Published On: Sat, May 26th, 2018

Super-sub Bale inspires Real Madrid to Champions League glory over Liverpool

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Do you need a lie down after that?

Real Madrid collected its third consecutive Champions League title with a breathless 3-1 win over Liverpool on Saturday.

The first of Gareth Bale‘s two-goal haul was outrageous. Moments after his 61st-minute introduction from the bench, the Welshman unleashed an acrobatic effort that will undoubtedly go down as one of the best in the competition’s history.

It was a final of heartbreak, calamity, hurtling speed, and sublime skill. It was a classic. Mohamed Salah‘s 31st-minute withdrawal with a shoulder injury threatened to tarnish the contest – a sorry ending to a spectacular campaign from the forward – and Dani Carvajal was also teary-eyed when he was withdrawn early. Both players are now doubts for the World Cup campaigns of Egypt and Spain, respectively.

The teams reconvened at the break with the scoreline at 0-0. A few minutes into the second period, the match reached its boiling point.

The opener was the first of two terrible errors from Loris Karius. The German gathered an overhit long ball from Real Madrid, and then proceeded to throw the ball onto the outstretched foot of Karim Benzema. Liverpool’s weak appeals for offside did nothing to lessen the goalkeeper’s embarrassment.

Sadio Mane levelled for the Reds just four minutes later. Dejan Lovren rose well to meet a James Milner corner with his head, and the Senegalese – arguably the best player in Liverpool’s continental run – was on hand to poke past Keylor Navas.

Then came the turning point: Zinedine Zidane calling Bale into the fray. His aforementioned first was immense, and his second in the 83rd minute was another unfortunate flashpoint that Karius may never live down. Saving Bale’s long-range dig should’ve been a formality, but Karius did his best hologram impression as the ball slipped off his palms and nestled into the mesh.

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

When the final whistle sounded, Karius was inconsolable and apologised to the travelling Liverpool fans.

“Obviously I was very disappointed not to start the game, I felt I deserved it but the manager makes the decisions. The best I have been doing is to come on and make an impact, I certainly did,” Bale reflected to BT Sport post-match.

“It has to be the best goal in a Champions League final, there is no bigger stage. I am just happy to get the win.”

Not only was this Los Blancos’ third straight Champions League crown, it was their fourth in five years and record 13th procurement of Europe’s top club honour. Zidane’s dynastic tenure rumbles on.

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