Real Madrid CF's 12-year quest for a tenth European title ended in some style as they finally quelled Club Atlético de Madrid's remarkable challenge in extra time of a dramatic final in Lisbon.
Atlético looked set to add the UEFA Champions League to their Liga title win thanks to Diego Godín's 36th-minute header at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, but three minutes into added time Sergio Ramos nodded an equaliser. Once Gareth Bale had put Madrid in front in the 110th minute, Carlo Ancelotti's team ran away with it, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo adding further goals, the latter's penalty his 17th goal of the season – a new record.
In a group stage drenched with goals, Ronaldo opened with a hat-trick at Galatasaray AŞ and went on to register nine times before Christmas – also a new best. Zlatan Ibrahimović managed eight goals, including four at RSC Anderlecht, equalling the previous group stage best of Ruud van Nistelrooy (2004/05), Hernán Crespo and Filippo Inzaghi (both 2002/03). Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain therefore coasted into the round of 16 as the winners of Group B and C respectively.
Some big names did fall, however, including Juventus whose matchday six defeat at Galatasaray meant the Turkish side finished second to Madrid. SL Benfica also ended third, behind Paris and Olympiacos FC, while SSC Napoli lost out to 2013 runners-up Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal FC in Group F. Group H was the only section to feature four former European champions, FC Barcelona and AC Milan proving too strong for AFC Ajax and Celtic FC, while holders FC Bayern München extended their record winning run to ten games and topped Group D despite a concluding home defeat by Manchester City FC.
City, in the knockout stages for the first time, lost 4-1 on aggregate to Barcelona in the last 16, where there were also sizeable victories for Madrid (9-2 v FC Schalke 04) and Paris (6-1 v Bayer 04 Leverkusen). Atlético were one of three teams to come through the group phase unbeaten and continued their impressive form by eliminating Milan thanks largely to a 4-1 second-leg win; the past season's finalists, Bayern and Dortmund, were too strong for Arsenal and FC Zenit respectively while there was a famous comeback at Old Trafford as Manchester United FC overturned a 2-0 first-leg loss at Olympiacos courtesy of Robin van Persie's hat-trick.
Chelsea FC did likewise in the quarter-finals, prevailing on away goals against Paris after a 3-3 aggregate draw, while Madrid survived an almighty scare against the side who had curtailed their 2012/13 campaign. They looked to be coasting into the semi-finals with a 3-0 home success over Dortmund; instead, two goals in the first half in Germany had them hanging on, though Madrid held out. Bayern saw off United, while Barcelona's record sequence of six successive semis was ended by Atlético, 2-1 victors over two legs.
A goalless first leg between Atlético and Chelsea set the stage for an exhilarating Stamford Bridge denouement, which was heading in Chelsea's favour when former Atlético hero Fernando Torres finally broke the deadlock. Adrián López swiftly levelled, however, and second-half goals from Diego Costa and Arda Turan took Atlético into a first final in 40 years.
It was altogether more straightforward for Madrid, 1-0 winners at home to Bayern before a 4-0 triumph in Munich – Ronaldo netting twice more – took them into their 13th final after three straight semi-final defeats. The final glory would be theirs, Ancelotti becoming the second coach to land three European Cups as Madrid made it a perfect ten.
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