Betway

Liverpool were denied a seventh European crown as Real Madrid became kings of the continent once again thanks to Vinicius Junior’s strike in a Champions League final marred by chaos outside the Stade de France.

Paris stepped in as host after UEFA stripped St Petersburg of the showpiece following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but it did not provide a fitting host as European royalty went toe-to-toe in the biggest club match of the season.

Kick-off had to be delayed by 36 minutes due to substantial security issues outside the Stade de France, where Liverpool would be edged out 1-0 in a tense, engaging final settled by Real star Vinicius Jr.

Jurgen Klopp’s Reds were unable to find a response to the second-half strike as Carlo Ancelotti, managing a record fifth Champions League final just a year after leaving Everton, oversaw the Spanish giants’ 14th European Cup triumph.

It was a heartbreaking end to a memorable season for Liverpool, who won the Carabao Cup and FA Cup before being pipped to the Premier League title by a point and losing in the French capital.

An edgy opening flew by without either side creating a clear cut-chance, but Courtois was alert when Alexander-Arnold squared for off-balance Salah to get away an effort.

Real Madrid’s goalkeeper denied more straightforward shots from the Thiago Alcantara and the Egypt international but had to be at his best to stop Mane landing a 21st-minute blow.

Showing great skill and poise, the 30-year-old beat two players and made space to get away a low snapshot that Courtois stretched to tip onto the post.

Madrid settled after that scare and seemed to pin their hopes on a moment of magic from Benzema or rapid Vinicius Jr racing behind.

Salah headed straight at Courtois and Jordan Henderson whistled wide as half-time approached, only for Real to find the net in the 43rd minute.

Benzema was put behind and cut past Andy Robertson, with Ibrahima Konate and Alisson getting in each other’s way when attempting to deal with the striker’s poor touch.

The second half began much like the opened period as the sides traded spells in possession without seriously threatening.

Alexander-Arnold was proving a handful on the right and Salah saw penalty appeals ignored as Liverpool fans’ chants began to fill the Parisian air.

But soon Real’s white wall were in raptures.

A move involving patient passing led Casemiro to play wide to Valverde on the right. The midfielder was afforded too much time and drove a cross to the far post, where Vinicius Jr had ghosted behind Alexander-Arnold and fired home.

It was a body blow that Liverpool tried to respond to, only for Courtois to prove an immovable object.

The Real goalkeeper stopped a curling 20-yard effort from Salah, who was soon seeing the Belgium international race across the face of goal to block a shot.

Alexander-Arnold drove a ball in as Liverpool desperately pushed, with substitute Diogo Jota almost diverting a Salah effort home. Courtois came to the rescue again.

Madrid’s defenders raced over to the goalkeeper in the 82nd minute when he somehow denied Salah, who controlled superbly before hitting a fizzing strike.

Play became stretched as Liverpool desperately hunted an equaliser that would evade them.

Source: SL

www.sports24ghana.com