Clinical Real Madrid down Liverpool to claim 14th European Cup

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Real Madrid secured a record-extending 14th European Cup when they beat Liverpool 1-0 in a Champions League final delayed for more than half an hour after Police tried to stop people trying to force their way into the Stade de France on Saturday.

Vinicius Junior scored just before the hour with Real’s first attempt on goal and their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made several fine saves to deny Liverpool, who end the season with two domestic cups having also failed to win the Premier League.

In a battle of European heavyweights, Juergen Klopp’s side had more chances but lacked sharpness when it mattered, as Carlo Ancelotti became the first coach to enjoy four European Cup triumphs having won the trophy with AC Milan and Real twice, leapfrogging Liverpool’s Bob Paisley and Real’s Zinedine Zidane.

“I am a record man. I had luck to come here last year and have a fantastic season. A fantastic club, a really good squad with a lot of quality and mental character,” said Ancelotti of a team who came from behind against Paris St Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City to reach the final.

It was LaLiga title holders Real’s fourth Champions League crown in seven years as they improved their impressive record in the competition with their eighth victory in as many finals.

Liverpool were looking for their seventh European Cup triumph, but despite their best efforts they were left in awe of Courtois’s sublime performance.

“In the dressing room nobody feels it was a great season at this moment,” said Liverpool Manager Juergen Klopp, whose team beat Chelsea on penalties in the FA Cup and League Cup. “We played a good game, not a perfect game, but I don’t think a perfect game would have been possible the way the opponent was set up with a deep formation.

“We had a lot of shots but not the clearest and Thibaut Courtois made two top saves.”

The final was to be played in St Petersburg, but European soccer governing body UEFA relocated it to Paris after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a ‘special operation’.

The game started after a 35-minute delay following incidents outside the stadium when fans were tear-gassed by Riot Police as people without tickets tried to force their way in. 

 Liverpool had won the previous European Cup final both teams had played in Paris, winning 1-0 at the Parc des Princes in 1981, which was Real›s last defeat in a final.

Liverpool were the slight favourites on Saturday, but Real beat the Merseyside club for the second time in a row after their 3-1 victory in 2018. (Reuters)