Real Madrid were crowned European champions for a record-extending 14th time after running out 1-0 winners over Liverpool at the Stade de France this evening.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were seeking to gain a semblance of revenge after losing the 2018 final to Zinedine Zidane’s history-making team. This victory would have been their second Champions League success across four seasons as well as seeing them complete a second treble haul in their 130-year history and moving alongside Milan as the competition’s joint-second most decorated side.
However, it was Carlo Ancelotti — affectionately known as ‘Don Carlo’ — that was crowing at full-time. The much-travelled Italian tactician could easily be considered European football’s ‘GOAT’ manager. This season will go down as history. It saw him complete the ‘big five’ leagues — first manager to lift the Premier League, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A and La Liga — and win a fourth European Cup medal, the most by a head coach.
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“I can’t believe it. We had a fantastic season. We did really well. It was a difficult game and we suffered a lot, more so in the first half. In the end I think we deserved to win this competition,” he told BT Sport.
“We’re really happy. What can I say? I can’t say more. I am a record man. I had luck to come here last year and have a fantastic season. A fantastic club, a really good squad with a lot of quality and mental character.
“The season was top. I think we passed through really difficult games. The supporters helped us a lot in the last game. They helped us tonight. We’re happy and they’re happy.”
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In an eventual opening half, which saw Liverpool routinely pepper Thibaut Courtois’ goal, it was Los Blancos who could have gone into the break ahead. Karim Benzema, this season’s top scorer, felt he broke the deadlock but his 44th minute effort was ultimately ruled offside. It was pretty much business as usual after the interval though Real had an extra step in their bounce and found themselves in front against the run of play.
Vinícius Júnior wrote his name in the record books as Real’s latest final hero. The impressive 21-year-old Brazilian winger broke Liverpool’s hearts when he converted a Dani Carvajal low cross before the hour mark. Klopp’s swashbuckling outfit continued to huff and puff but they couldn’t beat an inspired Thibaut Courtois who made no fewer than nine saves, the most on record by a goalkeeper in a single Champions League final, he was deservedly named man-of-the-match.
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It was still a herculean effort this season. Real had to get past Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City just to be at this showpiece event. By surviving their fellow ‘super clubs’ this success will surely go down as one of the more legendary runs in tournament history. Real have now won football’s most demanding club competiton twice as more as the next most successful club (Milan), whose sixth and seventh titles were claimed by Ancelotti, who continues to do things his own way. Not long before the knockout phase began there were some calling for his resignation, those voices were not heeded, instead by staying the course he’s certain to be given the freedom of Madrid especially as his previous European Cup with Real was the mythical ‘Decima’.