Real Madrid completed their third straight UEFA Champions League triumph with a 3-1 defeat of Liverpool in Kyiv.
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Gareth Bale scored twice off the bench as Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in Kyiv to become European champions for the 13th time.
Bale's first was an 'I-was-there' goal, one to rival Zinédine Zidane, Mario Mandžukić and any other you care to name as the best in final history. Marcelo's cross from the left looked harmless enough, but the Welshman, just inside the penalty area, somehow contorted his body to hook the ball over his head with enough power that it fizzed past Loris Karius.
Quite the contrast to Madrid's opener on 51 minutes, when Karius attempted to roll the ball out to a team-mate only for Benzema to stick out a hopeful leg which turned out to be a goalscoring interception.
Isco had been denied by the crossbar shortly prior to that, but Liverpool – creaking ever since the talismanic Mohamed Salah had been forced off with a shoulder problem in the first half – were quick to dust themselves down after going behind. Indeed they were level just four minutes later, Dejan Lovren's towering header from a corner poked in by Sadio Mané at the back post.
That was as good as it got for the Reds, though, Bale almost single-handedly turning the tide back in Madrid's direction after coming on just past the hour. He struck his second with seven minutes left, a long-range shot that somehow squirted through Karius's palms, and – after Mané had struck a post at the other end – almost added a third when clean through moments later. Madrid and Zidane had already wrapped up their very own hat-tricks by then, though.
What an impact. He only got 13 minutes as a substitute in Cardiff last year, but had a far more telling role to play during his half-hour this time round. That first goal really was one for the ages. Peter Rudbæk, speaking on behalf of the UEFA technical observers, said: "The observers chose Bale due to his game-changing display off the bench and his outstanding acrobatic goal to put his team ahead."
Joe Walker, Real Madrid (@UEFAcomJoeW)
There's a saying in Spain: 'El Madrid es el Madrid'. They are Madrid and they just get things done, no matter the situation. Tonight they were the better team and were able to take full advantage of the chances that came their way. Three in a row, Zidane absolutely got it spot on, and you wouldn't bet against a fourth next year either.
Matt Howarth, Liverpool (@UEFAcomMattH)
Klopp's troops burst out of the traps and forced Navas into several good saves, but Salah's early departure proved to be the turning point. Liverpool players were inconsolable at full time, needless to say, but once the pain of defeat subsides they can look back with immense pride at their achievements in the competition this term.
Zinédine Zidane, Real Madrid coach
Our achievement tonight is the most important thing – we have to congratulate the players because it's not at all easy to do this. There are no words to describe this. The amazing thing about this squad is that they don't have a ceiling. They are hungry for more and they've demonstrated that today.
Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool manager
Congratulations to Real Madrid. [Salah's departure] was a big moment in the game. It was unlucky that he fell on his shoulder and it's a serious injury. We'll never know what would have happened if he'd played on. The shock was obvious and we dropped too deep. [Bale] was very decisive – the bicycle kick was an unbelievable goal.
- Madrid are the first team to win three in a row since Bayern in the 1970s
- Zidane is the first coach to win the competition three seasons running
- Ronaldo is the first player to win five UEFA Champions League titles
- Bale is the seventh player to score twice in a UEFA Champions League final
- He is the first to find the net twice after coming on as a substitute