In the opening stages of the Champions League final, Liverpool forced Real Madrid firmly onto the back foot at least for the first 28 minutes many felt, that Liverpool was on their way to add to their Champions League trophy cabinet. However, on the 28th-minute mark as soon as Mohamed Salah was forced out due to injury after tangling with Sergio Ramos and falling awkwardly on his shoulder, Liverpool’s dreams started to evaporate!
Soon, Real Madrid also lost their Right Back Dani Carvajal to injury, which again seemed to have balanced the scales of the match. On the 40th minute mark, Isco swung a cross into the box that Ronaldo headed towards goal; but was saved by Karius and onto the path the path of Benzema who buried it into the net. However, the goal was ruled out as offside to the relief of Liverpool fans all over the world.
A few minutes later, soon after the start of the second half, Adam Lallana misplaced a pass onto Isco inside the box but Isco managed to hit the bar and Liverpool let out a huge sigh of relief. However, to the utter disappointment of Liverpool supporters’ the relief was short lived as soon afterwards Karius bowled to ball straight onto the path of Benzema who simply helped the ball into the back of the net. Despite protests from Liverpool, the goal stood.
Almost immediately afterwards, Milner crossed the ball into the box from a corner kick, and Dejan Lovren headed towards goal, which was swiftly buried into the goal by Sadio Mané. The goal seemed to have injected Liverpool with new vigour and they started playing a high tempo pressing football, making life quite difficult for Real Madrid! On the 60th minute mark, Isco, who was not at his best was justifiably replaced by Gareth Bale and it turned out to be a masterstroke from Zidane. Gareth Bale was surprisingly kept on the bench from the start of the match given the kind of form the Welsh Wizard has enjoyed recently and within 3 minutes of being on the pitch, Bale probably scored the best goal ever in a Champions League Final! From a simple Marcelo cross, Bale rose above everyone to connect the ball to his left foot to score from a spectacular overhead kick! It was sheer magic from the Welsh wizard to help Madrid retake the lead. Liverpool players and supporters were stunned with disbelief.
Liverpool again tried mounting a comeback through Sadio Mané, when he narrowly missed out on his second goal of the night. His effort at goal rattled off the outside of Madrid’s goal post. Ronaldo was also put through on goal but Andy Robertson made a last-ditch tackle to deny the Madrid superstar another Champions League goal. Bale then put a lovely cross into the box with the outside of his foot which was connected by Benzema and stopped incredibly by Karius!
On the 85th minute mark, Bale again shot from 25 yards out with immense power! Although it was going straight at Karius, the ball dipped suddenly and such was the power behind the shot that the ball deflected from Karius’s gloves and dropped into the goal. Soon afterwards, Bale sprinted towards goal again but was denied a hat trick by a challenge from Virgil Van Dijk.
Thus, Sergio Ramos lifted the trophy for the third year in a row. Many Liverpool fans around the world might have thought that the outcome of the match was decided when Mohamed Salah was injured in the tangle with Ramos. Many would also feel that the Ramos was to blame for putting Salah out of the game. That is the thing about Sergio Ramos, he has the lot - the good, the bad and the ugly. Despite Bale’s heroics in the final, Ramos might have yet again been decisive.