A Champions League final that will go down in history as a Thibaut Courtois masterpiece. The Red Devil has filled the last hole in his palmares himself with a phenomenal performance against Liverpool. Courtois kept Real straight with a handful of world saves. Vinicius scored the only goal on the hour, but a Belgian was the king of the championship ball.
Liverpool – Real Madrid in a nutshell
- Key moment: Thanks to Courtois’ miracles, Real Madrid only has to prick once. Just before half time, a goal by Benzema is still rejected for offside, but Vinicius’ 0-1 does withstand the control of the VAR.
- Man of the Match: You could suspect us of chauvinism in just about any other match, but not tonight. Thibaut Courtois drove Liverpool in general and Mo Salah in particular to despair with a series of incredible saves.
- Striking statistic: Courtois will be especially happy that he finally won the Champions League, but he also set two records. Nine saves in this final and a total of 59 in Real Madrid’s amazing campaign.
- Also striking: Thibaut Courtois is the first Belgian to win a Champions League final as a basic player. Eric Gerets did it for him as PSV captain when the tournament was still called the European Cup I.
Dominant Liverpool escape Benzema’s goal
Because the organization in Paris had trouble getting Liverpool fans into the Stade de France in time, the final started more than half an hour later. When the kick-off was finally given, it took a while before there was really something to see. On the fifteen minutes Courtois tapped a shot from Salah from the corner.
Liverpool built on that opportunity and a little later Courtois again stood in the way of Salah’s attempt. Real Madrid suddenly saw stars and thanked his goalkeeper for a first world save. Courtois hit a vicious shot from Mané just against the post. He had less trouble with a header from Salah.
Real’s scrambled to their feet and brushed the dust off their shirts. Alisson blocked Benzema’s way, but the ball again landed in front of the Frenchman’s foot, who put him in the net. Offside, it seemed. The VAR watched the images for minutes and confirmed: it remained 0-0. Valverde, Fabinho and Konaté all had a piece of leather with them.
“Vini” vidi vici, Courtois is superhero for Real Madrid
The second half did not change the game. Liverpool set the course, Real defended itself with all possible means and threw life and limb into the fray.
The goal of the Royal came unexpectedly. A sharp cross – or was it a failed shot? – van Valverde was run into goal at the far post by Vinicius, who was uncovered. Edge offside, but this time the goal did count.
Liverpool had to give everything in the last half hour. Courtois, however, was ready for whatever the Reds sent his way. First he spoiled the photographers with a gliding dive on a solid place ball from Salah. When Liverpool started playing with four attackers after the input of Jota and Firmino, it became even busier in front of him.
Keita, who also came in, chased a beckoning chance from just outside the box into the stands without a chance. Meanwhile, time was running out for Liverpool. Salah plucked a nice deep ball from the air, slid past Mendy and thought to ram the equalizer into the net. Courtois’ cast iron right arm, however, prevented the certain 1-1. The crown on the work of San Thibaut, who gave Real Madrid its fourteenth Cup with the Big Ears.