After a night plagued by difficulties outside the ground that caused the kick-off to be delayed by over half an hour, Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 in the Champions League final in Paris on Saturday to become European champions for a record-extending 14th time.
In the 59th minute, Brazilian winger Vinicius turned in Fede Valverde’s enticing low cross at the Stade de France, and Liverpool were unable to produce an equaliser as Jurgen Klopp’s team lost their second Champions League final in five seasons.
The Reds will be left wondering what could have been if Thibaut Courtois had not pushed Sadio Mane’s drive onto the inside of a post when they were leading in the first half, as they fell short of a triple.
They won the English League Cup and FA Cup this season, but lost out to Manchester City for the Premier League title, and were denied a win here that would have tied them with AC Milan for the most European Cups with seven.
Instead, Carlo Ancelotti becomes the first coach to win European club football’s highest prize for a fourth time, as Real win their fifth Champions League in nine seasons to go with their Spanish title.
Ancelotti also led Real to the 2014 Champions League final, having previously won with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007, the latter against Liverpool.
Kick-off was already extended.
After congestion at the stadium entrances prevented supporters from getting to their seats, the match began 35 minutes later than scheduled at 9:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) in the French capital.
UEFA expressed its “sympathy” for those impacted, blaming the large crowds at the gates on “thousands of fans who had acquired bogus tickets that did not work in the turnstiles.”
As a small number of people were observed attempting to scale fences along the edge of the groud, police used tear gas.
After Saint-Petersburg was stripped of the game following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the final was shifted to Paris.
The delayed kick-off may have contributed to the game’s lethargic start, as it took 16 minutes for Mohamed Salah to turn a low Trent Alexander-Arnold cross towards goal, only for Courtois to save.
Liverpool were considered favorites to avenge their loss to Real Madrid in the 2018 Champions League final in Kyiv, and they quickly took control of the game.
In the 21st minute, Mane skipped his way into a shooting position inside the box, only for Courtois to tip his goal-bound attempt onto his right-hand post.
Klopp’s side were on top, with Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara starting in midfield after overcoming fitness concerns, but they were unable to convert their advantage into a lead.
Real, on the other hand, created absolutely nothing in the first half, with Karim Benzema remaining quiet, but their captain thought he had scored two minutes before the break.
After the ball broke back to him inside the box, the Frenchman prodded home, but the offside flag was raised.
Despite Fabinho deflecting Valverde’s touch through to Benzema, the goal was disallowed following a long VAR review.
As the hour mark came, though, Ancelotti’s team maintained their composure and were rewarded with a goal.
Valverde drove down the right flank before shooting a low ball across the face of goal for Vinicius to turn in at the far post past Alisson of the Brazilian national team.
Real had drew first blood, just as they did in 2018, but this time there was no need to send on Gareth Bale to ensure victory.
Courtois was outstanding, leaping to his right to prevent a Salah curler before making two rapid saves late in the game.
When substitute Diogo Jota redirected Salah’s shot towards goal, the Belgian got down low, and then he used a strong arm to turn a Salah strike behind.
The night belonged to Real Madrid.