Real Madrid beat Liverpool to claim 14th Champions League title

PARIS – Real Madrid secured a recordextending

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.

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. “I am a record man. I had

luck to come here last year and

have a fantastic season. A fantastic

club, a really good squad with

a lot of quality and mental character,”

said Ancelotti of a team who

came from behind against Paris

St Germain, Chelsea and Manchester

City to reach the final.

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.

Liverpool were looking for their

seventh European Cup triumph

but despite their best efforts they

were left in awe of Courtois’s sublime

performance.

“In the dressing room nobody

feels it was a great season at this

moment,” said Liverpool manager

Juergen Klopp, whose team

beat Chelsea on penalties in the

FA Cup and League Cup. “We

played a good game, not a perfect

game, but I don’t think a perfect

game would have been possible

the way the opponent was set up

with a deep formation. “We had

a lot of shots but not the clearest

and Thibaut Courtois made

two top saves.” The final was 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 after

their 3-1 victory in 2018. 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.

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