Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool: Gareth Bale masterclass secures third successive Champions League crown

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Gareth Bale netted a double after coming off the bench to secure Real Madrid a 3-1 victory over Liverpool in the Champions League final on Saturday night.

Loris Karius gifted Karim Benzema the opening goal only minutes after half-time. Sadio Mané equalised for the Reds before the Welshman netted an unbelievable overhead kick to snatch the lead. He doubled his night’s work as Karius failed to deal with a dipping effort from just outside the area as Real secured their 13th European Cup and their third in a row.

Cracking start from Klopp’s men

Liverpool threatened the reigning champions straight from the off. Roberto Firmino was particularly lively in the opening stages and almost picked out Mané with a great cross but Raphaël Varane was alert to the move and managed to clear.

The Reds’ number nine almost played a key role in the opener as his header in the Real box deflected off of Sergio Ramos and into the path of Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Spaniard was positioned well, though, to thwart the young defender before he lashed the ball towards goal.

As to be expected, Madrid did threaten and it was main man Cristiano Ronaldo who was the catalyst. His spectacular run manufactured space on the right-side before he unleashed a powerful effort. The ball drifted over the bar.

Injury blow for Mo

Liverpool continued to carve out opportunities throughout the first period with Keylor Navas having to be at his best to keep the scores level. Firstly, Firmino controlled James Milner’s cross and looked to finish only to be charged down by Ramos. The ball then fell to Alexander-Arnold again but the stopper held comfortably from his low effort.

Jurgen Klopp’s men were hampered hugely mid-way through the first-half. Following a heavy challenge with Ramos, Mo Salah went down clutching his shoulder. After failing to continue, the distraught Egyptian was withdrawn for Adam Lallana as Liverpool lost their key man.

Zinedine Zidane was also subjected to injury worries as Dani Carvajal, in floods of tears, also had to be substituted through injury.

Sigh of relief for the Reds

Liverpool felt quite fortunate heading into half-time as a goal for the Spaniards was chalked out for offside. First, Ronaldo connected brilliantly with Isco’s cross but Loris Karius reacted brilliantly to paw the Portuguese’s header away. The deflection then found its way to Karim Benzema who finished into the empty net but the linesman’s flag was correctly aloft.

The Frenchman continued to be a threat until the break as his excellent pass found Nacho at the far post. The defender aimed a thunderous effort towards goal but the ball crashed into the side netting. Benzema then sent a low shot fizzing just wide from outside the area.

As a result, both sides went into the break all-square.

Karius blunder costs Liverpool

The Reds got even luckier after half-time. Alexander-Arnold’s sloppy pass saw Isco run free in the box. One-on-one with Karius, he attempted to lift the ball over the stopper but only managed to strike the crossbar.

The German keeper’s good fortune deserted him only minutes later as Real snatched the lead. He tried to roll the ball out but Benzema was alert and got his foot to it. The ball then just trundled into the net to the dismay of Karius and the Reds’ supporters alike.

Mané pounces to level but Bale stunner regains the lead

The Reds did not have to wait much longer to level. From a corner, Dejan Lovren nodded down with Mané prodding home just yards from Navas’ goal and sending the Liverpool supporters into raptures.

Despite the equaliser, Real continued to be the better side. First, Karius leapt well to deny Isco, before Bale, who had replaced the Spaniard, struck a stunning overhead kick to regain the advantage. Having only been on for two minutes, the former Tottenham man hung in the air just long enough to thunder Marcelo’s cross beyond Karius.

Karius costs Liverpool as Real secure victory

Chances came and went during the closing 20 minutes. Mané continued to be a thorn in Madrid’s side but could only send a low shot against the post.

Ronaldo also showed great pace to get beyond the Liverpool defence and looked sure to fire home, only to be thwarted by an excellent recovery challenge from Andrew Robertson. Bale continued to be decisive with his excellent ball finding Benzema. The forward tested Karius with a first-time effort which the stopper deflected away.

The German was to blame as Real all-but secured their victory with another from Bale. The Welshman shot speculatively from distance and the shot looked to be a comfortable catch for Karius. The ball ricocheted off of his palms and nestled into the back if the net as Real secured their third-successive Champions League victory.

Final Thoughts

In essence, a huge comparison in emotions in Kiev. Whilst Liverpool battled ferociously, the experience in the Madrid side was enough to see them over the line, and secure their momentous victory. The attacking prowess was clear for all to see on both sides, but Bale’s sheer world-class genius really was telling.

Whilst the Reds’ will be disappointed in Karius’ mistakes, their team did put up a brave fight. Real Madrid, meanwhile, will celebrate their victory long into the night.

There is not doubt that Klopp’s men missed Salah but Real Madrid deserved to lift the trophy.

Match Report

Real Madrid: Navas (7); Marcelo (6), Ramos (7), Varane (7), Carvajal (6) (Nacho (6), 37′); Casemiro (6), Kroos (7), Modrić (7); Isco (6) (Bale (9), 61′), Benzema (7) (Asensio (N/A) 89′), Ronaldo (7).

Liverpool: Karius (4); Robertson (7), van Dijk (7), Lovren (7), Alexander-Arnold (7); Wijnaldum (7), Henderson (6), Milner (7) (Can (N/A), 83′); Salah (6) (Lallana (6), 31′), Firmino (7), Mané (8).

Goals: Benzema (50′), Mané  (55′), Bale (63′, 84′)

Referee: Milorad Mazic

Yellow Cards: Mané (82′)

Red Cards: N/A

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Orme


Daniel is currently a second-year football journalism student at the University of Derby. He has been freelance writing for approximately four years now and brings considerable experience. A season ticket holder at local club Leicester City, he witnessed the Foxes miraculously lifting the Premier League trophy in the 2015/16 campaign.

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