Gareth Bale stunner downs Reds amid Loris Karius howlers

Jack Rosser
AFP/Getty Images

Gareth Bale scored one of the great Champions League goals as Real Madrid beat Liverpool to win the competition for the third consecutive time.

The Welshman did not start the final but beat Loris Karius with an overhead kick with one of his first touches before beating the goalkeeper from 40 yards as the Liverpool man suffered a two big howlers.

The first came earlier in the second half as his lax throw-out was easily intercepted by Karim Benzema. Sadio Mane equalised soon after but the night belonged to Bale.

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The Reds were dealt the most devastating of blows in the first half as Mohamed Salah left the pitch in tears following a shoulder injury.

(REUTERS)

Closely following the Egyptian, and also with tears in his eyes, was Real Madrid’s Dani Carvajal who had to endure the same fate in the Cardiff final a year ago.

Having been pegged back before injuries broke up the first half, Madrid settled and soon had the ball in the back of the net through Benzema, only for the linesman’s flag to deny the Frenchman.

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The opening goal was far from befitting of the biggest game in club football. Minutes into the second half, having gathered the ball with ease, Karius rolled it straight into the path of the onrushing Benzema, who embarrassed Sven Ulreich in similar fashion in the semi-final, and watched as it found the back of the net.

(REUTERS)

Without Salah things looked tough for Klopp’s side. However, just four minutes later they were level when, after a canny corner caught the holders out, Dejan Lovren headed into the path of Mane, to poke home for the equaliser.

Having been in fine form ahead of the final, Bale would’ve been devastated to have been left on the bench.

However, replacing Isco, it did not take him long to make his mark on the game, and footballing history.

(AFP/Getty Images)

After Marcelo clipped the ball in from the left, the Welshman dispatched a stunning bicycle kick into the top corner, more than outdoing Ronaldo’s effort from the quarter-final.

The former Southampton man’s stunner had ensured Karius’ error would avoid the headlines come the morning, however, like London buses along came another blunder.

With Liverpool struggling to find a way through, Bale hit a speculative effort from range, with Karius letting it slip through his hands.

He should not be the story though. Having been on the fringes of Zidane’s side for the majority of the season, Bale took his moment on the biggest stage, making history for his manager and winning a fourth European Cup for himself so in fitting style.

Key Opta Stats:

  • Real Madrid have become the first team to win the European Cup/Champions League in three successive seasons since Bayern Munich between 1974 and 1976.
  • English teams have suffered a defeat in their last seven UEFA club competition finals against Spanish opposition (4 x Champions League Finals, 3 x UEFA Cup/Europa League finals).
  • Zinedine Zidane is just the third manager to win the European Cup/Champions League three times (after Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti), but the first to win it in three consecutive seasons.
  • Jurgen Klopp has now lost six of his seven major finals as manager (2 x DFB-Pokal, 2 x Champions League, 1 x League Cup, 1 x UEFA Europa League), only winning the DFB-Pokal with Borussia Dortmund in 2012.
  • Real Madrid started with the same XI as in the 2016-17 Champions League final; the first time a team has started with the same 11 players in different European Cup/Champions League finals (excl. replays).
  • Liverpool’s starting XI was the youngest (26 y 170 d) in a Champions League final since Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund in 2013 (25 y 255 d).
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold became only the third English teenager to start a European Cup/Champions League final, after Brian Kidd in 1968 and Gary Mills in 1980.
  • Gareth Bale scored just two minutes and two seconds after coming off the bench. It was the second-fastest ever by a substitute in a Champions League final, after Lars Ricken for Borussia Dortmund against Juventus in 1997.
  • Gareth Bale is the first player ever to come on as a substitute and score twice in a European Cup/ Champions League final.
  • Bale is also only the second British player to score a brace in a European Cup/Champions League final after Bobby Charlton for Manchester United in 1968.
  • Loris Karius made more errors leading to goals in the final against Real Madrid (2) than he did in his previous 32 competitive appearance for Liverpool this season in 2017-18.
  • Karim Benzema has scored four goals against Liverpool in the Champions League; no player has managed more (also four for Didier Drogba).
  • Liverpool became the first team in history to see three players score 10+ goals in a single Champions League season (Salah 10, Firmino 10, Mané 10).
  • Sadio Mané is only the fourth African player to score in a European Cup/ Champions League final and the first since Didier Drogba for Chelsea v Bayern Munich in 2012. The other two were by Samuel Eto’o for Barcelona in both 2009 & 2006, and Rabah Madjer for Porto in 1987.
  • Sadio Mané became the third Liverpool player to score 20+ goals in all competitions this season (Salah 44 goals and Firmino 27 goals); the last time that three players hit the 20-goal mark for the club in a single campagn was 1981/82 (Dalglish, McDermott and Rush).
  • Sadio Mané needed only 11 appearances to hit 10 Champions League goals, a joint-record in the competition along with Roberto Firmino and Adriano.