Real Madrid vs Liverpool: 5 things we learned from the Champions League final

A topsy-turvy final in Kiev produced thrills and spills on the grandest of stages.

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

After a bright start from Liverpool in Kiev, the wheels started to turn in the Real Madrid machine. 

With a goal from Karim Benzema and a brace from Gareth Bale, Zinedine Zidane’s side cantered to a 3-1 win capturing their 13th European Cup.

RealSport look at five things we learned from the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium.

  1. 1 Boy, does it matter...

    REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

    Within six first-half minutes we got a glimpse of just how much the Champions League final matters.

    First, Sergio Ramos wrestled Mohamed Salah to the floor in the 25th minute, resulting in the Egyptian falling awkwardly on his shoulder. 

    Liverpool's talisman continued for the next five minutes until he realised that his race was run on the grandest of stages. Exiting down the tunnel in tears, the hearts of Liverpool fans and neutrals broke as Klopp considered his Plan B.

    Now, in the 37th minute, it was the turn of Dani Carvajal. After having forced to be substituted in last year's final as well, the realisation of a tweaked hamstring after an attempted back heel to Ronaldo was enough to send the Spaniard into a fit of tears. 

    History had repeated itself. The 26-year-old hobbled down the tunnel to the applause of the Kiev stadium, shoulders gyrating as he sobbed.

    If anyone wanted proof of how much this competition means - these six minutes were 'exhibit A'.

  2. 2 Loris Karius is still a problem

    REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

    After being trusted by Klopp in the second half of this season, Liverpool's goalkeeper chose the worst night possible to undo all the improvements he has made previously.

    Starting the last 16 games, the German appeared to be finding his feet in the Liverpool sticks: tonight will take a lot of rebuilding to come back from.

    Throwing the ball at Benzema's feet for the opening goal followed by fumbling the ball into his own net for Madrid's third, Karius had a night to forget under the microscope of the millions watching.

    Klopp has reaped the rewards of spending big on Virgil van Dijk, a reliable number one is surely top of the German's wish list this summer.

  3. 3 A golden era for Los Blancos

    REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

    Four titles in five years - three in a row: Los Blancos are re-writing the history of the Champions League.

    This achievement shouldn't be understated. In a competition notoriously hard to win, Madrid have waltzed to titles in emphatic style, saving some of their best performances for the matches that matter.

    They join the great sides of Bayern Munich and Ajax who won three European Cups in a row back in the 70s. 

    Zidane will now be targeting Madrid's record of five straight trophies that was recorded between 1955 and 1960.

  4. 4 Gareth Bale vs Zizou

    REUTERS/Phil Noble 

    Who wore it best?

    Zidane's left-footed volley from the edge of the penalty area in the 2001-02 Champions League final looked set to remain the greatest final goal in the tournament's history. Gareth Bale has something to say about that.

    In the 64th minute, Marcelo whipped a ball to the edge of the box, head-height in the region of Gareth Bale. 

    Fresh from coming on as a substitute three minutes previous, the Welshman flung himself into the air with his left foot connecting flush with the delivery: a topspin bicycle kick of the highest quality finding the top right corner.

    Karius was helpless in the Liverpool goal as the world witnessed one of the most spectacular goals of any season, on the perfect stage.

  5. 5 Bale's parting gift

    REUTERS/Hannah McKay

    After winning his side their third successive Champions League trophy, Gareth Bale was remarkably composed in the post-match interview. 

    Speaking thoughtfully on the microphone, the Welshman dropped his biggest hint yet at a possible return to the Premier League.

    "I need to be playing week-in week-out and that hasn’t happened this season for one reason or another. I have to sit down in the summer and discuss my future with my agent and take it from there."

    Have we finally reached a stage in the 28-year-olds career when he can say "I've done it all, now"? One La Liga, one Copa del Rey, two Supercups, two Club World Cups, one Supercopa and four Champions League titles occupy Bale's trophy cupboard. 

    If the price is right, there will surely be a queue of suitable clubs drooling over the potential signature of the Welshman this summer.

    What did we miss? Let us know by commenting below.

  1. Who scored the better Champions League final goal?

    1. Zinedine Zidane
    2. Gareth Bale
    56 votes
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