High drama in Paris
First of all – lots of difficulty for supporters accessing the stadium before the match. Long queues, and tales circulating of all sorts of incidents – of which we’ll hear much more I’m certain. Very unpleasant scenes outside, including the apparent use of tear gas and/or pepper spray by the authorities.
Just awful, for so many who were looking forward to an unforgettable night for all the best reasons.
As to the football – Liverpool started brightly, and Courtois was by far the busier goalkeeper. Mane looked primed for a key evening, but it wasn’t until around the 40 minute mark that Liverpool won their first corner.
Madrid eventually settled into the match, but Liverpool looked the most likely – until just before half-time, when Benzema scruffily netted after a melee in the Liverpool box. Offside was signalled – which a very lengthy VAR review confirmed – but the ricochet that presented the ball at Benzema’s feet gave rise to much speculation.
A typically tense affair was goalless at the interval, but those expecting the floodgates to open at some point still had hope. 0-0 at the break.
Lively start to the second-half, with lots of attacking intent. Too many star turns on the field, and indeed on the bench, for the drought to continue, surely?
59 minutes – calamity. A Valverde cross-shot from the right, and Vini Jr is left unattended at the far post to sweep it home. Real have taken the lead. Liverpool need to respond.
Great save from Courtois, by no means his first, as the Reds look to hit back. 65 mins – Jota replaces Diaz – a noted goalscorer who’d love to maintain that happy knack right now. Pressure from Liverpool is cranked up.
Possession stats are pretty even. The only really key stat at this point is that Liverpool trail 1-0. Real remain dangerous too, as both search for the crucial second score of the match.
Keita and Bobby Firmino enter the fray – muck or nettles time for Jurgen Klopp. Ten minutes only remain. Keita misses a crucial chance – and Courtois then thwarts Salah quite magnificently. He’s keeping the Reds at bay somehow.
Real break – Liverpool counter. It’s frenetic stuff. 5 minutes only remain, plus any stoppage time. Ancelotti is closing in on his fourth CL title – a record for a manager. There’s to be 5 additional minutes.
Rodrygo comes on for goalscorer Vini Jr – the man who instigated that amazing fightback in the second-leg semi against Manchester City. It’s Courtois who’s been the main difference between the sides tonight – he’s been absolutely outstanding.
Last seconds – Courtois again stands firm. It just wasn’t to be for Liverpool tonight – a valiant effort, a great season, but they couldn’t get past the giant Belgian.
Liverpool 0 Real Madrid 1
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