Bale’s bril­liance, Kar­ius er­rors give Real third straight Euro­pean tri­umph

Stabroek News Sunday - - SPORT -

KIEV, (Reuters) - A sen­sa­tional over­head strike from Real Madrid sub­sti­tute Gareth Bale and two calami­tous er­rors by Liver­pool goal­keeper Loris Kar­ius gave the Span­ish side a third straight Cham­pi­ons League ti­tle with a 3-1 win in an incident-packed fi­nal yes­ter­day.

Welsh­man Bale came on just past the hour with the score at 1-1 and after three min­utes pro­duced an as­ton­ish­ing bi­cy­cle kick fin­ish and then net­ted with a spec­u­la­tive long-range ef­fort that some­how went through the hands of the un­for­tu­nate Kar­ius.

The Ger­man ‘keeper had ear­lier handed Real a 51st minute lead when he threw the ball straight at striker Karim Ben­zema and the ball rolled into the un­guarded net off the French­man’s leg.

“Great emo­tions. To lift three Cham­pi­ons League tro­phies with this club, this team is mag­nif­i­cent,” said Real’s Zine­dine Zi­dane, who be­came the first coach to win Europe’s top tro­phy in three con­sec­u­tive years. “We don’t quite re­alise what we have achieved yet. We are go­ing to en­joy the mo­ment. “

Liver­pool, who cru­cially lost their lead­ing scorer Mo­hamed Salah to a sus­pected dis­lo­cated shoul­der in the 31st minute, had equalised in the 55th minute when Sa­dio Mane found the net from close range after De­jan Lovren headed the ball into the area.

In truth, though, de­spite their best ef­forts Liver­pool never looked as much of a threat once Egyp­tian in­ter­na­tional Salah went down un­der a chal­lenge from Real cap­tain Ser­gio Ramos.

“We started well and played ex­actly like we wanted to,” said Liver­pool man­ager Juer­gen Klopp, who has now lost his last six fi­nals as a coach.

“The sit­u­a­tion with Ser­gio Ramos (and Salah) looked re­ally bad and it was a shock for the team, we lost the pos­i­tive mo­men­tum and they im­me­di­ately came up,” he said.

It was a night which con­firmed Real’s abil­ity to

su­perbly man­age the big­gest of games.

Bale, who has not been first-choice at Real this sea­son and whose fu­ture has been the sub­ject of much spec­u­la­tion, was man of the match while 24-year-old Kar­ius ended the night in tears as he lay flat out on the turf of the NSC Olympic Sta­dium.

Real have be­come the first team since Bay­ern Mu­nich in 1976 to win Europe’s elite club tro­phy three years in a row. The Spa­niards won five straight Euro­pean Cup tro­phies in the 1950s.

DE­SERVED TRI­UMPH

Real’s fourth Cham­pi­ons League tri­umph in five years, and 13th Euro­pean Cup suc­cess in to­tal, was fully de­served de­spite Liver­pool, the com­pe­ti­tion’s top scorers this sea­son, mak­ing an ag­gres­sive start to the game in an elec­tric at­mos­phere.

The English side at­tacked with in­tent and Trent Alexan­der-Arnold tested Navas with a low drive but Real looked in charge fol­low­ing the de­par­ture, in tears, of Salah.

Real had their own in­jury blow with right-back Dani Car­va­jal hav­ing to go off, re­placed by Na­cho in the 37th, and ended the half with Ben­zema’s ef­fort be­ing dis­al­lowed for off­side after Cris­tiano Ron­aldo’s header was saved by Kar­ius.

France striker Ben­zema was to get com­pen­sa­tion though when he was alert to Kar­ius’s ill-ad­vised at­tempt to throw the ball out quickly, al­though Real’s lead lasted just four min­utes.

Liver­pool’s Sene­gal for­ward Mane was sharp to re­act when Lovren rose to head the ball goal­wards and their trav­el­ling fans sensed the An­field side’s spirit could turn the game around.

But then came Bale, leaping to pro­duce a jaw-drop­ping left-foot over­head vol­ley from Marcelo’s cross be­fore try­ing his luck with a spec­u­la­tive long-range shot that de­fied Kar­ius’s ham-fisted at­tempt to keep it out and put the re­sult be­yond doubt.

In be­tween Liver­pool’s Sene­gal for­ward Mane hit the post from the edge of the area as Liver­pool, lack­ing their usual at­tack­ing po­tency in the ab­sence of Salah, con­tin­ued to bat­tle.

Ron­aldo, who now has five Cham­pi­ons League win­ners medals, could have added a fourth goal for Real near the end but the Por­tu­gal for­ward was dis­tracted as he burst goal­wards when a fan ran onto the pitch be­fore be­ing stopped by se­cu­rity.

This time it was Bale who had grabbed all the head­lines as Real and Zi­dane con­tin­ued their con­ti­nen­tal dom­i­nance.

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