Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in the Champions League final in Kiev on Saturday. Here are three things we learned from Real’s 13th European Cup triumph:
Tearful Salah rocks Reds
When Mohamed Salah slumped to the turf holding his shoulder for the second time in a matter of minutes, the tears began to flow. Egypt forward Salah was forced off when he suffered a suspected dislocated shoulder after landing awkwardly following a challenge with Real defender Sergio Ramos in the first half. Ramos, accused of deliberately dragging Salah down in an attempt to injure him, was jeered throughout the match, but regardless of any malicious intent, it was a devastating blow to Liverpool and a transcendent talent who may now miss the World Cup. Salah’s incredible debut season with the Reds saw the PFA and Football Writers’ Player of the Year shatter a host of records with 44 goals in all competitions. Liverpool’s European heroics this season were built on Salah’s predatory finishing and dazzling skill, but they had to play 60 minutes without their talisman and it was a mission too far. After dominating the opening stages, there was an immediate dip in Liverpool’s performance. Liverpool had nine shots with Salah on the pitch and none for the rest of the half. Despite a gallant second-half effort, there was a sense of inevitability about Real’s triumph as Salah nursed his wounds.
Ronaldo, Zidane among the immortals
Although he didn’t enjoy his finest individual performance, Cristiano Ronaldo still burnished his glittering CV as the Real forward became the first player to win the trophy five times in the Champions League era. Ronaldo joined an elite four-man list featuring Real trio Paco Gento, Alfredo di Stefano and Jose Maria Zarraga, plus AC Milan’s Paolo Maldini, as five-time winners of the European Cup. In his sixth European Cup final, Ronaldo couldn’t emulate his match-winning display in last year’s showpiece against Juventus. But even on a quiet night when he failed to add to his 44 goals this season, the Portugal superstar still went home with the silverware. Thanks to Gareth Bale’s majestic winner, Ronaldo wasn’t the only Madrid icon to cement his place among the immortals. Zinedine Zidane became the first coach to win the European Cup three years in a row. The former Real star is also only the third manager after Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti to lift the trophy three times — not bad for a man who endured heavy criticism and talk of the sack at times during a season that saw Madrid flop in La Liga. Real, now 13-time European Cup winners, are the first team to win the competition in three successive seasons since Bayern Munich between 1974 and 1976. Fittingly, Zidane had predicted Madrid’s latest rewriting of the history books when he faced the press on Friday. “You can’t say Liverpool have more hunger than us – it simply isn’t true. We’re in a third final and we have the chance to do something historic,” he said.
Careless Karius condemns Klopp to fresh final woe
Tormented by a pair of unforgivable mistakes from Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius, Jurgen Klopp was left heartbroken in a major final yet again as the German suffered his sixth loss in seven title matches. Klopp already knew exactly how it felt to fall just short with the Champions League trophy within touching distance after his Borussia Dortmund lost the 2013 final against Bayern Munich. Klopp’s Liverpool were also beaten by Sevilla in the 2016 Europa League final, but this was even more painful given how Karius gifted the silverware to Madrid. The 24-year-old German, signed by Klopp from Mainz in 2016, was abysmal — handing Karim Benzema the opener with a careless throw out that bounced in off the forward, before spilling a routine save from Gareth Bale into his own net in the closing minutes. Having settled on Karius ahead of Simon Mignolet over recent months, Klopp’s faith backfired and he is the fourth manager after Massimiliano Allegri, Diego Simeone and Hector Cuper to lose in two Champions League finals.