Sharing is caring!Facebook1Twitter0Google+0Pinterest0By the end he could barely walk. He looked as though he played half injured from his thigh strain...
By the end he could barely walk. He looked as though he played half injured from his thigh strain. He was some way from his best. And yet, come that final moment, when Real Madrid needed a penalty to be scored to win a record eleventh European Cup, it was, of course, inevitably Cristiano Ronaldo who stepped up.
Somehow, he is destined to dominate, even when not at his best. A season which has often been chaotic, haphazard and saw Rafa Benitez dismissed and a rookie coach appointed in Zinedine Zidane, ends in a historic achievement.
As for their cross city rivals, Atletico, it ends desperately again. In 1974 they came within minutes; in 2014, against Real Madrid, they came within seconds. Last night they came within a penalty kick of this trophy. Juanfran, so excellent in the game, was their fall guy hitting the post on Atletico’s fourth penalty, allowing Ronaldo his moment.
Forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his winning spotkick after a tense penalty shootout resulted in success for Real Madrid
Real Madrid have spent good parts of this season looking like a mal-adjusted collection of ego-centric multi-millionaires. On Saturday night, they actually started like a team; a good one at that.
True, they have come to appreciate that Casemiro is more than just an adornment to sit on the bench while James attends to the important business of selling shirts, but rather a vital part of the team who adds balance. And, having accepted that, then they have a midfield to overwhelm even the hard-working Atletico.
Opera singer Andrea Bocelli performs prior to the final and the Italian gave an unforgettable version of the Champions League anthem
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas; Carvajal (Danilo 51), Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos (Isco 72), Modric; Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema (Lucas 76).
Subs not used: Nacho, Rodriguez, Casilla, Jese
Goal: Ramos 15
Booked: Carvajal, Navas, Casemiro, Ramos, Danilo
Atletico Madrid (4-4-2): Oblak; Juanfran, Savic, Godin, Filipe Luis (Gomez 109); Saul, Gabi, Augusto (Carrasco 46), Koke (Thomas 116); Griezmann, Torres.
Subs not used: Moya, Mendes, Correa, Gimenez
Goal: Carrasco 79
Booked: Torres, Gabi
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
In addition, if Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo had worked all season as hard as they did on Saturday, they would have received just as much praise as Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar. In the opening thirty minutes of the game, they put on a performance which came close to that Barca trio at their best. And Bale was the busiest of them, grabbing hold of this final and imposing his presence like great players do.
He did so despite rather than because of a fellow Briton officiating. Mark Clattenburg let so much go in the opening exchanges that he was surrounded by Pepe and Sergio Ramos on pretty much a minute-by-minute basis as they requested yellow cards for their opponents. Ironically it was Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos who finally transgressed sufficiently for Clattenburg to reach for his notebook, with a cynical trip on Antoine Griezmann.
Unsurprisingly, given the level of physicality on both sides, free kicks were major features. Bale was brought crashing down by Gabi on seven minutes as he advanced determinedly. He then swung in a lovely free kick which Karim Benzema, from around four yards out, somehow managed to miss, though credit to Jan Oblak, who stood strong and parried the touch away.
No matter. On 15 minutes Kroos chipped in another free kick which Bale did well to flick on with a back header. The ball fell Ramos, three yards out, who just managed to touch the ball home, Oblak helpless this time. Diego Simeone’s ire though was rightly directed and Clattenburg and his assistants, Ramos having been offside.
Atleti threatened to be overwhelmed. Real Madrid looked to be in complete control, with Casemiro dictating tempo and Kroos and Luka Modric dominating midfield. Desperately Simeone gestured from the bench for his team to slow play down, catch their breath and come again. They did so, as the half drew to a close, edging their way back in and reminding their richer neighbours of their own qualities.
Brazilian full-back Marcelo was part of the Madrid side that beat their cross-town rivals two years ago in the 2014 Champions League final
Oblak managed to get down low to divert the midfielder’s effort away from goal but Real did not have to wait long for their opener
Ramos manages to get the all important touch on the ball to divert it beyond Oblak but the Spaniard did appear in an offside position
Ramos made it two goals in as many Champions League final appearances as the defender was once more the scourge of Atletico fans
Ramos pumps his fists in delight after breaking the deadlock at the San Siro much to the delight of his Real Madrid team-mates
The Atletico Madrid players look dejected as they try to pick themselves up following the early setback in the San Siro on Saturday night
Ramos latched on to Bale’s flick on after Kroos’ delivery but the defender was in an offside position – CLICK HERE for more match zone
Zidane will have been delighted with the manner in which his side took control of proceedings from the very first minute on Saturday
Real defender Pepe ensured Fernando Torres struggled to impose himself on the encounter in the first-half as Zidane’s side dominated
Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale rises above and Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke during a fiercely contest Champions League final
Diego Simeone will have been frustrated at failing to break down Real in the opening half and he had to find a different method of playing
Ronaldo lets fly with a speculative effort but the Portuguese forward was unable to find a third goal in Champions League finals
Mark Clattenburg was handed the honour of refereeing the final and he was kept busy by both teams putting in tasty challenges early on
Griezmann was by far the most dangerous player for Atletico in the first half but Luka Modric and his Real team-mates kept him at bay
Atletico Madrid defender Juanfran looks to shield the ball from Real striker Karim Benzema during an improved second-half performance
Filipe Luis found Gabi who chipped a wonderful pass into the path of Griezmann, whose volleyed first time, driving goal-wards but saw Keylor Navas equal to his striker, the Real Madrid keeper pushing it away on 36 minutes. Griezmann then went close on 43 minutes, shooting low and just past the post from outside the box. They were small encouragements but enough for Atleti to remind themselves of their past heroics.
And second half they immediately revived hope, Griezmann playing in Fernando Torres, who drew the challenge from Pepe. Clattenburg awarded the penalty, correctly. It wasn’t a bad foul; but it was a foul. Griezmann stepped up for the penalty. Keylor Navas was booked for trying to delay it. The Frenchman struck it hard and high. It struck the underside of the bar and bounced away to safety. It felt like a crushing blow.
And yet Atletico would come again, Greizmann shining despite his miss. They dominated possession for the next fifteen minutes of play. It was hard to break through Real Madrid’s lines, but Koke almost managed it on 58 minutes with a strike just wide. Then Yannick Carrasco, on a sub, broke down the right, pulled in a cross which Saul Niguez produced an acrobatic flick which almost beat Navas.
Torres – who failed to complete a single pass in the first half – earned his side a penalty early in the second period after Pepe’s foul
Navas was booked in the build-up to the penalty and the Costa Rican antics worked as Griezmann failed to keep his composure
Saul Niguez shoots at goal as Atletico made a good response to the setback of missing the penalty early on in the second half
Real Madrid soaked up the pressure at the start of the second period and Griezmann’s miss from 12 yards would prove costly to his team
Ronaldo arrived at the San Siro with his fitness questioned and the Portuguese had a quiet game suggesting he was not fully match fit
Bale impressed on the counter-attack for Real and the Welshman also tracked back to make decisive contributions throughout
Their fans never faltered, urging them on constantly, gradually growing in confidence that their equaliser would come. Yet on the break, Real Madrid were inevitably dangerous. Just past the hour, Modric picked out Benzema with a delightful pass. The Frenchman sprinted goal-wards and it felt as if a defining moment was coming.
He struck wel but Oblak, who had been excellent, was again equal to the shot, parrying away. On 78 minutes, Oblak was on hand to thwart a Ronaldo attempting an elaborate dummy when a straightforward finish would have done, while, from the rebound, Bale’s shot was cleared off the line.
From the counter, Atleti struck, a lovely lofted ball releasing Juanfran. He fired it across goal and Carrasco was racing in to slide it home from a few yards out in front of Atleti’s jubilant fans.
Karim Benzema ought to have put the game to bed when he shot straight at Oblak when put through by Luka Modric after 70 minutes
First Ronaldo and then Bale had chances to score a second for Zidane’s side and they were made to pay as 50 seconds later it was 1-1
Carrasco got in front of substitute Lucas Vazquez to fire home the equaliser as Real were made to pay for those missed opportunities
The midfielder joined his girlfriend Noemie Happart on the sidelines to celebrate his goal with a kiss as Atletico showed their resilience
Ramos was booked for a cynical challenge on Carrasco as the midfielder broke clear with options both sides of him late in the second half
Referee Clattenburg was hounded by the Atletico players after Ramos’ foul which resulted in captain Gabi being cautioned himself
Bale suffered from a severe bout of cramp and could hardly run during the closing stages in very humid conditions during extra time