Real Madrid 3 Liverpool 1 (Benzema, Bale (2); Mane)
By the end of the night it felt that whatever Gareth Bale tried in this Champions League final would find the back of the Liverpool net, and even if what he attempted was not good enough then it would be Loris Karius’ misfortune to help it on its way.
This was the fourth Champions League final of Bale’s five years at Real Madrid, but the first in which he upstaged everyone, including Cristiano Ronaldo on the kind of night that is supposed to belong to Ronaldo. The first of the two goals the substitute scored was an overhead kick good enough to win any one of the 13 European Cup finals in which Madrid have now triumphed, and the second was part of the other story of the night that ended so differently.
Karius had the kind of night that a goalkeeper will never be able to forget and as he later sobbed in front of the Liverpool end, trying to express his sorrow for two terrible errors you wondered at how long the young German’s career will take to recover. He had thrown a ball against Karim Benzema’s foot for Madrid’s first goal and flapped in the second of Bale’s which was struck from 40 yards by Bale in the firm belief that whatever by that point he did would turn to gold.
It would have been hard for Liverpool to win this final with a goalkeeper as lost as Karius was, but it was even harder without Mohamed Salah, their goal machine taken out of the final by a first half entanglement with Madrid’s great cynic-in-chief, Sergio Ramos. Jurgen Klopp stopped short of blaming the Madrid captain for a wrestle that ended with Salah thrust down hard onto his neck and shoulder with the arm that should have broken his fall locked in by Ramos.
The Egyptian left the pitch in tears on just half an hour and he seemed to know then what Klopp confirmed later, that the injury was “really serious” and could cost him a place at the World Cup finals. Ramos was not even booked and we will never know if he could have foreseen what would happen but there was no question that he held onto Salah long after the Liverpool man was going down at a precipitous angle, slammed into the pitch.
In the aftermath, Bale was as outspoken as he has ever been about his Madrid future declaring that he needs to play games and that he will discuss the issue with his agent Jonathan Barnett over the summer. It certainly sounded like the end of Bale and Madrid, given that he has always been unequivocal that he would stay or perhaps it was the ultimate power play that will see Ronaldo leave and the Welshman remain.
While Bale was playing poker with his future in Madrid, so Ronaldo was declaring that he too would be leaving the club in the summer. The contract that he was promised by president Florentino Perez after victory in Cardiff last summer has never materialised and afterwards it fell to Zinedine Zidane to try to head off a crisis on this, his greatest night. “Cristiano has to stay, I always say this,” he said.
They scarcely had picked up the trophy and this famous Madrid side was already being picked apart but if this was their sign-off then they demonstrated just why winning these finals comes so easy to this team. There were periods when Liverpool were able to change the game to their kind of pace and tempo but there were so few of them, even when Sadio Mane scored a second half equaliser which briefly gave Jurgen Klopp’s team hope before Bale took over.
Mane would later hit the post with the score at 2-1 but 66 per cent of the possession of this game belonged to Madrid and the chaos that Klopp likes to inflict on teams just never materialised. He had to bring on Adam Lallana in place of the injured Salah, the Englishman having played just 16 minutes of senior football since the end of March and it showed in his game.
The injury to Salah was a grievous blow for Liverpool who had been blown around for periods of the first half, incapable of breaking the rhythms of Madrid’s passing. They had the only attempt on target in the first half from Trent Alexander-Arnold, the first teenager to start a Champions League final since Johan Neeskens for Ajax in 1971, and yet even then Madrid felt in control.
Madrid also lost a player to injury before the first half, and Dani Carvajal also departed in tears but if there was one they could afford to lose then it was their right-back. Isco hit the bar within three minutes of the start if the new half, the kind of chance that he should really have scored and it was eventually the Spain international who made way for Bale.
Before then came the first goal, Karius with the ball in his hands and Benzema, perhaps slightly more tenaciously than expected, dangling a foot in front of the goalkeeper’s under-arm distribution. Benzema got the full force of it, dribbling off his foot and into the corner of Liverpool’s goal. Those who had looked away expecting the ball to be released, turned back to Karius protesting – protesting what? – and Klopp, a man of so many emotions, unable to express a single one on the touchline.
He has known for some time that this young goalkeeper is not the answer to one of the club’s enduring problems and that was ruthlessly punished on this night above all. If anything, once the initial shock had subsided, it liberated Liverpool a little. From James Milner’s cross from the right they won the corner which Dejan Lovren won over the top of Ramos for Mane to squeeze in.
Bale had come on after the hour and within two minutes he had taken his opportunity. It is hard enough to execute an overhead kick in any circumstances and Bale did not have time to fully rotate and extend for his overhead kick. But he caught Marcelo’s cross at the perfect point of the arc and you knew instantly you had seen one of the goals of a lifetime.
— Real Madrid C.F.�������� (@realmadriden) May 26, 2018
His second goal of the night was a disaster for Karius, a shot that Bale would later say had “some wobble” on it but should have been saved easily by the Liverpool goalkeeper. By the end of the match the reality had sunk in and Karius slumped to the floor where the tears began to flow.
As we wrap up for tonight, here's a round-up of various records and milestones for Real Madrid.
With the victory Real became the first team to win three straight titles in the Champions League era. Before the European Cup switched to the Champions League format in 1992, Real won five straight titles (1956-1960), while Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam and German team Bayern Munich both won three successive European Cup trophies in the 1970s.
Real's Zinedine Zidane is the first coach to win three straight European Cup titles in any era. The former France playmaker only became Real coach in January, 2016.
Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to win five Champions League titles. He won his first with Manchester United in 2008 and has been part of Real's four titles in the past five seasons. Former Real player Francisco 'Paco' Gento holds the record from the pre-Champions League era with six titles.
Spanish clubs have won their last seven finals against English clubs (Champions League and Europa League)
Liverpool's Juergen Klopp has now lost five straight finals as a coach. German Klopp won his first final - the 2012 German Cup with Borussia Dortmund - but then lost the 2013 Champions League final to Bayern and the 2014 German Cup final to the Bavarians plus the 2015 German Cup final to VFl Wolfsburg. At Liverpool he lost the 2016 League Cup final to Manchester City on penalties and, in the same season, the Europa League showpiece to Sevilla before Saturday's defeat by Real in Kiev.
Egyptians rage against Ramos
Unsurprisingly, Ramos is not exactly popular in Egypt right now. In Cairo, fans screamed insults at Ramos during a public screening of the final.
Egyptians also took to social media to vent their frustration over Salah's injury and blame Ramos for causing it, using Arabic's rich and colourful range of expletives.
At cafes in Cairo where tens of thousands watched the game, an eerie silence fell when Salah hit the ground with Ramos. They let out a collective sigh of relief when he returned to the game, but screamed insults at Ramos when he left the game for good.
Mo Salah is likely out for the World Cup.
Sergio Ramos ruined things for 90 million Egyptians, and 1.7 Billion Muslims.
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) May 26, 2018
At one cafe in Cairo, many of the 500 people who gathered to watch the game on a giant screen left when Salah exited the match.
"Ramos does not play football, it's more like wrestling. Liverpool would have won if Salah continued to play," said Mustafa Mohammed, an 18-year-old university student who wept when the Egyptian winger left the game.
Egypt optimistic over Salah
Egypt says Mohamed Salah sprained his shoulder ligaments but the team is optimistic he'll play at the World Cup next month.
The Egypt team says on Twitter that its doctor is in contact with Liverpool medical staff and there is reason to hope that Salah can play in Egypt's first World Cup campaign for 28 years.
Salah left the stadium with his arm in a sling after the match. He was forced off in the 30th minute after injuring his shoulder in a hard tackle from Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.
Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp didn't appear so hopeful, saying "anything is possible" but that Salah is doubtful for the World Cup.
Egypt's first Group A game is on June 15 against Uruguay, before matches against Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Loris Karius speaks
"My mistakes have lost the team the final. I'm sorry ... sorry to everyone."
And a touch of class from Internazionale and Napoli.
— Inter (@Inter_en) May 26, 2018
— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) May 26, 2018
A hostage to fortune is liberated safe and sound
— Real Madrid C.F.�������� (@realmadriden) May 26, 2018
A compassionate word of wisdom
Feel sorry for Karius but it’s how you bounce back I have been there it’s a dark place to be I hope he comes through it
Believe in yourself
— Neville Southall (@NevilleSouthall) May 26, 2018
"Great emotions, to live this. To win three Champions Leagues with this club, this team is magnificent. [Was Bale's goal better than yours at Hampden?] It was different but Gareth's goal was magnificent. We are going to enjoy what we've achieved [and not worry about next season just yet].
"We've had a complicated season but we end it in joy. This is a legendary club, we have won 13 European Cups and I am happy to be part of this history.@
Klopp on Salah
The manager thinks his World Cup is now in serious jeopardy.
Jurgen Klopp speaks
"We started well, we played exactly like we wanted to play then that situation with Ramos and Mo looks really bad and was a shock for the team.
"We dropped too deep, couldn't defend the pass of Kroos and Modric. We had to work and run, half-time came in. What can I say about the goals? We scored one, they scored three.
"What can I say? Loris knows it. Everyone knows it. I really feel for him. Fantastic boy. The second one is because of the first one. It's difficult in a game like this to get the bad thoughts out of your mind.
"We were in the game. We tried everything. Everything was great until tonight. You go to a final to win it and when you don't you feel like a failure. It was a proper chance for us tonight but we didn't do it. What more can I say?
Luka Modric speaks
It's something unbelievable, something historic. Twice was really amazing. This was really historic. We watched a film about basketball last night about the Lakers and Bulls who won four or five in a row. They called them a dynasty. I think you can call us a dynasty now. Every title is special. Every one. The first is the first but the third in a row, is very special. I don't think anyone will repeat it. We need now to enjoy not to think of other things (going for a fourth).
A handy path to all our CL final content
My Spanish correspondent writes
John McEnerney tells us
CR7 has just given an interview to Spanish TV with a sour puss on him & dropped a major hint that he’s on his way out of Real! The commentators haven’t stopped talking about it for the last five minutes. Neymar to Real?
He did smile after watching Bale's overhead fly in but was remarkably mardy for most of the game and immediately afterwards.
Jordan Henderson speaks
Disappointing of course. Done well to get back into the game. Mistakes. Madrid were really good. They're a fantastic side and we knew they were going to hurt us. We dominated the first 30-35 minutes and had a few chances. When Mo got injured they started dominating a bit more. We kept in the game, go a goal back.
The first one I don't know if it's allowed. He couldn't do anything with the second and [with the third] the ball's got loads of movement on which is always difficult. It's not about one person it's about everybody. We weren't good enough. We have to thank the fans. We have a fantastic squad and a fantastic manager.
Champions League final player ratings
Gareth Bale speaks
Obviously I was very disappointed not to start the game, I thought I deserved it. The best I could do was come on and make an impact – and that’s what I did. It has to be the best goal I’ve ever scored. I'm just happy to get the win. We know what we’ve achieved and how good we’ve been. We let everyone else speak, we know how hungry and determined we are and we showed it again today.
“[Shall I ask you my annual question of whether we will ever see you back in the PL?] I need to be playing week-in week-out and that hasn’t happened this season for one reason or another. I have to sit down in the summer and discuss my future with my agent and take it from there.”
Gerrard on Karius who went over to the Liverpool fans
Liverpool fans are educated, they're forgiving, they'll back you when times are tough and when you're top of the world. I admire him for owning up but he's in for a tough few months.
Real Madrid have won their 13th European Cup
Jurgen Klopp is on the field, hugging his players. Lovren is weeping as are Milner, Karius and Henderson. Sadly that goalkeeping performance will be talked about forever. And so, for the right reasons, will be Gareth Bale's first goal.
Real Madrid have won a hat-trick of Champions Leagues and their 13th European Cup. Karius is distraught and there are a lot of tears from Lovren et al. Madrid players are trying to console Karius. John Aldridge would rub his hair if he was playing for the opposition.
90+2 min Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool
Out come the scarves and the Liverpool fans sing their original hit. A pitch invader runs on to the field as Ronaldo shapes to shoot and is wrestled to the ground.
90 min Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool
We'll have three added minutes which begin with Alexander-Arnold's free-kick from the left that Real Madrid head clear. Here's Karius' second howler:
89 min Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool
Is there a way back for Karius? I can't see how there is after the two errors which will be replayed for all eternity. Benzema is replaced by Marco Asensio.
87 min Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool
Liverpool fans crank up YNWA after Bale speeds through the middle, a hat-trick in his sights, when Lovren, who has played very well, halts his progress with another fine sliding tackle. Ronaldo gives Bale an earful for not passing. Top trolling.
85 min Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool
It dipped a little but that was a calamitous error from the keeper who shaped to punch it then flapped at his attempted catch and treated it like a bar of wet soap. Awful keeping. Poor lad. Both errors will be indelible stains unfortunately.
Goal!! Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool
Bale scores - another assist from the hapless Karius, who drops a shot into the goal.
83 min Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool
Liverpool are making a substitution. Can replaces the clearly flagging Milner.
81 min Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool
Sharp save from Karius after a Bale cross with the outside of his left foot from the right is met sweetly by Benzema and smashed on target with a volley. Liverpool are increasingly open at the back.
79 min Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool
Liverpool aren't warming their subs up. There's a sense that they have no gamechangers there. Take a look at this again:
76 min Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool
Milner crosses twice from the left after bursting beyond Modric but both are blocked. Milner takes the throw-in from the left and Liverpool switch it to Alexander-Arnold whose deep cross is beaten back by Real Madrid.
74 min Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool
Marvellous sliding tackle from Robertson as Ronaldo shifts the ball on to his left to almost certainly score from 12 yards after being out through. Ronaldo hesitated a while to shift feet, allowing Robertson to seize his chance that came at the end of a swift Real break following a Liverpool shout for a penalty that wasn't given and rightly so. Firmino's cross hit Casemiro on the elbow from two yards and the ref turned down Liverpool's protestations.
72 min Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool
Good sliding tackle from Van Dijk denies Ronaldo. Here's Bale's bicycle kick:
70 min Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool
Mane now cuts in from the right and shoots with his left, crunching it on to the right post. Liverpool could do with taking Lallana off. He isn't ready for this much football and intensity after such a long lay-off.
69 min Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool
Mane exploits Ramos succumbing to cramp to latch on to Robertson's pass. Out comes Navas but Ramos recovers to welly it behind.
68 min Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool
Liverpool bounced back within five minutes after Real Madrid's first. They need Milner to rouse them once more.
— Real Madrid vs Liverpool live on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 26, 2018
66 min Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool
The Liverpool fans were understandably stunned for a moment or too but are beginning to recover.
64 min Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool
A left-foot bicycle-kick from 18 yards. He had to get up high to meet the cross and acrobatically scores a goal the equal of Ronaldo's overhead in the group. What a goal! Unstoppable.
Goal!! Real Madrid 2-1 Liverpool
Bale with what the kids call a banger. What a strike!
62 min Real Madrid 1-1 Liverpool
That was Isco's last touch. Gareth Bale replaces him. Here's Liverpool's equaliser:
60 min Real Madrid 1-1 Liverpool
Gareth Bale is warming up and now taking off his training top. Modric spots Nacho peeling off down the right and plays him in. The full-back crosses, Isco stuns it, eight yards out, turns and shoots. Karius swoops down smartly to push it wide though I think it was missing anywayy.
58 min Real Madrid 1-1 Liverpool
Here's Real Madrid's opener:
57 min Real Madrid 1-1 Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp celebrated with epic aggression, punching the air, gurning magnificently and leaping towards the Liverpool fans.
55 min Real Madrid 1-1 Liverpool
Milner's corner is headed back across the box by Lovren who won it majestically and Mane converted with a kung fu flying volley, his leg raised horizontally to belt it past Navas from five yards. That was a tremendous comeback.
Goal!! Real Madrid 1-1 Liverpool
53 min Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool
When not investing in a proper elite keeper costs you, possibly very dear indeed. Liverpool rally with Milner up the left and he bends in a cross towards the far post that is headed out just over Firmino's head at the far post for a corner.
Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool
A Karius cock-up of epic proportions. He underarmed the ball out and Benzema blocks it, diverting it into an empty net. Karius claims Benzema had a raised foot but he didn't. Liverpool's goalkeeper has cost them a goal. Never a foul in a million years.
GOAL!! Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool
49 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
That chance originated in a fine right-wing cross from Benzema that Liverpool scrambled half clear.
47 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Isco hits the bar with Karius stranded after a mistake from Lallana who diverted Marcelo's pass into Isco's path. Isco had to hook it on the volley over a falling Karius from 15 yards but shinned it on to the crossbar.
46 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
We're off again and Real Madrid, with no urgency, give the ball to Liverpool in the right-back position and the men in red, the fabled Red Men, attack up the left. A cute backheel from Mane is not read by Lallana and Real Madrid usher it behind for a goalkick.
Mohamed Salah update
And it's dreadful news for Egypt too, because he has a suspected dislocated shoulder. If they need to pin it there's no way he'll be able to play in the World Cup.
A bright start from Liverpool but losing Mo Salah has burst their bubble for the last 15 minutes. Real Madrid, forced to start slowly, are coming more and more into it. Liverpool and Klopp need to stress the importance of getting the ball up to Firmino who has to station himself further up the pitch to force Real Madrid backwards.
45+2 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Kroos bends the inswinger to the near post where it's headed clear. Liverpool have no one up front to soak up the ball and time so back come Real Madrid with Benzema who whacks a shot from 20 yards that scuds wide of the left post. Karius dives but more for belt and braces than any need.
45+1 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
The first of three added minutes begins with Marcelo pushing high up the left, a run that ends with Alexander-Arnold's patient jockeying and crisp tackle. Corner.
44 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Terrific cross from the left by Benzema arcs over the defenders and dips beyond the back post to meet Nacho's run. The replacement right-back had motored 60 yards to meet it on the volley, but flays it into the side netting.
42 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Real Madrid put the ball in the Liverpool net but Benzema, who knocked it in with a right foot shot into the corner after Ronaldo's header was saved by Karius, was offside. (So was Ronaldo, who should have scored from Isco's sublime chip but he would not have been punished had he converted but he placed it too close to the keeper).
40 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Mane loses the ball and Real fly up the left only for Ronaldo to give the ball away with a wayward pass that should have been an easy one.
38 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool's lines are very tightly organised and compact in defence as Real Madrid try to penetrate. Modric, at last, goes on a dribble down the right and tries to cross but Van Dijk slides in to block the centre out and behind for a corner. Real Madrid send the header beast Ramos up but then take it short and Liverpool snuff it out with dynamic, indeed gegen, pressing.
36 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Carvajal, too, departs in tears. Nacho will replace him.
35 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Carvajal who was injured in last year's final seems to have done his hamstring - as he did last year - when trying a backheel up the right wing on the overlap. Klopp uses the break to gather his 10 outfield players and talk to them on the rouchline.
33 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Excellent block from Lovren, stopping Benzema's point blank shot. Every Ramos touch is being booed by Liverpool's fans. Was he to blame? Well, he hung on to Salah as he fell but I doubt he could have deliberately fallen on him in such a premeditated way at the moment the point of his shoulder hit the ground. It would have been very difficult to choreograph that but he was gripping on.
32 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Adam Lallana replaces Mo Salah and goes to the left. Sadio Mane moves to the right.
31 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Salah sits down and in floods of tears says he can't go on and is clutching his left shoulder. What a shame. Lallana is getting stripped to come on. Salah puts his head on Klopp's arm and weeps.
29 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool corner after clever work from Mane down the left forces Carvajal to concede it. Liverpool set up for an inswinger. Navas is given a free-kick for Wijnaldum blocking him off but it wasn't much.
27 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Huge concern for Liverpool as Salah waves on the physio, yelling in pain after falling on his shoulder with Ramos on top of his arm with their arms interlocked. He pins him to the floor. After two minutes, he springs back up after some treatment.
25 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
And Robertson squares it to Firmino back to goal about 15 yards out. His turning circle is quite large because of the pace of the pass but he manages it, swivels and shoots. Ramos blocks it with his shin and the ball rebounds out to Trent Alexander-Arnold pushing high into the box on the right. He strikes his shot crisply and cleanly, larruping it towards goal from 12 yards and Navas pulls off a fine save low to his right, catching it at the second attempt.
23 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Alert defending from Ramos mops up the ball when a ball from Roberston, spun up the left, gives Mane a 50-50 chance of getting in on goal. Back come Liverpool at pace down the left ...
21 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Real Madrid, weathering the storm so far but by the seat of their pants, are keen to deflate the tempo a little though they still look confident on the break. Milner gets a telling off for standing on Carvajal's foot as the right-back tried to get past him.
19 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Salah swings it in with his left and Navas is all over the place, swiping at thin air behind Van Dijk who easily beat him to it but not the ball that loops over him.
17 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Extraordinary backpass from Carvajal intended for Ramos is so wildly off target that Liverpool nab a cheap corner from the right.
15 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Ronaldo switches wings and is played in down the right by Carvajal's run and Casemiro's fine pass. He accelerates with electric verve and takes the shot on from an angle of about 340 degrees as Van Dijk cannily forces him wide. He absolutely belts his shot and it beats the crossbar by about six inches. He should have crossed, of course.
13 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool soft shoe through the Real Madrid box after Kroos' crude foul on Mane. Firmino can't get the ball from under his feet before Carvajal hacks it clear but the way Liverpool are pressing Real Madrid keeps them on the front foot and Real Madrid uncharacteristically prone to panic.
11 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
The first raid from Marcelo, linking up with Benzema and spurting past Milner down the inside-left channel. He advances to about 25 yards from goal and spears a low shot on the run past the far post.
9 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Varane doesn't clear adequately and back come Liverpool, hooking a cross towards Firmino whose deflected header bounces out to the right of the box where Alexander-Arnold and Salah are lurking and ready to pounce. Navas beats them to the knockdown. Very impressive start from Liverpool.
7 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Lovely work from Firmino who takes a pass 40 yards from goal, turns and laces a lovely pass that provokes panic and a scramble between Navas, Marcelo and Ramos to get it clear.
5 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool free-kick about 21 yards out on the left by the angle of the box after Salah was tripped. Salah takes it but Modric bursts out of the wall to block and leads the charge upfield. Isco catches Alexander-Arnold dawdling and knocks it past him but Karius is alert and sweeps up, 10 yards outside his area.
4 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool move it forward slickly and Salah again wriggles free to play in Wijnaldum with a cute pass and the Dutchman scuds a daisycutter shot at Varane.
3 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Alexander-Arnold has Ronaldo within breathing distance and the latter scoots down the left and works in a cross as Lovren backs off. Liverpool clear but Real Madrid and Cravajal launch it long back in to the box. Isco, offside, tries to connect with a flying scissors kick but Karius beats him to it.
1 min Real Madrid 0-0 Liverpool
Liverpool kick off to the strains of Allez x3. Milner knocks it back and Liverpool chip it up the inside-left channel. Varane sweeps round the back to mop up a Salah through ball intended for Mane and Real counter up the left. Lovren puts Ronaldo on his backside and the ball into touch.
Ronaldo gives Salah a look
An almost perfect Paddington Bear stare in the tunnel from the Real No7 to the Liverpool No11.
Are you ready?
Cue the music:
♫ Die Meister
Les Grandes Équipes
The Champions ♫
Jurgen Klopp speaks
It will be very tense. We didn't speak about [a fast start] we always do that. We don't need an early start and 1-0 after two minutes because it won't make them unstable. We need a solid start. Probably their bench could qualify for the final but it's 11 v 11, we are happy to be here. Now let's go out there and play.
They're singing that song from Carousel
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 26, 2018
Roberto Carlos is in the house
As are scores of Liverpool banners. They love a banner, Liverpool, ever since the days of Joey Jones and the Swiss Roll ...
Didn't even manage to nab a new suit out of getting here. Very poor player pool etiquette there:
The teams in black and white
Real Madrid Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric; Isco, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema.
Substitutes Kiko Casilla, Nacho, Theo Hernandez, Mateo Kovacic, Lucas Vazquez, Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio.
Liverpool Loris Karius; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson; Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, James Milner; Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane.
Substitutes Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Alberto Moreno, Ragnar Kalavan, Emre Can, Adam Lallana, Dominic Solanke.
Referee Milorad Mazic (Serbia)
Himself has arrived
He has been a winner in 2008, 2014, 2016 and 2017 and a runner-up in 2009. He has scored 121 Champions League goals, four in finals plus a match-winning shoot-out penalty in 2016.
Real Madrid line-up confirmed
— Real Madrid C.F.�������� (@realmadriden) May 26, 2018
Liverpool line-up confirmed
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 26, 2018
Real Madrid likely line-up
We think Liverpool's will be as predicted, and so will Real Madrid's with their diamond midfield and Gareth Bale as the £90m impact sub:
Real Madrid likely XI Navas, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Isco, Ronaldo, Benzema.
They were absolutely terrible at home against Juventus and Bayern Munich for about an hour of each game but got the job done in the first leg. Their performances can be infuriatingly inconsistent, with flaws and flamboyance. But they are winners.
Speaking of Alan Kennedy
Here's his goal from 1981
Here are his memories of that day, as told to Chris Bascombe:
“It’s funny to think back then because even though we were playing Real Madrid, we felt they were in awe of us more than we were them. It wasn’t a great game. Graeme Souness took a kick early on from Uli Stielike and played with injury, and Kenny Dalglish wasn’t fully fit.
“The pitch in Paris was also awful, one of the worst we ever played on and it was no place for a final. Even the organisation was shambolic. When we got to the ground Uefa told us we couldn’t wear our kit because we had a sponsors name ['Hitachi’] on it. We had to get out a spare and put sticking tape over the Umbro signs. We’re in the dressing room 20 minutes before kick-off checking each others logo! It was ridiculous, really. Madrid had some dangerous players but the longer the game went on the more we felt we’d win – and then the chance came my way.
“Bob Paisley’s advice to me was always to 'get around the outside of them’, and I’d had a couple of efforts before the goal. I always felt I could get a chance, which is a great thing to believe as a left-back. The winning penalty in Rome three years later was a more nerve-racking experience, but you just feel privileged to have played your part in that kind of success.”
And it's live!
BT Sport has begun its coverage by introducing us to three Champions League-winning captains who make up its studio punditry team: Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand. Frank and Rio have Benitez-esque barber shop quartet waistcoats on. Gerrard opts for a less ostentatiously Jacomo look. And BT will delight all of you who are subscription strangers to its prime product with Glenn Hoddle and Steve McManaman in the dual co-commentator role.
Some unofficial team news from Sky's Chris Kamara
If Kamara's deepthroat is accurate, Liverpool will send out the XI we thought would start.
Team news hot of the press Liverpool line up is
Liverpool: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Milner, Wijnaldum, Mane, Salah, Firmino.
Should be a cracker ��
— Chris Kamara (@chris_kammy) May 26, 2018
Songs to Learn & Sing
And welcome to live coverage of the 2018 Champions League final. Real Madrid, the most successful club in Europe, begin their quest for a 13th title at 7.45pm in Kiev while Liverpool, who delayed them getting their seventh for a further 17 years at Parc des Princes in 1981 when Alan Kennedy controlled Ray Kennedy's throw-in, drove through the air and thrashed that unstoppable riser past Agustín, are in pursuit of their sixth. Should Liverpool win today it would move them ahead of Bayern Munich and behind only Real and Milan in the history of this competition. A sixth may mess up the symmetry of those banners that recall victories in Rome (twice), London, Paris and Istanbul which look so striking with one giant trophy in the middle, flanked by two, but you'd have to be a proper Gompertz to worry about the aesthetics of any necessary redesign.
Logic makes Real Madrid the favourites to win a third consecutive European Cup and the first to a hat-trick of successive wins. They've got Cristiano Ronaldo, after all, who scored in the final for Manchester United 10 years ago to win his first and has won with Real in 2014, 2016 and 2017, as well as the impeccably elusive Isco, Sergio Ramos (captain, talisman, indomitable aerial predator), menacing marauder Marcelo et al.
But to counter that Liverpool have a front three whose movement is truly mesmerising and in Mo Salah, pushed high up the right, the perfect opponent to stop Marcelo orchestrating play, Andrew Robertson, who is enjoying a sensational debut season, Giorginio Wijnaldum who covers a multitude of sins further back, the smooth and increasingly impressive Virgil van Dijk and James Milner, the team's beating heart.
Contrasting styles bestow the promise of a classic - which 1981 decidedly wasn't. We've had some topsy-turvy thrillers and a few good halfs but not a pulsating, knife-edge competitive cracker for the full 90 minutes since perhaps 2002.
Stay with us for all the build-up, team news, melodrama and close harmony singing. We'll be smothered in a greetings-card shopful of sick-making inspirational quotes over the next few hours by TV, radio and Twitter as well as Bill and Bob's greatest hits. Let's pre-empt that game with something a bit mpre eloquent from the Liverpool laureate Pete Wylie:
Well did you ever hear of hope?
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
A small belief can mean
you'll never walk alone.
Can the power of six prove greater than 13? Join us as we find out.