Madrid coach Vicente Del Bosque was full of praise for his charges after watching them beat Bayer 04 Leverkusen 2-1 in tonight's UEFA Champions League final in Glasgow.
'Performance was impeccable'
Del Bosque, who became the 13th coach to win the European crown twice, admitted that the German side had pushed Madrid all the way but was delighted with his side's performance and tactics. "Our performance was impeccable and we deserved to win the title," he said. "It was an intense match and our opponents gave their best."
Having seen goals from Raúl González and Zinedine Zidane lift Madrid to their ninth European Champion Clubs' Cup victory, the 51-year-old added: "We showed that we are tactically strong. All three of the goals in the match were great, but Zidane's was a spectacular effort. Leverkusen caused us enormous problems and controlled periods of the match. And of course, they almost equalised in the last few minutes."
'Dedicated to the fans'
Zinedine Zidane, who scored what proved to be the winning goal with a searing left-foot volley on the stroke of half-time, dedicated his side's victory to the Madrid fans after the match. "The important thing is that in the end we won," Zidane said. "We're the champions. It was about all the players, from both teams. I'm very happy and I dedicate this win to the fans."
Third time lucky
It was a case of third time lucky for Zidane, who had tasted defeat in his two previous appearances in the Champions League final. At least he now has his wonder goal to cherish and savour, following defeats with Juventus FC in 1997 and 1998. "This was my third final so it was very important for me to win. After the [FIFA] World Cup, this is the most important victory. Actually, the Champions League is equally important to me."
Raúl González, the highest scorer in the ten-year history of the Champions League with 34 goals in 66 matches, opened the scoring at Hampden Park and was delighted to get his hands on the trophy for the third time in five years. "This is something great that we've achieved," the 24-year-old said. "This is the third European Cup win in five years and it's a tribute to all the hard work done by the squad."
Leverkusen coach Klaus Toppmöller was gracious in defeat and revealed his admiration for his players after what has been a rollercoaster ride for the German club this season. "I am very proud of the way we played," he said. "We were more physically committed than Madrid but football can be a cruel game."
'Prepared to fight'
"If you had offered us second place in the competition at the start of the season, I would have said you were mad," he added. "We were always prepared to fight and we did that to the end. The defeat in the German championship was the hardest loss to take because we had such high hopes."
'Not our day'
Forward Dmitar Berbatov was equally disappointed after the match, and said: "We are very disappointed to lose. It was very bad luck for us that Madrid scored their second goal right on the stroke of half-time. In injury time at the end of the match we had three clear chances to score an equalising goal but it was not our day."
This was the last chance for both clubs to win honours this season, after they had failed to win their domestic league titles and had lost their domestic cup finals. Something had to give and the cards fell in the Spaniards' favour as they edged a finely balanced encounter to send their travelling fans wild with delight.
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