Champions League Classics: Real Madrid 4-1 Atlético
Wednesday, 3 June 2020
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'La Décima' looked set to elude Real Madrid once again entering added time in the first one-city European Cup final, then they won a throw-in deep into Atlético's half...
Real Madrid's quest for 'La Décima', their tenth European Cup, had become something of a saga. Going into the final, it was 12 years since 'La Novena', with three successive semi-final defeats intensifying the yearning. A 5-0 aggregate demolition of Bayern ended that run, and with the wily Carlo Ancelotti directing and Cristiano Ronaldo as leading man there was plenty of cause for confidence.
So who to cast in the role of opponents? How about city rivals Atlético Madrid, runners-up in 1974? And what if they were under Diego Simeone, a tenacious former player in his first UEFA Champions League season as coach? And what if, heading west to Lisbon, they had just become the first side apart from Madrid or Barcelona to claim the Spanish title since 2004?
Cristiano Ronaldo Even by the Portuguese's stratospheric standards, 2013/14 raised the bar. No other player had ever managed 14 goals in a European Cup campaign; Ronaldo, the dream destroyer, arrived in Lisbon with 16 to his name and sights on joining an elite band who had scored in more than one final having done so for Manchester United in 2008.
Sergio Ramos A dynamic defender who, like Monty Python's Black Knight, never knows when he's beaten. The one-time Sevilla prodigy, with a penchant for key goals, was desperate for international club silverware to add to his two EUROs and World Cup with Spain.
Ángel Di María In a team of attacking superstars the Argentinian tended to go under the radar, but when the going got tough it was invariably the guileful Di María who got Madrid going. Like Ronaldo, the former Benfica winger was at home in Lisbon, too.
Atlético came within seconds of their first European Cup. Despite suffering an early blow when Diego Costa limped off, Simeone's side took a 36th-minute lead as Diego Godín – whose goal had clinched the Liga the previous weekend – headed over the stranded Iker Casillas following a corner.
Their advantage lasted nearly an hour thanks to an incredible rearguard action and some wayward finishing. Then, in the 93rd minute, Madrid won a throw-in and sent everyone forward. Ramos promptly nodded in the equaliser to force extra time. There the Merengues ran away with it, Bale's 110th-minute header, Marcelo and Ronaldo's penalty crowning a memorable fightback.
Sergio Ramos, Madrid defender: "Time was running out but I've always been a very optimistic person and I keep battling until the end, holding onto that last sliver of hope. While it remained possible, while there was still time, I was going to keep trying. I told myself, 'It can’t end like this.'"
Carlo Ancelotti, Madrid coach: "On my first day, when I went to the Santiago Bernabéu trophy room, I said to the president that there was one cup missing and that we should try to get it this season. We've managed to do that."
Diego Simeone, Atlético coach: "In life, and in football, you've got everything one day, then you've got nothing the next – you have to keep going."
Filipe Luís, Atlético defender: "We were so close, we had our hands on the trophy. So to lose it how we did hurts. If Real Madrid had won 3-0, then it wouldn't hurt so much."
AS, Spanish daily: "The Décima had to be special, and it was. It couldn't be just another cup, just another triumph, because the joy at winning it couldn't be comparable."
Journal du Dimanche, French newspaper: "Real were dominant in a crazy game but credit to Atlético too. It's not always the easiest on the eye, but their style is neatly efficient. A week after they pocketed the league title, Simeone's players were two minutes away from a fantastic double."
The teams met again in the following season's UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. Madrid edged that contest too, before the curse of the semi-finals struck them again – however, three straight titles between 2016 and 2018 laid that ghost decisively to rest. And the opposition in the first of those finals? Atleti, of course: this time denied on penalties.