrid’s side. Just to make sure that nobody thinks I wouldn’t congratulate Real Madrid, I’d do that now,"
"but I congratulated everybody, president, involved outside personally. So, they scored a goal, we didn’t. That’s the easiest explanation in the world of football and (it’s) hard, harsh to get anyway, but we respect that of course. Yeah, when the goalkeeper is man of the match, then something is wrong, or going wrong for the other team, so we had I think three really big chances where (Thibaut) Courtois made incredible saves. I would have loved to have had a few more of this calibre (of chances).”
“I think Madrid had one shot on target, is that right? And that was a goal. But look" Klopp add.
"I understand 100 per cent and I respect it 100 per cent the reason for playing football and having these kinds of competitions is to win the game, and whatever you do, as long as it’s in the rules, it’s allowed and you can do it. So, it’s completely fine. We had to defend as well in moments really, and just that we blocked the shots or whatever."
"We played a good game, but when you lose 1-0 you have to admit it was then not good enough. I told the boys in the dressing room after we had a bit of time obviously watching the celebrations of Real Madrid and these kinds of things, I told the boys that I’m, I feel the pride already. But I saw as well that I was the only one in the dressing room at that moment, so, the boys need a little bit longer for that, I understand that.”
“These boys played an outstanding season. The two competitions we couldn’t win, we didn’t win for the smallest possible margin. One point, 1-0. So, what does that say? Just that, on the day, or City from the season, they were one point better and tonight Madrid was one goal better. That says nothing about us. The difference between 2018 and now is that I see us coming again. In 2018 I wished it, but I couldn’t know, but these boys are really competitive. They are, have an incredible attitude, it’s a fantastic group and we will go again.”
“What is the key difference between winning and losing? That’s your question? I don’t understand it. They scored, we didn’t. Or what did you, what do you mean? Can you, sorry, can you explain it? Because I don’t understand it. What is the key difference between winning and losing?”
REPORTER: “Like, what did you feel was missing from today to really get the win?”
KLOPP: “That they scored, and we didn’t. That’s now easy to say. We could have played better football but Madrid could have played better football, but they didn’t and they won anyway.”
WHAT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO SIDES ON THE NIGHT WAS
“Apart from the goal they didn’t have a shot on target. That’s a good sign for my team. We had nine shots on target. That’s really a good number, the problem is they scored with one shot, and we didn’t score with nine. That’s the difference between losing and winning.”
THE DELAY TO THE MATCH DUE TO POLICE CLASHES WITH FANS AND WHAT HE KNEW ABOUT IT
“Not a lot and I couldn’t speak to my family yet, but I know the families had real struggles to get into the stadium. But the reasons, I don’t know yet. What I heard, that we will have further investigations to figure out what was going on there. I heard a few things that were not good, not nice. Obviously, it was pretty tricky out there, but I don’t know more about it.”
Published : May 29, 2022
By : Reuters