Real Madrid have won the Champions League for a record-extending 14th time after a 1-0 win over Liverpool.
Vinicius Junior scored the only goal of the game just under 15 minutes into the second half, collecting Fede Valverde’s drilled cross-shot to fire past Alisson. It capped a tremendous performance from Real, particularly in defence, as Carlo Ancelotti’s side soaked up huge periods of pressure before capitalising on their opportunity.
The game was delayed by 36 minutes with thousands of Liverpool fans stuck outside the Stade de France trying to get in – the result of significant queues outside the ground and police seemingly closing off entrances to get in.
There was even evidence of fans being pepper-sprayed as supporters with tickets were ultimately unable to get into the ground.
On the field, after a Super Bowl inspired Camila Cabello performance, it was a relatively tame start. The first 15 minutes passed by with very little happening, though it was Liverpool who looked the more comfortable of the two sides on the ball.
The first chance of the game fell the Reds away soon after as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s neat footwork and cutback fashioned a chance for Mohamed Salah.
But the Egyptian was unable to generate any real power on his flick at goal, and that allowed Thibaut Courtois to get down low to claw the ball away.
Thiago stung the Belgian’s palms moments later with a long-range drive before Real Madrid’s goalkeeper pulled off a truly world class save from Sadio Mane. The Senegalese forward made space for himself and fired a powerful low effort towards the bottom corner, with Courtois somehow getting down to palm the effort onto the post.
Liverpool’s domination continued as Salah, Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho had further efforts on goal – Salah guilty of planting a free header straight into the midriff of Courtois – before Real Madrid had their first chance of the game on 43 minutes.
Karim Benzema spun in behind Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson to advance into Liverpool’s penalty area, only to be closed down by the onrushing Alisson. His attempted pass back to Valverde eventually bobbled back his way, and the Frenchman fired home into the back of the net, seemingly giving Real the lead.
However, Valverde was deemed to have touched the ball despite replays suggesting it had ricocheted off Fabinho, and then saw Benzema flagged offside by the officials – the decision controversially upheld by VAR.
The second half saw Liverpool come out on the front once more, but Real Madrid – as they’ve done so often in this season’s Champions League – hit the front just before the hour.
Valverde’s burst down the right after collecting Casemiro’s pass allowed the Spaniard to fire a low cross-shot across Liverpool’s box, and Vinicius snuck in behind the unsuspecting Alexander-Arnold to plant the ball past Alisson.
Liverpool responded with a fierce Salah drive well saved by Courtois, before Jurgen Klopp dipped into his reserves to bring on Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita.
But the changes didn’t warrant the response many would have expected, with Real instead stoically seeing the game out with numerous blocks and clearances.
GK: Alisson – 6/10 – Could do nothing to stop Vinicius’ goal – and had little else to do.
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6/10 – Pinged a couple of lovely diagonal balls over to Diaz and always threatened going forward.
RCB: Ibrahima Konate – 8/10 – Aggressive in the air and in the tackle, and looked extremely comfortable striding forward with the ball. Impressive.
LCB: Virgil van Dijk – 6/10 – Strode out of defence with purpose and generally led the backline well.
LB: Andy Robertson – 6/10 – The more subdued of Liverpool’s adventurous full-backs was occasionally exploited in-behind.
RCM: Jordan Henderson – 6/10 – Controlled the midfield battle early on but wasn’t able to break down Real’s stoic defence.
CM: Fabinho – 6/10 – Cool, calm and collected at the base of midfield. Barely put a foot wrong apart from a crunching late tackle that earned a deserved yellow – but it wasn’t enough.
LCM: Thiago – 6/10 – Good early on as Liverpool dominated possession but didn’t make the most of the space afforded to him.
RF: Mohamed Salah – 6/10 – Denied by Courtois on numerous occasions – may feel he should have done better with a free header in the first half.
ST: Sadio Mane – 6/10 – Lively and energetic from the off, Mane was denied the opener by a world class save from Courtois. Faded.
LF: Luis Diaz – 5/10 – A rare disappointing night for the Colombian, with Carvajal convincingly coming out on top of their duel.
SUB: Diogo Jota (64′ for Diaz) – 5/10 – Unable to make any kind of impact for Liverpool.
SUB: Roberto Firmino (77′ for Thiago) – N/A
SUB: Naby Keita (77′ for Henderson) – N/A
Subs not used: Kelleher (GK), Milner, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Minamino, Tsimikas, Matip, Elliott
Real Madrid (4-3-3)
GK: Thibaut Courtois – 9/10 – Made a superhuman save to deny Mane after 20 minutes, sprawling down to his right when he had no right to get a hand on the ball. Denied Salah several times thereafter and was generally a colossal figure in goal.
RB: Dani Carvajal – 8/10 – Put all of his past injury woes behind him with a tremendous display of defending. Rendered Diaz an irrelevance.
RCB: Eder Militao – 8/10 – Made some vital interceptions in the second half and defended resolutely throughout.
LCB: David Alaba – 8/10 – On the back foot for most of the game but made a number of blocks, clearances and ball recoveries.
LB: Ferland Mendy – 7/10 – Struggled to get to grips with Salah’s movement at times but put in a good shift.
RCM: Luka Modric – 8/10 – Grew in influence as the game wore on. Hard to believe the Croatian is 36 when you consider his energy levels.
CM: Casemiro – 9/10 – The master of the dark arts sure knows how to break up a game and pick up the loose balls. Superb in the second half.
LCM: Toni Kroos – 8/10 – Rarely gave the ball away as Real Madrid’s masterplan came together once more. A fifth Champions League win and fourth with Los Blancos.
RW: Federico Valverde – 9/10 – Outstanding work rate and tenacity on the right flank. Produced a real moment of quality to set up Vinicius for the opening goal.
ST: Karim Benzema – 7/10 – Not at his brilliant best, for once. Luckily didn’t need to be as Real’s all-around performance was brilliant.
LW: Vinicius Junior – 8/10 – Ghosted in behind Alexander-Arnold to steer Real Madrid into the lead. Menacing and powerful on the dribble.
SUB: Eduardo Camavinga (85′ for Valverde) – N/A
SUB: Dani Ceballos (90′ for Modric) – N/A
SUB: Rodrygo (90’+2 for Vinicius) – N/A
Subs not used: Lunin (GK), Nacho, Hazard, Asensio, Marcelo, Vazquez, Bale, Isco, Mariano