FT: Real Madrid C.F. 3-1 Liverpool F.C.
The long awaited final began with an awe-inspiring opening ceremony by the British Pop Star Dua Lipa. Although an ambitious attempt at commercializing the event, like the SuperBowl ceremony, it was received with indifference as the fans looked forward to the main event of the night, with baited breaths.
The match began with Liverpool- the more intimidating side, with Madrid’s passing not as faultless as one would imagine. The Reds created dangerous openings but failed to create enough distinct opportunities. However, the balance of power shifted in favor of their opponents once Klopp’s team lost its key player and PFA Golden boot winner, Mohamed Salah to a dislocated shoulder. The tussle with Ramos that led to the injury has been dissected by numerous pundits with the consensus that the tackle by the Spaniard was fair but the follow through should have been a foul for the Egyptian. This lowered the morale of the English team, who had to change their game plan to replace a member of their deadly trio, that had claimed 30 goals during the UCL campaign. Just a couple of minutes later, similar misfortune struck Real as they lost their first choice right back, Dani Carvajal to a suspected hamstring injury. However, with this loss not as debilitating as the previous one, the reigning UCL champions adapted and ended the first half on a strong note.
It turned out to be a game of two halves with the second half decisive to the fortunes of either team. At the 50th minute, Liverpool’s German keeper, Loris Karius collected an innocuous ball and looked to roll it to a teammate. However, his spatial awareness betrayed him with Benzema intercepting the pass, which eventually landed the ball in the net. The Reds made a quick recovery and levelled the game at the 60th minute, when a shabbily defended corner fell into the Senegalese international’s path, who made no mistake. With the game at a stalemate, Zidane decided to replace the underperforming Isco for Gareth Bale in a decision that turned out to be masterstroke. Bale immediately impacted the game by scoring an audacious bicycle kick goal to rival his Portuguese teammate’s effort against Juventus. With the match in their favor, Bale decided to try another shot from distance that was straight at the goalkeeper. But the German keeper had other ideas and attempted to punch it instead of catching it. The pace of the strike caused the ball to tumble into the net, leaving the keeper with his second mistake of the night and condemning Liverpool to defeat by a margin of 2 goals.