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Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 on Saturday to complete a remarkable Champions League campaign with a record-extending 14th title in the elite event and a milestone for their coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Vinicius Junior scored the winner in the 59th minute at the Stade de France for the Spanish champions who earlier had a goal from tournament top scorer Karim Benzema disallowed for offside.
They also had to thank their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who made several first-half big saves against Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, pushing the latter’s shot against the left post during Liverpool’s best spell, and was also unbeatable after the break.
It was Real’s first title in the event since 2018 - when they also beat Liverpool - and showed their remarkable spirit that had already seen them beat Paris Saint-Germain, title holders Chelsea and Manchester City against the odds in previous rounds.
Ancelotti became the first coach with four titles, twice with AC Milan 2003 and 2007 and twice with Real 2014 and 2022.
The 2007 and 2022 wins came against Liverpool as Jürgen Klopp’s side failed to get a seventh Champions trophy at the end of a season that also saw them just missing out in the Premier League while winning the FA Cup and the League Cup.
The action started 37 minutes behind schedule, with organizers first naming security concerns and then late arrival of fans while news reports spoke of chaotic scenes outside the arena as fans queued for hours and some allegedly tried to get in without tickets.
Liverpool almost drew first blood in the 15th minute but Courtois dove to his left to keep out Salah’s short range effort off Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross.
It was all Liverpool now, and five minutes on Courtois just managed to push a low shot from Sadio Mane against the left post.
Real took a while to recover, and Liverpool needed to be on their guard twice against Vinicius Junior - while in-between Salah headed into the arms of Courtois from a promising position.
That was Liverpool’s fifth attempt on target while Real found the net on their first attempt shortly before half-time, only to have Benzema’s strike disallowed for offside after a long video review.
David Alaba played a long ball over the top to the French striker who then ran out of space against Alisson Becker but got a second chance after Liverpool failed to clear and hit home behind the goalkeeper after Federico Valverde’s effort was deflected by Fabinho - with the video assistant seemingly deciding Valverde’s ball was a pass to Benzema and Fabinho’s touch no proper clearance.
It was a huge let-off for Liverpool who however used the break to regroup and were the livelier side again - only to really fall behind just before the hour against clinical.
Valverde had a determined run into the penalty area and played a low ball towards the far post where Vinicius Junior sneaked in behind Alexander-Arnold for an easy side-footed tap-in.
Liverpool fought for the equalizer but found no way past Courtois whose biggest effort was saving Salah’s shot from point-blank range with his upper arm in the 82nd.
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29/05/2022
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