Real Madrid have won the 2017/18 Champions League, beating Premier League side Liverpool 3-1 in Kiev. The Bernabeu club have now won three Champions League titles in a row, extending their record-breaking trophy haul in Europe’s top competition to 13.
The initial stages of the 7.45pm kickoff were surprisingly cagey considering the firepower on display. In fact, the most significant moment of the first half was a shoulder injury to Mohamed Salah, which forced the Liverpool talisman off in the 37th minute.
The match exploded to life shortly after half time when goalkeeper Loris Karius gifted a goal to Real Madrid by throwing the ball across the path of Karim Benzema, who poked home an interception from inside Liverpool’s penalty area. It would not be the German’s only howler of the evening.
Liverpool shortly hit back through Sadio Mane, latching onto a Dejan Lovren knockdown at a corner, but the equaliser was soon overshadowed by what will be remembered as one of the greatest Champions League final goals – 61st-minute substitute Gareth Bale applying a perfectly executed bicycle kick to a Marcelo cross.
After the wondergoal, Liverpool slowly began to run out of steam as the intensity seeped out of their high pressing game. Then came the calamitous moment to confirm Real Madrid’s fourth European triumph in five years; Bale drove a routine long-range shot at Karius, but the German’s attempt to make a simple save saw the ball spin off his gloves and over his shoulder into the back of the net.
From that moment in the 83rd minute, another crowning for Los Blancos appeared inevitable. After one fan invaded the pitch in stoppage time, just as Cristiano Ronaldo – who endured a surprisingly quiet evening – honed in for a fourth goal, referee Milorad Mazic blew the full time whistle.
Almost two-and-a-half years on from being appointed Real Madrid boss in January 2016, Zinedine Zidane has become the first manager to win three consecutive Champions League titles – and is still yet to be eliminated from the competition.