Real Madrid defeated Liverpool 1-0 to win the UEFA Champions League, the Spanish club’s 14th European title. Here are the top talking points from the end of the game.
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1st Courtois is key to Carlos 4th crown
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti rewrote the Champions League history books as Vinicius Junior’s second-half goal secured a 1-0 win over Liverpool in Paris to secure a record 14th win for Real and Ancelotti as their first manager to make, who won four European Cups.
But while Vinicius’ goal was the defining moment, Real owed their victory to goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who made a number of crucial saves throughout the game. The former Chelsea goalkeeper fended off the efforts of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in the early stages, pushing a Mane shot to the post as Liverpool tried to capitalize on a brilliant start to the game. Courtois continued his heroic performance in the second half, before and after his team’s breakthrough goal to seal a convincing case for the Man of the Match award.
By winning that game, Real avenged their 1981 European Cup final defeat to Liverpool in the French capital and also extended their incredible track record in the competition. Real’s 14 European victories is twice as many as AC Milan, who are second in the rankings with seven titles. Liverpool remain in sixth place, having last won the competition in 2019. And Ancelotti now sits ahead of Liverpool’s Bob Paisley and Real’s Zinedine Zidane as the most successful manager, winning it for a fourth time. The Italian won two with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007 before adding two more with Real in 2014 and now in 2022.
2. Vinicius exposes Alexander-Arnold’s shortcomings
The decisive duel in this game was always the fight between Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold and Reals Vinicius. Last season, the Brazil international beat the English defender in the quarter-finals and emerged victorious again on Saturday, scoring the winning goal.
Alexander-Arnold’s defensive weaknesses are the main reason he is no longer Gareth Southgate’s first-choice right-back for England, but Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp remains very loyal to his player because of the attacking qualities he brings to the team. Only Salah has provided more assists than Alexander-Arnold in the Premier League this season and his athleticism down the right flank makes him a formidable opponent for the vast majority of teams he faces. But when faced with a winger of Vinicius’ speed and finishing power, Alexander-Arnold’s determination to go forward can become a major weakness.
At the Stade de France, the two players fought an evenly matched battle until the game-changing moment. When Federico Valverde crossed into the box, he found Vinicius free at the far post. And he was unmarked because Alexander-Arnold lost his man at the crucial moment, allowing the 21-year-old to find space to capture the cross and score past Alisson.
Alexander-Arnold lost Vinicius again shortly after, releasing him on the halfway line, but this time the Real man didn’t take advantage. At the big moment, however, Vinicius delivered.
3. Liverpool’s ‘Quad’ talk ends with whimpers
Just two weeks ago, Liverpool were on their way to making history by lifting four unprecedented trophies in the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup. Now the quadruple has become a domestic double, with Klopp’s team falling behind in the two major competitions.
Manchester City’s dramatic late comeback against Aston Villa last Sunday as they reversed a 2-0 deficit in the final 15 minutes to win 3-2 denied Liverpool the title on the final day of the league season. And the result left Liverpool without their seventh European Cup on Saturday. So how can we judge a season that promised so much but ultimately ended in disappointment?
Any team that wins two major trophies would normally be happy with their haul, but when you come so close in the biggest competitions but end up empty-handed, disappointment at Anfield is inevitable. But it was still a great achievement to be so close to something no other club has been able to do. When Manchester United won the treble in 1999 it seemed like the ultimate pinnacle, but Liverpool were just two games away from surpassing that achievement.
They missed out this time but with Liverpool and City getting stronger season after season it seems only a matter of time before one of them makes the quadruple.