In 2014 Real Madrid met Atlético Madrid in Lisbon in the first final between two clubs from one city. Two years on both made the decider in Milan and on this occasion not even extra time could split them before the Merengues eventually claimed their 11th European Cup on penalties, triumphing 5-3.
The man who equalised late in normal time in 2014, Sergio Ramos, put his team ahead a quarter of an hour in at San Siro, but substitute Yannick Carrasco equalised for Atlético with 11 minutes left. Spot kicks were needed and after seven consecutive successes, Juanfran hit a post and Cristiano Ronaldo converted the winner to make Real Madrid the first five-time UEFA Champions League victors.
Ronaldo had been on form from the start of the competition, getting a hat-trick on matchday one in a 4-0 defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk. He was to manage a record 11 goals in the group stage and was top of the rankings for the fourth year running with 16 overall, just one short of the best he set in 2013/14.
Madrid had the best record in the group stage, managing 16 points under Rafael Benítez and closing with an 8-0 victory over Malmö that equalled the competition's biggest win. By the round of 16, though, Benítez had gone due to disappointing Liga form and been replaced by Zinédine Zidane.
Elsewhere in the group stage, PSV Eindhoven and Wolfsburg finished above Manchester United in a section that went right to the wire. Gent – one of three debutants along with Borussia Mönchengladbach and Kazakhstan's first group entrants Astana – progressed ahead of Valencia and Lyon.
Valencia were one of a record five Spanish sides in the group stage as Sevilla benefitted from a new rule giving entry to the UEFA Europa League holders. Sevilla finished third in their group only to win the UEFA Europa League again.
In the round of 16, Atlético prevailed 8-7 on penalties after two 0-0 draws with PSV. Bayern München had been 2-0 up in their first leg at Juventus only to draw 2-2 and then fall 2-0 behind at home. However, they recovered and after Thomas Müller's late equaliser, Bayern won 4-2 in extra time.
It was Real Madrid who needed a quarter-final comeback as they succumbed 2-0 in their first leg at Wolfsburg. A Ronaldo hat-trick, though, ensured a 3-0 home turnaround. Atlético lost 2-1 at Barcelona but won the return 2-0 and oddly enough Manchester City's victory against Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern's defeat of Benfica were also 3-2 on aggregate.
Both semi-finals were similarly tight, Atlético pipping Bayern on away goals and Real Madrid overcoming City 1-0 thanks to a Fernando own goal. And so to Milan, where, just as in 1974 and 2014, Atlético came within sight of glory only to have it snatched away.
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