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    Champions League Final 2018: Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool Match Report

    Real Madrid were crowned European champions for a record-extending 13th time on Saturday after two goals from Gareth Bale helped to see-off the brave challenge of Liverpool in Kiev.

    The Welshman scored one of the greatest goals in Champions League history to steer the final in his side's favour, just three minutes after he had replaced Isco as a second-half substitute.

    The goals ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, as Karim Benzema's opener and Bale's second of the match, which sealed the victory, were both the result of catastrophic goalkeeping errors from Liverpool stopper Loris Karius.

    Despite Madrid's second-half dominance, it was Jurgen Klopp's side who had posed the greater threat in the early stages, with Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino all causing the opposition defence problems due to their pace and clever movement.

    The Reds were unable to create any clear-cut opportunities, however, whereas Cristiano Ronaldo went close for the holders when he fired over the bar from eight yards out following a clever pass from Dani Carvajal.

    The turning point in the match proved to be an unfortunate shoulder injury sustained by Salah inside the opening 30 minutes following a challenge with Sergio Ramos, which forced the 44-goal marksman to be substituted.

    The loss of Salah seemed to destabilise the momentum that Liverpool had built-up, with substitute Adam Lallana unable to pose the same level of threat that Salah had offered and Mane proving to be less effective on the right flank.

    Madrid, who ended the half strongly, were unfortunate not to take the lead three minutes before the break when a Cristiano Ronaldo header was saved at full-stretch by Karius, while an offside Benzema converted the rebound but to no avail.

    It would prove to be a disastrous night for Karius, however, as a grateful Benzema was on hand to stroke the ball into an empty net when he successfully intercepted a clearance from the German that was intended for Dejan Lovren

    Liverpool, to their immense credit, managed to put the shock behind them within four minutes, when James Milner's lofted corner was headed into the danger zone by Lovren and a stretching Mane was first to react as he fired past Kaylor Navas.
    Zinedine Zidane then decided to unleash Gareth Bale into the final just six minutes after Madrid's lead had been cancelled-out, with the 28-year-old replacing Isco to devastating effect as the Spanish team sought to gain the upper-hand in proceedings.
    Madrid's record-signing duly produced an audacious overhead kick from Marcelo's floated cross, which flew into the net past an unsuspecting Karius who was only able to grasp thin air and look-on in amazement.
    Although there was nothing Karius could do to prevent Bale from scoring one of the greatest ever Champions League goals, he was most certainly culpable for what would emerge later in the half as Liverpool tried to find an elusive equaliser.

    Although there was a small degree of deviation on the ball, the German allowed a speculative strike from Bale, from 30 yards out, to slip through his grasp to give the holders an unassailable 3-1 lead.
    It proved too much for The Reds to overturn as Real Madrid celebrated a record-extending 13th European title, while they became the first team to win the competition for a third successive season since Bayern Munich lifted the trophy in 1976.

    Although Liverpool played their part in a thrilling final, they will be left wondering what might have materialized had Salah stayed on the field on a night that will be remembered for the brilliance of Bale and the calamities of Karius.
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    Item Reviewed: Champions League Final 2018: Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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