Liverpool beaten by Real Madrid in Champions League final
Liverpool were beaten 1-0 by Real Madrid in Saturday’s Champions League final in Paris.
On their 10th appearance in the European Cup showpiece, the Reds made much of the running but a second-half strike by Vinicius Junior settled a close affair in Real’s favour.
Jürgen Klopp made three changes to his starting line-up, with Fabinho and Mohamed Salah restored to the XI and Thiago Alcantara fit again after the injury that forced him off last weekend.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Henderson (Keita, 77), Thiago (Firmino, 77), Diaz (Jota, 65), Salah, Mane.
Unused substitutes: Kelleher, Milner, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Minamino, Tsimikas, Matip, Elliott.
Kick-off at Stade de France was delayed by more than half an hour due to serious issues for Liverpool supporters outside the stadium trying to gain entrance.
When the action began, it was a cagey opening, though the Reds established control of possession and certainly offered the greater impetus going forward.
Indeed, with 16 minutes on the clock, Trent Alexander-Arnold made inroads as he moved off the right flank and sent a low delivery across the box. Salah directed the ball at goal but Thibaut Courtois reacted quickly low to his left to paw it away.
Salah drew another save from the Real goalkeeper a moment later, his rising strike clutched high in the air, before Courtois produced a sensational stop to deny Sadio Mane.
The Senegal international artfully moved in from the left and whacked an effort back across his body that was destined to find the corner until Courtois leapt to push it against the post and out.
Real’s counter-attacking capability was clear, however, with Carlo Ancelotti’s side seeking to spring Vinicius and Federico Valverde in behind whenever the chance arose.
But in a half short on genuine opportunities, they were largely Liverpool’s and Salah could only guide a header into the gloves of Courtois when picked out by Alexander-Arnold’s swirling cross.
Mane saw a near-post drive deflected behind and Jordan Henderson’s blast from the cleared corner sailed wide, before the Spanish outfit had the ball in the net.
Karim Benzema escaped in behind the Reds defence and as he shaped to set up a teammate, a scramble spun the ball back to him and he converted – but, it was decided by a lengthy VAR review, from an offside position.
The tense nature of the encounter continued beyond the interval with neither team able to truly open up their opponents’ defence as they passed and probed.
But Real did find a way through a minute shy of the hour mark.
Ancelotti’s charges swept play out to the right-hand side for Valverde and his fired cross-shot towards the far post reached Vinicius, who made no mistake with a finish past Alisson Becker.
Salah was close to a swift equaliser for the Reds with a trademark movement infield and curling shot that was on course to find the left corner, only for Courtois to punch away with another crucial save.
Klopp introduced Diogo Jota and then Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita from the bench and Liverpool began to camp themselves in Real territory in the quest to restore parity.
Courtois had again thwarted Salah as the No.11 pounced on Jota’s intelligent header back across goal, the ’keeper using his body to block his foe from yards out.
Salah showed brilliant footwork to create a shooting chance on 82, the Egyptian gliding past Ferland Mendy inside the area and rifling an attempt on the diagonal – but once more Courtois managed to divert off target.
And Real held firm in the closing stages to ensure the European crown was theirs for 2021-22.