Paris – Real Madrid secured a record-extending 14th European Cup when they beat Liverpool 1-0 in the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday in Paris.
The game started after a 35-minute delay following incidents outside the stadium.
That was when fans were tear-gassed by riot police as people without tickets tried to force their way into the Stade de France.
Vinicius Junior scored just before the hour with Real Madrid’s first attempt on goal and their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made several fine saves to deny Liverpool.
The result meant that Liverpool ended the season with two domestic cups having also failed to win the English Premier League.
In a battle of European heavyweights, Juergen Klopp’s side had more chances.
But they lacked sharpness when it mattered as Carlo Ancelotti became the first coach to enjoy four European Cup triumphs.
Ancelotti won the trophy with AC Milan and Real Madrid twice, leapfrogging Liverpool’s Bob Paisley and Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane.
“I am a record man. I had luck to come here last year and have a fantastic season.
“A fantastic club, a really good squad with a lot of quality and mental character,” said Ancelotti of a team who came from behind against Paris St-Germain (PSG), Chelsea and Manchester City to reach the final.
It was the LaLiga title-holders’ fourth UEFA Champions League crown in seven years as they improved their impressive record in the competition with their eighth victory in as many finals.
Liverpool were looking for their seventh European Cup triumph but in spite of their best efforts they were left in awe of Courtois’s sublime performance.
“In the dressing room nobody feels it was a great season at this moment,” said Liverpool manager Klopp, whose team beat Chelsea on penalty kicks in the FA Cup and League Cup.
“We played a good game, not a perfect game, but I don’t think a perfect game would have been possible the way the opponent was set up with a deep formation.
“We had a lot of shots but not the clearest and Thibaut Courtois made two top saves.”
The final was to be played in St Petersburg but European football governing body UEFA relocated it to Paris after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation”.
Liverpool had won the previous European Cup final both teams had played in Paris, winning 1-0 at the Parc des Princes in 1981, which was Real Madrid’s last defeat in a final.
Liverpool were the slight favourites on Saturday but Real Madrid beat the Merseyside club for the second time in a row after their 3-1 victory in 2018.
Liverpool started the game by pushing high up the pitch, looking to quickly feed their full-backs, and the pressure on the Real Madrid backline became immense.
Mohamed Salah was picked out by Trent Alexander-Arnold in the penalty box but Courtois stretched to deny the Egyptian.
Sadio Mane came much closer when he ghosted past Eder Militao and Casemiro before his fierce attempt was tipped onto the post by the excellent Courtois in the 21st minute.
Liverpool, however, were not incisive enough in attack and Real Madrid’s only chance of the first half gave Liverpool a huge scare.
But Karim Benzema’s effort was ruled out.
This was after the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) ruled that he was offside, being played in by Federico Valverde in spite of Fabinho’s deflection.
Liverpool were back at it early in the second half but Real Madrid soaked up the pressure until they struck in the 59th minute.
It started when Luka Modric turned smartly away from Andy Robertson to create space.
It ended with Valverde’s pinpoint driven pass across to the far post being turned in by Vinicius.
Courtois then dived to superbly tip Salah’s curled attempt away to keep Real Madrid ahead.
The Belgian goalkeeper was impeccable again to deny Salah 10 minutes from time before his delighted teammates jumped into his arms to show their gratitude at the final whistle.(Reuters/NAN)