Champions League final: Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 to claim 14th title

Champions League final: Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 to claim 14th title
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Vinicius Junior scored just before the hour with Real Madrid's first attempt on goal and their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made several fine saves, including of shots from Mo Salah, to deny Liverpool.
Liverpool's Mo Salah (pictured) was denied by Real Madrid's goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois [Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty]

Real Madrid secured a record-extending 14th European Cup when they beat Liverpool 1-0 in a Champions League final that saw a controversial, more than half-hour-long delay after police used tear gas and tried to stop people attempting to force their way into the Stade de France on Saturday.

Vinicius Junior scored just before the hour with Real's first attempt on goal and their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made several fine saves to deny Liverpool, who end the season with two domestic cups having also failed to win the Premier League.

In a battle of European heavyweights held near Paris, Juergen Klopp's side had more chances but lacked sharpness when it mattered as Carlo Ancelotti became the first coach to enjoy four European Cup triumphs, having won the trophy with AC Milan and Real twice, leapfrogging Liverpool's Bob Paisley and Real's Zinedine Zidane.

"I am a record man. I had luck to come here last year and have a fantastic season. A fantastic club, a really good squad with a lot of quality and mental character," said Ancelotti of a team who came from behind against Paris St Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City to reach the final.

It was LaLiga title holders Real's fourth Champions League crown in seven years as they improved their impressive record in the competition with their eighth victory in as many finals.

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The final was to be played in St Petersburg but European football governing body UEFA relocated it to France after Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine.

The game started after a 35-minute delay following incidents outside the stadium.

Police fired tear gas after several dozen people attempted to climb over barriers, according to an AFP reporter on the scene, with security staff having to round up about 20 fans who succeeded in clearing the fence and getting into the ground.

Thousands of supporters were still massed outside the stadium with half an hour to go to kick-off.

UEFA blamed "fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles" for the delay, saying French police had fired tear gas to disperse thousands of frustrated fans who were building up outside the Stade de France as a result.

The governing body said it was "sympathetic" to the fans affected and would review the situation together with local police and authorities, as well as the French Football Federation.

Some of the supporters with valid tickets did not get into the ground until the end of the first half.

However, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin pointed the finger squarely at the Liverpool fans.

"Thousands of British 'supporters' either without tickets or with fake ones forced their way through and sometimes behaved violently towards the stewards," he tweeted.

But Liverpool heavily criticised the treatment of their supporters.

"We are hugely disappointed at the stadium entry issues and breakdown of the security perimeter that Liverpool fans faced this evening at Stade de France," the English club said in a statement.

"This is the greatest match in European football and supporters should not have to experience the scenes we have witnessed tonight.

"We have officially requested a formal investigation into the causes of these unacceptable issues."

Liverpool fans were incensed at what happened, including Pete Blades, who said he had felt he was revisiting the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, which cost the lives of 97 Liverpool fans.

"I'm really stressed, I'm a teacher, I never got pepper sprayed," Blades told AFP after the match.

"I haven't done anything wrong, I'm not a threat. The police pushed me at the door, that wasn't necessary, a girl's nose was bleeding. They were expecting an army against them.

"I was at the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 and today it was exactly the same. They opened and shut the gates.

"I'm so angry. France has let itself down," the 57-year-old added.

Football Supporters Europe, a lobby group, said fans were not to blame for the "fiasco" at the Stade de France, while Kelly Cates, the daughter of Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish, described the pre-match scenes outside the ground as "absolutely shambolic".

Nearly 7,000 police were deployed for the event to deal with between 30,000 and 40,000 Liverpool fans thought to have travelled to Paris without tickets.

A fan zone with a capacity of 44,000 was set up for them on an avenue in the east of the French capital.

French police said early Sunday they had arrested a ticket tout who had been selling around 50 fake tickets near the Liverpool fan zone.

Liverpool had won the previous European Cup final both teams had played in Paris, winning 1-0 at the Parc des Princes in 1981, which was Real's last defeat in a final.

Liverpool were the slight favourites on Saturday but Real beat the Merseyside club for the second time in a row after their 3-1 victory in 2018.

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Liverpool started the game by pushing high up the pitch, looking to quickly feed their full backs, and the pressure on the Real back line became immense.

Mo Salah was picked out by Trent Alexander-Arnold in the box but Courtois stretched to deny the Egyptian.

Sadio Mané came much closer when he ghosted past Eder Militao and Casemiro before his fierce attempt was tipped onto the post by the excellent Courtois in the 21st minute.

Liverpool, however, were not incisive enough in attack and Real's only chance of the first half gave Liverpool a huge scare but Karim Benzema's effort was ruled out after the Video Assistant Referee ruled that he was offside, being played in by Federico Valverde despite Fabinho's deflection.

Liverpool were back at it early in the second half but Real soaked up the pressure until they struck in the 59th minute.

It started when Luka Modric turned smartly away from Andy Robertson to create space and ended with Valverde's pinpoint driven pass across to the far post being turned in by Vinicius.

Courtois then dived to superbly tip Salah's curled attempt away to keep Real ahead.

The Belgian keeper was impeccable again to deny Salah 10 minutes from time before his delighted team mates jumped into his arms to show their gratitude at the final whistle.

(Reuters, AFP)