Clinical Real Madrid beat Liverpool to claim 14th Champions League title

Reuters | | Updated on: May 29, 2022

Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior in action with Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah at the Champions league final at Stade de France, Saint-Denis near Paris, France

Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior in action with Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah at the Champions league final at Stade de France, Saint-Denis near Paris, France | Photo Credit: Reuters

Real edge Liverpool 1-0 in final with Vinicius Junior goal

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.

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.

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’s run

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 teammates jumped into his arms to show their gratitude at the final whistle.

Ancelotti’s calm & winning culture delivers for Real again

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti celebrates with Luka Modric after winning the Champions League

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti celebrates with Luka Modric after winning the Champions League | Photo Credit: Reuters

A ‘winning culture’ may be one of the most over used terms in modern football but Real Madrid and Carlo Ancelotti proved on Saturday, at Liverpool’s expense, that there truly is meaning and value in the concept.

With the 1-0 win over Juergen Klopp’s side, Ancelotti became the first coach to claim the Champions League four times, with his second victory as Real boss coming after two triumphs with AC Milan.

As for the Spanish champions, this was the 14th time they have won Europe’s elite club competition -- twice as many as the next most successful team Milan.

That pedigree, on the bench and on the field, has created a calm confidence that has seen them come through the toughest tests in this year’s competition.

To reach the final, Real came through a knockout stage which first saw them up against a Paris St Germain side with Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe -- they came back from 2-0 down on aggregate to progress thanks to a Karim Benzema hat-trick.

Defending champions Chelsea were next, beaten in extra time thanks to another Benzema goal before the Frenchman then got the decisive goal in the remarkable late comeback to beat Premier League champions Manchester City in the semi-final.

There was no such drama at the Stade de France on Saturday where, after surviving some early Liverpool dominance and suffering the setback of a disallowed Benzema goal, Real took a grip on the game after halftime, got their goal and then, with help from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, defended their lead.

Ancelotti’s success has been founded on strong and trusting relationships with his senior players -- from the days when Paolo Maldini organised his Milan defence to the current faith he shows in Benzema and Luka Modric to get Real over the line.

The understated confidence was evident from the moment Real entered the ground in sharp suits and ties, as though they knew they were attending an awards ceremony.

In marked contrast, Liverpool’s players got off their bus in t-shirts and tracksuits and it was not the only clash of cultures in the build-up to the game.

While Klopp boasted about his team being “mentality monsters” and never struggled to find superlatives to describe his players, Ancelotti, true to form, was much more understated.

Restrained Ancelotti

The Italian adopts the same approach on the touchline -- rarely showing emotion, trusting his players to follow his gameplan without the need for arm-waving and shouting.

But that restrained demeanour, disguises a too-often underrated tactical astuteness from the Real coach.

Ancelotti’s side defended deep, an approach which forced Liverpool to choose between pushing on and risking leaving space for Real’s deadly counter-attacks or sitting in space themselves and playing a slower passing game.

Klopp’s players adopted the latter approach and that meant they were forced to play at a slower tempo and with little of the aggressive, fast attacks down the flanks that has been their hallmark under the German.

With the ball Real were patient but they, and particularly Modric, frequently looked to play the ball over the back of Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, an approach which created some of their better moments.

After the break, Real stepped up their tempo with the ball, imposing themselves in midfield and Liverpool struggled to move into a higher gear, until a late spell of pressure in their desperate search for an equaliser.

Although Courtois was forced into action on several occasions, there was never a hint of panic in the way Real defended, their self-belief and confidence in their abilities seeing them through to the final whistle.

It was the performance of a Real team which knows how to win in the biggest games, something which Klopp’s side for all their qualities - and despite one Premier League title and one Champions League triumph -- have yet to truly learn.

In their six games against top four opponents in the Premier League this past season, Liverpool failed to win, drawing them all. In the two domestic Cup finals they won against Chelsea, they failed to score, claiming the trophies after shootouts.

Liverpool are talked about, along with Manchester City, as one of the two best teams in the world. Yet it is Real, seen by many at the start of the season as an ageing, fading force, who finished with a rare LaLiga and Champions League double.

While Klopp creates the excitement and the viral video moments, it is Ancelotti who heads into the Paris night with the quiet satisfaction of having become the most successful manager the Champions League has ever seen. 

Courtois feels he will get respect he deserves after Champions League win

Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois saves a shot from Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah

Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois saves a shot from Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah | Photo Credit: Reuters

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois feels he will finally get the respect he deserves after his man-of-the-match performance helped the LaLiga champions claim a record-extending 14th European Cup triumph on Saturday.

Real beat Liverpool 1-0 in the Champions League final courtesy of a Vinicius Junior goal but the Belgian’s saves made the difference at the Stade de France.

“I needed to win a final for my career, to put some respect on my name,” Courtois said after making a staggering nine saves.

“I’m really happy and proud of the performance of the team. We’ve beaten the best clubs in the world. (Manchester) City and Liverpool were unbelievable this season. Liverpool played a great game but we had one chance and we scored it.”

Courtois, Chelsea’s keeper from 2011-18, said the first of his saves, when he denied Mo Salah early on, gave him the confidence he needed for the rest of the game.

“It’s incredible, so many years, so much work. Come to the club of my life. I saw many criticising me. Today we have shown who is the King of Europe,” he said.

“I felt good the last few weeks. Once you make the first stop. Nobody could take away my desire to win the Champions League.”

There was only one downside for Courtois - he missed his brother’s wedding but promised to make up for his absence.

“I feel sorry for my brother, who is getting married tomorrow and I can’t be there,” he said. “On Monday there is another civil marriage and I will be there.”

Liverpool should have got more from final but we'll be back says Klopp

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp acknowledges fans as he collects his runners up medal after the match

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp acknowledges fans as he collects his runners up medal after the match | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Liverpool deserved more from their losing Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday after dominating the match but they will be back to challenge again for Europe’s elite club trophy, coach Juergen Klopp said.

Real claimed a record-extending 14th European Cup with their 1-0 win over Liverpool after Vinicius Junior scored just before the hour with the Spanish champions’ only attempt on target.

It was Real’s fourth Champions League title in seven years as they improved their impressive record in the competition with their eighth victory in as many finals.

“We had more shots on target but the most decisive stat is on Madrid’s side,” Klopp told a news conference. “They scored a goal and we didn’t. That’s the easiest explanation in the world of football. Hard and harsh.

“When the goalkeeper (Thibaut Corutois) is man of the match then something has gone wrong for the other team.

“We could have played better football and they could have but they didn’t. The stats are 50-50 but, apart from the goal, they did not have a shot on target.”

Courtois made a string of superb saves that protected Real’s lead from the 59th minute, with Liverpool having 23 goal attempts to Real’s three.

“We saw we did a lot of good things but it was not enough,” Klopp, who has guided Liverpool to three Champions League finals and one victory in 2019.

The Merseyside club, who a few weeks ago were aiming for a quadruple, end the season having won both domestic cups but missing out on the Premier League and Champions League.

“Madrid had one shot on target and it was a goal,” said the German coach. “We played a good game but when you lose 1-0 it was not good enough. I told the boys in the changing room I feel the pride already.

“These boys played an outstanding season and the two competitions we couldn’t win we didn’t win for the smallest possible margin.”

Liverpool missed out on the Premier League after finishing a point behind champions Manchester City.

“The boys will realise how special it was what they did (this season),” he added.

“It’s obviously a different kind of success, not the success you want to have, but I have the strong feeling we come again.

“The boys are really competitive, we have an outstanding group together, we will again have an outstanding group together and then we go again.

“Obviously we have to try a bit more often than others, but no problem. Where is it next year? Istanbul. Book the hotel!” 

Disallowed goal got Real into winning groove, says Benzema

Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema celebrates after winning the Champions League

Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema celebrates after winning the Champions League | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Karim Benzema said his disallowed first-half goal spurred Real Madrid into beating Liverpool 1-0 in Saturday’s Champions League final for a record-extending 14th European Cup title.

The France forward, one of the favourites to win the Ballon d’Or - soccer’s most prestigious individual award - found the back of the net on the stroke of halftime, only for his goal to be ruled out for offside after a lengthy VAR review.

It was Real’s first clear chance after they had been put on the back foot by Liverpool and it got them into their groove.

They then scored with their first legal attempt on goal when Vinicius Jr tapped in Federico Valverde’s cross in the 59th minute.

“A final is always complicated. It’s mental work. We are (Spanish) league champions and we didn’t have rhythm, but we scored the offside goal and it got us into the game. In the second half we did as always, won a final,” Benzema, the campaign’s top scorer with 15 goals, said.

He is only the second French player to lift the Champions League trophy as captain after Didier Deschamps with Olympique de Marseille in 1993 and that puts him in pole position to win the Ballon d’Or to be awarded in October.

He knows, however, that the matter is not in his hands any more as the season draws to a close.

“Let’s see what happens. I have trophies and I have nothing else (to prove) on the pitch. The important thing is to enjoy,” he said.

Benzema’s hat-trick in the quarter-final, first leg at Chelsea and his extra-time goal in the return plus his three goals against Manchester City in the semis, including the decisive extra-time penalty, could see him become the first Frenchman to win the Ballon d’Or since Zinedine Zidane in 1998. 

Published on May 29, 2022
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