Liverpool 0-1 Real Madrid: Vinicius Junior nets winner as Reds suffer Champions League final heartbreak

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Real Madrid capped a stunning Champions League campaign by beating Liverpool 1-0 in the final to secure European glory for a 14th time.

The LaLiga champions found themselves behind on aggregate late in the second-legs against all of PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City in the knockout stages this season, but on each occasion pulled off a comeback varying from ruthless to entirely astonishing.

For much of the final at the Stade de France, particularly in the first-half, they were once again under the cosh and managed to hold firm in the face of Liverpool pressure.

That allowed them to take the lead when Vinicius Junior finished just before the hour mark and while the Reds pushed, and threw on the likes of Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota, no equaliser came.

It means Liverpool’s season, which for so long looked like it could end with a quadruple, finishes with an FA Cup and Carabao Cup double and despite playing in every possible match, they will reflect on it with significant disappointment.

Kick-off was delayed for almost 40 minutes in Paris due to Liverpool fans struggling to get into the stadium in chaotic scenes. Police used pepper spray on those queuing to enter, with many missing the start of the match even after it was pushed back.

When proceedings did get underway, Liverpool were well on top as Real struggled to cope with the high pressing. Thibaut Courtois denied Mohamed Salah twice in as many minutes, before the Belgian produced a stunning save to tip Sadio Mane’s shot onto the inside of the post.

Salah then sent a header straight at Courtois as Liverpool proved unable to make their dominance count and it very nearly cost them just before the break when Karim Benzema had the ball in the back of the net.

The offside flag went up as the Frenchman peeled away in celebration and a long VAR check followed, with Benzema in an offside position but the final touch before it came to him coming off Fabinho. Eventually the decision to rule out the goal stood.

 (AP)
(AP)

Real were improved early in the second-half, even if Liverpool did have a number of shots blocked as Salah tried to force the issue in a match he spoke so much about in the build-up.

It was repeat rather than revenge though, as Real took the lead in a Champions League final against Liverpool. Federico Valverde was allowed to drive forward with the ball into the box, he dragged a shot across the face of goal and Vinicius Junior got in behind Trent Alexander-Arnold to have a tap-in at the back post.

Courtois was on top form for Real all night and he was called into action to deny Salah for a fourth time as the Egyptian cut in off the right wing and curled an effort towards the far corner, where the goalkeeper was waiting to palm it away. With 20 minutes remaining, Salah looked set to finish from a tight angle as Jota headed the ball to the back post but he found a familiar foe in his way once more.

Naby Keita, introduced with just over ten minutes to go, had a massive chance to draw his side level, but slices a terrible effort high and wide when free on the edge of the box. Seconds later it was Courtois vs Salah for a sixth time, and the Belgian extended his perfect record with another massive save.

Real saw the remaining minutes out like a side that had been there and done it before on so many occasions, making it five Champions League wins in the last nine seasons.

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