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Liverpool 0-1 Real Madrid: 5 talking points as Vinicius Junior's strike hands Los Blancos 14th crown | 2021-22 UEFA Champions League

Real Madrid are champions of Europe yet again
Real Madrid are champions of Europe yet again
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Real Madrid won a record-extending 14th UEFA Champions League title after a narrow 1-0 win over Liverpool at the Stade de France on Saturday, May 28.

A fascinating night of high-octane action was unfortunately dampened by a delay that lasted nearly 40 minutes. Fans reportedly faced difficulties while trying to enter the stadium and the kick-off was rescheduled as a result.

Vinicius Junior scored the decisive goal in the 59th minute after a wonderful cross from Federico Valverde. The main man for Carlo Ancelotti's side, though, was keeper Thibaut Courtois, who pulled off nine saves (including seven from shots in the box).

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool started the game very brightly but faded as the night went on. For all their dominance, the English giants lacked a cutting edge. They attempted a whopping 24 shots on the night, of which nine were on target.

In contrast, Real Madrid only had four shots in total, while just two were on target. Despite seeing less of the ball (46 percent of possession), Ancelotti's side made the most of their chances.

On that note, here are five talking points from a historic night at the Stade de France.


#5 Sadio Mane hits the post as Liverpool dominate the first half

Liverpool's Sadio Mane (L) grapples with Casemiro of Real Madrid
Liverpool's Sadio Mane (L) grapples with Casemiro of Real Madrid

The delayed start did not seem to affect Liverpool one bit, as the Reds came out firing on all cylinders.

Real Madrid found themselves under the cosh in the opening 20 minutes as Liverpool peppered Thibaut Courtois' goal. The Reds' front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and Luis Diaz were all heavily involved while the La Liga giants struggled to get out of their own half.

The sustained run of pressure culminated with Sadio Mane's snapshot from the edge of the box in the 21st minute. Courtois, however, was up to the task and clawed it onto the post.

The Reds finished the first half with 10 shots, of which five were on target. They also held a narrow edge in terms of possession, with 52 percent.


#4 Controversy erupts as VAR chalks off Karim Benzema's effort for offside

Despite having a goal ruled out, Karim Benzema (C) had the last laugh
Despite having a goal ruled out, Karim Benzema (C) had the last laugh

Despite all the drama prior to the kick-off, the most controversial incident of the night came on the pitch late in the first half.

With the clock winding down, Benzema found himself through on goal. Alisson did well to put the Frenchman off but a deflection saw the ball break for Benzema, who found the back of the net.

Fans and pundits were left bewildered as the goal was disallowed for an apparent offside. Replays, however, showed the ball had come off Fabinho, meaning Real Madrid had strong reason to feel hard-done by the decision.

How is that not a goal? I’m glad Peter Walton cleared it up for us 🤣The rule clearly doesn’t make sense because when would a Liverpool player ever intentionally play Benzema the ball ? 🤷🏻‍♂️The fact it’s come off a Liverpool player surely means it’s a Goal?

A lengthy VAR check saw the call stand, although a notable figure such as John Terry criticized the decision on Twitter.


#3 Vinicius Junior breaks the deadlock after mistakes from Liverpool's full-backs

Vinicius Junior celebrates his goal against Liverpool
Vinicius Junior celebrates his goal against Liverpool

Los Blancos didn't allow themselves to be bogged down by the disappointment of the earlier disallowed goal. Less than 15 minutes after the restart, Ancelotti's men grabbed the lead.

Federico Valverde was the architect, fizzing a low cross across the face of goal, where Vinicius made no mistake. Questions must be asked of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, though.

The English right-back's error was especially glaring as he fell asleep and allowed Vinicius to creep in behind at the back post. Robertson, meanwhile, was guilty of affording Valverde with too much time to look up and pick a killer pass.

Trent Alexander-Arnold said yesterday that Vinicius is a fantastic player to watch. Unfortunately for the Liverpool right-back, he didn't watch him closely enough there. #UCLfinal

It was Vinicius' fourth goal of the tournament and his 22nd of the campaign. The winger has also provided 20 assists while establishing himself as one of the best players in the world.


#2 Thibaut Courtois turns in arguably the best performance of his Real Madrid career

Thibaut Courtois celebrates after his stunning display
Thibaut Courtois celebrates after his stunning display

Although Vinicius soaked in the applause after scoring the decisive goal, there was no doubt about who the best player of the night was. Belgian shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois was simply sensational as he repeatedly thwarted the Reds.

While Real Madrid did defend well, Liverpool managed to fashion several good chances. Courtois, though, simply refused to be beaten. From deflected shots to vicious crosses, he was equal to any task.

'I don't think I have enough respect on my name, especially in England' - Thibaut Courtois🧤 Statistics in #UCLFinal v Liverpool:‣ Saves: 9‣ High claims: 2‣ Clearances: 1‣ Aerial duels won: 100%‣ Fouls won: 1🧱 A brick wall. Respect earned. https://t.co/ONANZG9mHv

Apart from the aforementioned denial of Mane in the first half, the pick of Courtois' saves was a superb stop in the second-half after Salah was through on goal.


#1 Real Madrid reign supreme in Europe while Liverpool settle for domestic cup double

Carlo Ancelotti cemented his status as one of the greatest managers to have graced the game
Carlo Ancelotti cemented his status as one of the greatest managers to have graced the game

Saturday's triumph saw Real Madrid clinch their 14th European crown. In the process, Los Blancos cemented their status as the greatest team in the history of Europe's most prestigious cup competition. They finished the 2021-22 campaign with a prestigious La Liga and Champions League double.

Carlo Ancelotti also established himself as the most successful manager in Champions League history with his fourth title. He has now won the tournament in five consecutive decades, including twice as a player with AC Milan (1989 and 1990).

After missing out on Premier League glory by the smallest of margins, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool suffered another heartbreak as a difficult week got worse. Earlier this month, the Reds were in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple.

Instead, they finished the season with a domestic cup double, having lifted the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup.


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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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