Liverpool’s bid to lift the Champions League trophy for the seventh time ended in bitter disappointment as Vinicius Jr’s second-half winner handed Real Madrid victory in Paris.
Jurgen Klopp’s side came up against a one-man wall of challenge as Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois produced one of the great individual performances to thwart Liverpool time and time again.
Mohamed Salah, seeking revenge for his early departure through injury in the 2018 final against Real, was denied six times by Courtois who was simply unbeatable.
This victory also allows Carlo Ancelotti to make history by becoming the first coach to win a fourth Champions League title.
Real have always been a threat and the decisive moment came after 59 minutes when Vinicius slipped unmarked at the far post to score.
It was also a final marred by chaotic scenes outside the Stade de France with thousands of Liverpool fans, some targeted with pepper spray by French police, unable to enter the stadium, forcing kick-off to be delayed for more than 30 minutes.
Liverpool fall at the final hurdle
Liverpool’s magnificent season won them the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup – both won on penalties against Chelsea – but ended in double disappointment in the final week of a stellar campaign.
The Champions League might have dulled the agony of Manchester City missing out on the Premier League by a point, only for Liverpool to find themselves on the wrong end of a goalkeeping masterclass from Courtois.
The Belgian was just perfect as he was a constant thorn alongside Salah, turned Sadio Mane’s shot to the post brilliantly and commanded his penalty area with flawless maneuverability.
Salah kept his head in disbelief on numerous occasions as Courtois held the barricade for Real, leaving the Egyptian to nurse the pain of yet another Champions League final loss to the Spanish giants.
Liverpool weren’t quite at their best and eventually paid the price for not taking any risks as Real surged in trademark fashion to win this tournament for a record 14th time.
Klopp’s side couldn’t have given more as they pushed to the final whistle, but looked jaded towards the end – no surprise given the demands placed on them this season.
Liverpool will still take huge credit for maintaining a push for a historic fourfold until the final week of the season, but the conclusion will sting.
The occasion left an even more bitter taste given the events outside the Stade de France. Liverpool are demanding a full investigation into how thousands of their fans were unable to enter the stadium, with dangerous numbers crammed into small areas as kick-off approached.
Real Madrid again king of Europe
Real Madrid have lived by the skin of their teeth in the Champions League this season, but any team that beats Paris St-Germain, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool to reach their goal answers all questions.
This is a team that knows how to get the job done, no matter what time they leave it, no matter how the odds seem against them.
The Reals are bolstered by years of experience and quality that gives them a concrete self-confidence that has seen them get out of so many difficult situations.
And what a moment for their legendary manager Ancelotti, who was brought back to the Bernabeu from Everton a year ago and won La Liga and the Champions League on his return.
Ancelotti can now claim history with this fourth triumph, once again showing his mastery of managing egos and top players responding to the very experienced Italian’s pleas.
He was the most relaxed man in Paris in his pre-match press conference, full of confidence, and can now look back on two Champions League wins over Liverpool, here and for AC Milan in 2007, after losing in the so-called Istanbul Miracle. in 2005.
Ancelotti is one of the greats and has proven it again.
- 4van Dijk
- 14HendersonReplaced byKeitaat 77′minutes
- 3FabinhoBooked at 62 mins
- 6Thiago AlcantaraReplaced byFirminat 77′minutes
- 23DiazReplaced byWhoat 65′minutes
- tenmodricReplaced byCeballosat 90′minutes
- 15ValverdeReplaced bycamavingaat 85′minutes
- 20Vinicius JuniorReplaced byRodrygoat 90+3′minutes
- sevenDanger E
Match ends, Liverpool 0, Real Madrid 1.
Second Half ends, Liverpool 0, Real Madrid 1.
Naby Keïta (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Toni Kroos (Real Madrid).
Foul by Near Keita (Liverpool).
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Replacement, Real Madrid. Rodrygo replaces Vinícius Júnior.
Failed attempt. Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Karim Benzema.
Corner, Real Madrid. Corner conceded by Naby Keïta.
Replacement, Real Madrid. Dani Ceballos replaces Luka Modric.
Foul by Ibrahimovic (Liverpool).
Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Liverpool. Corner conceded by Eduardo Camavinga.
Offside, Real Madrid. Luka Modric tries a through ball, but Vinícius Júnior is caught offside.
Replacement, Real Madrid. Eduardo Camavinga replaces Federico Valverde due to injury.
Corner, Liverpool. Corner conceded by Thibaut Courtois.
Attempt saved. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box sees his shot blocked. Assisted by Fabinho.
Failed attempt. Naby Keïta (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Roberto Firmino.
Corner, Liverpool. Corner conceded by Thibaut Courtois.
Attempt saved. Diogo Jota (Liverpool) left footed shot from the center of the six yard box sees his shot blocked. Assisted by Mohamed Salah.