Sport Liverpool’s high hopes dashed as Real Madrid claims European championship crown
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Liverpool’s high hopes dashed as Real Madrid claims European championship crown

Luka Modric of Real Madrid raises the trophy in triumph after putting Liverpool to the sword at Stade de France. Photo: Getty
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Real Madrid are European champions for a record14th time after beating Liverpool 1-0 in the Champions League final.

Brazilian winger Vinícius Júnior applied a close-range finish in the 59th minute from Federico Valverde’s drive across the face of goal, securing a Saturday night win in Paris that gave Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti a record fourth European Cup title.

While Madrid completed a Champions League-La Liga double, Liverpool finished a season that promised so much. Just a week ago they were in contention for an unprecedented quadruple of major trophies – with just the two domestic cups in England.

In a match that began 37 minutes late because of disturbing crowd issues outside the Stade de France, the English team couldn’t find a way past Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who tipped Sadio Mane’s first-half shot onto the post and produced an even better save to turn away Mohamed Salah’s effort in the 81st.

“Today nobody was going to get in my way,” Courtois said. “I was going to win a Champions League no matter what.”

Madrid underlined their status as the kings of European soccer, given the Spanish giant own double the number of European Cups as the No.2 on the list, AC Milan.

And this time, there was no need for the kind of stirring comeback that the Spanish giant had to produce in getting past Paris Saint-Germain, defending champion Chelsea and Manchester City in the knockout stage.

It might go down as the most grueling run to the title in the long history of the competition.

“I can’t believe it. We’ve had a fantastic season. We suffered a lot in the first half but in the end I think we deserved to win this competition,” Ancelotti said.

“I am the record man. I had the luck to come here last year and found as usual a fantastic club with a really good squad with a lot of quality and mental character.”

Klopp’s flop

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who has now lost three of his four Champions League finals, told streaming portal DAZN: “We lost and have to accept that. We will try again. We still played a great season.”

For many, especially Liverpool fans, pre-match crowd issues overshadowed this final, though, and are sure to be the focus of an investigation by UEFA and authorities in the coming days.

Riot police fired tear gas and pepper spray at supporters waiting in long lines to get into European soccer’s showpiece game, whose kickoff was delayed.

UEFA blamed the chaos on people trying to get into the stadium without legitimate tickets, without providing details on where they could be from.

“In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of fans who purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles,” UEFA said in a statement.

Some fans climbed fences surround the stadium to get in. Others barged their way past security and sprinted onto the concourse before getting wrestled to the ground.

Riot police with batons and riot shields ran from gate to gate to prevent pockets of fans forcing their way into the stadium.

The scenes were reminiscent of the chaos outside Wembley Stadium before the European Championship final last year between England and Italy.

– with AAP