Real Madrid won the European Cup for a 10th time last night, after scoring three goals in extra-time to beat city rivals Atletico 4-1 at the Estadio de Luz.
Gareth Bale, Marcelo and a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty eventually wrapped up Real’s first UEFA Champions League victory in 12 years, after Sergio Ramos’ injury-time equaliser had cancelled out Diego Godin’s first-half header in Lisbon.
The scoreline didn’t tell the story though in a very evenly-matched encounter, but three goals in the final 10 minutes of extra-time demonstrated Real’s slight superiority and Atletico’s frustration saw manager Diego Simeone sent off in the closing stages.
History has also been made by Carlo Ancelotti who has become the first manager to win the tournament three times in the modern era, having guided Milan to titles in 2003 and 2007, and the second overall after Liverpool’s Bob Paisley in 1981.
Atletico’s star man Diego Costa had been passed fit and started for Diego Simeone’s men, but his final lasted only nine minutes after he was unable to continue and was replaced by Adrian Lopez.
After a well-balanced start to the game, Bale had the first real chance of the game on 32 minutes. The Welshman intercepted a stray cross-field ball and burst into the penalty area, but under pressure from the defence could only shoot off target.
The breakthrough came four minutes later for the newly-crowned La Liga champions. Godin proved to be the title winner with his header at the Nou Camp last weekend, and he was on target on the big occasion once more. Juanfran headed a cleared corner back into the penalty area and the Uruguayan rose highest in the area to loop a header over the onrushing Iker Casillas, and the ball was over the line before the Real skipper scrambled back to claw away to the feet of David Villa who put it in to make certain.
Casillas came on as a substitute in 2002 for Real’s last continental victory and while he made some crucial saves to keep Bayer Leverkusen at bay, he endured a fairly quiet second half this time around as his team mates pressed for the equaliser.
Ronaldo saw a deflected free-kick well pushed away by Thibaut Courtois and Bale twice shot wide from good positions, as Atletico were providing a typically stubborn resistance in defence as the clock ticked down towards a potential maiden Champions League crown.
But Simeone’s men’s hearts were broken in the third of five stoppage-time minutes. Ramos netted two powerful headers in the semi-final romp of defending champions Bayern Munich and his head was once again in the right place at the right time to brilliantly steer home Luka Modric’s corner and take the game into extra-time.
Bale had endured a fairly disappointing occasion with his final product not quite been there but as in the Copa del Ray final last month, it arrived for the £86m when it was needed the most. He was on hand in the 110th minute to nod home at the far post, after Courtois could only parry Angel Di Maria’s clever burst and shot from the left-hand side across the area.
Atletico’s heads dropped then and substitute Marcelo was given too much space to burst into, and his shot from the edge of the area was far too hot for Courtois to handle.
Los Galacticos put the icing on the cake in the final minute when Ronaldo got himself on the score sheet from the penalty spot after being brought down by Atleti captain Gabi.
It took the Portuguese maestro’s tally in this year’s competition to an incredible 17 and was his 68th in total, as he moved just three behind former Real forward Raul’s record of 71.
Simeone had shown calmness and appeared to be displaying a brave face in defeat, but his frustrations eventually boiled over and his dignity was called into question when he spontaneously rushed onto the pitch to confront Raphael Varane in the aftermath of the goal. The Argentine was eventually sent off by referee Bjorn Kuipers and had to be ushered from the pitch by his players and staff.
That did nothing to halt the celebrations of Real though – a perfect 10th European victory after a 12-year wait - and Casillas lifted the trophy to add to his hoard which includes the 2008 and 2012 UEFA European Championships as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup.