Bale, Larsson, Kluivert: the Champions League final super subs

After Gareth Bale's Kyiv feats we celebrate six of the best final substitutes – watch their key moments in our video.

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2018 Gareth Bale (Real Madrid v Liverpool)
Reports before the Kyiv final were that Bale, who had only started three UEFA Champions League games all season, would get the nod alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in the Madrid attack. Instead Zinédine Zidane went with the same XI that had started the 2017 final, leaving the Wales forward once again on the bench.

However, with the score at 1-1 just past the hour, Zidane gave Bale a go. Just 122 seconds later Bale was in the air scoring with an incredible overhead volley that many think eclipsed even the 2002 Madrid final winner claimed by his now-coach. With seven minutes to go Bale struck again from distance, the first time in any UEFA club final that a substitute had got more than one goal.

2006 Henrik Larsson (Barcelona v Arsenal)
A substitute doesn't have to score to have a decisive impact on a final, however. Larsson, who had already announced that he would leave Barcelona after the 2006 final in Paris, was brought on in the same minute that Bale was introduced 12 years later – the 61st – with ten-man Arsenal 1-0 up.

His impact was not as immediate as Bale's but with 14 minutes left the Swede produced a clever lay-off that sent Samuel Eto'o through to equalise. Four minutes later Larsson combined with Juliano Belletti as the Brazilian became the unlikely match winner. An impressed Thierry Henry said: "You talk about Ronaldinho and Eto'o and people like that; you need to talk about the proper footballer who made the difference, and that was Henrik Larsson."

2002 Iker Casillas (Real Madrid v Bayer Leverkusen)
This wasn't a game-changing introduction like those on the list, or in the video above, yet it perhaps had the most long-term significance of all. Zidane had already scored his goal and Madrid led 2-1 when goalkeeper César Sánchez was injured in the 67th minute and replaced by Casillas.

The 21-year-old Casillas had started the 2000 final win against Valencia before finding himself dropped during a shaky 2001/02 season in favour of Sánchez. But given his chance in Glasgow, Casillas pulled off some crucial saves to ensure Madrid's victory and was promptly re-established as first choice for more than a decade, eventually becoming the man with more UEFA club competition appearances than anyone else.

1999 Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær (Manchester United v Bayern München)
Sheringham, like Casillas, came on in the 67th minute in Barcelona when United trailed 1-0 – as they still did when Solskjær was introduced 14 minutes later. And as they still did when the game entered added time.

The rest is so folkloric it is hard to believe it really happened: two David Beckham corners, the first met by Ryan Giggs and turned in by Sheringham, the second headed on by the first substitute for Solskjær to poke home. Within seconds Sheringham and Solskjær were engulfed by not just those also up for the corner but also the unused replacements (for the record Raymond van der Gouw, David May, Wes Brown, Phil Neville and Jonathan Greening).

1997 Lars Ricken (Borussia Dortmund v Juventus)
Holders Juventus were favourites to beat a team they had defeated 6-1 on aggregate in the 1993 UEFA Cup final and although Dortmund went two up in Munich, substitute Alessandro Del Piero pulled one back in the 65th minute.

As Juve poured forward, Dortmund removed strikers Karl-Heinz Riedle and Stéphane Chapuisat, the latter replaced in the 70th minute by 20-year-old, locally-born youth product Ricken. Just 20 seconds later (more than 100 quicker than Bale 21 years later), Ricken chased down a through ball and sent an outrageous chip over Angelo Peruzzi to clinch a 3-1 victory. Ricken was to play more than 26,000 minutes over 407 games for Dortmund but it was those few seconds for which he is truly remembered.

1995 Patrick Kluivert (Ajax v AC Milan)
Speaking of home-town youth products brought on after 70 minutes of a final to score a decisive goal against reigning champions from Italy ... Amsterdam-born Kluivert had been with Ajax since he was seven and his senior debut came little over a decade later in August 1994, at age 18.

Kluivert certainly made an impression in his first senior campaign, as did Ajax by winning the league unbeaten and progressing to the Vienna final, beating Milan home and away in the group stage. Kluivert did not start the final yet came on for Jari Litmanen – to maximum effect. With five minutes left, having picked up a pass from ex-Milan man Frank Rijkaard, the teenaged future Milan star barged into the box and struck the ball past Sebastiano Rossi. Vienna really did mean something to Kluivert and Ajax that night.

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