No matter how dangerous the situation is, no matter how likely victory may appear, the team in white always seems to find a way to win.
But tonight, unfortunately, was marred by security issues outside the stadium, which led to fans climbing the gates and targeting others with tear gas in scenes that will be talked about for days to come.
Things weren’t very nice most of the time. White shirts seemed to be constantly strewn across the penalty area as they desperately tried to fend off wave after wave of Liverpool’s attacks.
Chances were few and far between for Carlo Ancelotti’s team, but she only needed one. Vinicius Junior seemed unchecked in the far corner after the hour, returning Federico Valverde’s low cross and ensuring a 1-0 win and Real’s 14th European crown.
The Real Nacho defender described what his side did in the Champions League knockout stages as “magic” and many wondered if such unlikely escapes were possible outside the Bernabéu.
But real doubt is on your responsibility. This team always has one more trick up their sleeve.
When the full-time whistle blew, the Real Madrid bench blew off and emptied onto the pitch. Gleefully beside themselves, some players sank to the ground and others ran to share the moment with their fans.
It has been another night of trials and tribulations for Real Madrid in this season’s Champions League, but there is not much anyone can do – even the great Liverpool team – when Los Blancos You seem to have a date with fate.
Ancelotti summed it up, perhaps as anyone would hope. “This club is special,” he said.
Ugly scenes before the match
Real Madrid fans filled the end of the stadium almost completely over an hour before kick-off, and gave their players a standing ovation as they came out of the tunnel to get ready.
It took a long time before Liverpool fans crept to the ground, but those who took their seats sang the red-clad men in a hushed ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as the warm-up ended.
The atmosphere generated by both sets of fans was spine-tingling and there was electricity in the air meant only for these kinds of occasions.
However, kick-off was delayed by more than 35 minutes due to the hateful scenes outside the stadium, with many fans unable to enter and tear gas being used by the authorities.
Some people were seen climbing closed gates to make their way to the ground where a dangerous bottleneck formed around a certain entry point.
The European Football Association, UEFA, issued a statement saying that “the turnstiles at the end of Liverpool have been blocked by thousands of fans who bought fake tickets that do not work at the gates.”
She added, “As the numbers outside the stadium continued to increase after the kick-off, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium.”
“UEFA sympathizes with those affected by these events and will review these matters urgently with the French police and authorities, and with the French Football Federation.”
A spokesman for the Paris police said: “People without tickets pushed the barriers and tried to enter the stadium to watch the match. These attempts created crowd movements.”
But many fans with tickets say they were denied entry to the stadium in crowded places.
Liverpool said in a statement that it was “deeply disappointed” by the issues outside the stadium and called for an official investigation.
“I haven’t been able to speak to my family yet, but I know families have had a real struggle to get into the stadium,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said after the match.
“I’ve heard some things that weren’t good, they were obviously very difficult but I don’t know more about them.”
The length of the delay meant that both teams had to reappear for the second warm-up before the match started.
With both groups of fans preparing for the original 9pm kick-off time – and no on-court update until fifteen minutes later – there was palpable tension in the air with many confused conversations between fans.
But the appearance of FIFA President Gianni Infantino on the big screens stunned the crowd, with boos and mockery resounding from the entire stadium.
When singer Camila Cabello finally started the pre-match entertainment about half an hour after the start of the match, fans of both teams took turns singing her, which was barely audible on Real’s song Ole, Ole, Ole. And Liverpool Alize, Alice, Alize.
The delay had clearly taken its toll on the players, as both teams struggled to find any kind of rhythm in the early stages. Passes were lost, passes were skewed and both sides struggled to find any breakthrough in the opponent’s territory.
When the first chance finally came more than 15 minutes into the match, it was thanks to superb individual action from Trent Alexander-Arnold, who slashed his way past two Real’s defenders before knocking out a low cross in the penalty area.
Mo Salah was there to meet him, but he arrived at his feet somewhat awkwardly and Thibaut Courtois was his equal. Salah’s second chance came shortly after, but this opportunity hit the Real Madrid goalkeeper directly.
It was the first time either team had been able to put any sustained pressure on the other, and soon Liverpool fans began groaning again as Alexander-Arnold slashed high over the bar when well positioned inside the penalty area.
After more than five minutes of continuous waves of red shirts hitting Real’s defence, Sadio Mane thought he had found Courtois’ first goal only to improbably manage to smash his shot into the post.
It’s a testament to how amazing the save was as most of the Liverpool fans at the other end of the pitch had already started to celebrate in anticipation of the net shock.
At this point, after almost 30 minutes, the best Real could muster was a cross from Vinicius that looked for a split second as if it could cause Alisson to pose a problem in Liverpool’s goal.
A clear pattern now appears. Those in white were laid in half, irritated and unable to escape Liverpool’s attack.
Real Madrid fans, to their credit, continued to chant and wave their flags and scarves in an attempt to breathe life into their struggling team. They had the best seats in the house to witness a near-perfect first half for Liverpool, but luckily for them the one thing they didn’t see up close was the goal.
Then, out of nowhere, Carlo Ancelotti’s side looked completely ahead of the game. After bouncing the ball around the penalty area, Benzema pounced to curl the ball into the net under Alisson, only to see his goal immediately ruled out from the assistant referee’s flag.
What initially appeared to be an easy offside decision ended up taking what looked like Omar to confirm, as VAR officials struggled to determine if the initial ball had come off a Liverpool player.
In the end, after a nerve-wracking wait, those in red celebrated boisterously as the offside decision was confirmed. It was an appropriately tense ending to what had been a captivating first half.
overrules the real
There was a familiarity with the way the second half began, as Liverpool kept the pressure on a Real Madrid side that quickly seemed to be sinking under the weight of the occasion.
It was a strange sight. After all, this is the team that made its name in this competition, constantly rewriting record books and extracting the seemingly impossible.
Then the goal came. It was the opposite of playing, yes, and it seems that Liverpool are the only team that will score in the opening hour, but in truth, that goal is still inevitable. It always happens when Real Madrid plays.
Valverde found himself in space on the right flank and made a thrilling low pass across the face of the goal, with Vinicius on hand at the far corner to shove the ball into the empty net.
Cue the nonsense. The concrete stairs inside the Stade de France began to tremble as Real Madrid fans celebrated for nearly five minutes. Several torches were fired as that end of the stadium began to glow red and smoke filled the cool Parisian air.
Salah did his best to drag Liverpool to the level of the opponent, cutting inside the goal and bending a superb shot towards the far post, but Courtois once again managed to push it away with a full extension.
Courtois saves Real Madrid
Vinicius will be praised for his winning goal, but when the dust settles, Courtois will be spoken of as one of the greatest goalkeepers ever in the Champions League final.
As the clock ticked, Salah once again kept away, this time moving the ball back for a corner kick as Al Masry’s shot darted into the far corner.
After the match, Klopp said: “When the goalkeeper is the best player in the match, something goes wrong for the other team. In the last third we could have done better.”
With every opportunity wasted, the inevitability of Real Madrid’s victory grew. Real fans felt it. So did Liverpool.
Although Klopp’s side kept pressing until the end, the celebrations had already begun for the Real Madrid fans. The outpouring of joy when the full-time whistle went off was greatly tinged with relief – these fans know what an ordeal tonight has been.
Real Madrid shouldn’t have gone this far. Three times he stared defeated in the face during the campaign and three times he somehow got out the other side.
But once in Paris, there was probably no doubt that this would be the end result.
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