Match report as Vinicius Junior's goal secures victory for Real Madrid over Liverpool in the Champions League final; the game was delayed by more than half an hour after long delays and chaotic scenes for Liverpool fans entering the Stade de France
Sunday 29 May 2022 11:34, UK
Liverpool suffered Champions League heartbreak on a chaotic night in Paris as Vinicius Junior's second-half goal clinched the trophy for Real Madrid for the 14th time in their history.
Jurgen Klopp's side were hoping to avenge their 2018 Champions League final defeat to the Spanish giants in Kyiv but they could not find a leveller after going down 1-0 when Vinicius ghosted in at the far post to convert Federico Valverde's low cross (59).
The game's kick-off time had earlier been delayed by more than half an hour as organisational problems outside the Stade de France caused long delays and dangerous overcrowding for Liverpool supporters attempting to enter the ground.
Liverpool lost none of their focus despite the chaotic circumstances, creating a succession of chances and having 24 shots to Madrid's four, but they could not find a way past the outstanding Thibaut Courtois, who tipped a Sadio Mane effort onto the inside of the post in the first half and made a string of other excellent saves.
Liverpool were bidding to win the competition for the seventh time but the defeat ensures they miss out on a treble having won the Carabao Cup and FA Cup earlier this season, while Madrid, their run to the final characterised by a series of extraordinary comebacks, celebrate yet another European triumph.
Liverpool: Alisson (6), Alexander-Arnold (6), Konate (8), Van Dijk (6), Robertson (6), Thiago (7), Fabinho (6), Henderson (7), Diaz (6), Mane (6), Salah (6)
Subs: Jota (6), Keita (6), Firmino (6)
Real Madrid: Courtois (9), Carvajal (8), Militao (7), Alaba (7), Mendy (7), Casemiro (7), Kroos (6), Valverde (7), Modric (7), Vinicius (8), Benzema (7)
Subs: Camavinga (6), Ceballos (N/A), Rodrygo (N/A)
Man of the Match: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
A jubilant atmosphere had been building in Paris over the course of several days, with Liverpool fans gathering in the streets and squares of the city centre in their thousands, far outnumbering their Real Madrid counterparts.
But the celebratory mood made way for one of concern ahead of the planned kick-off time as logistical issues outside the stadium caused lengthy delays and packed queues for Liverpool fans attempting to make their way into the ground.
UEFA put the delays down to "the late arrival of fans" in messages displayed on the big screens inside the stadium but the queues had been building for hours and the ambiguity only added to the sense of confusion amid reports of heavy-handed policing.
The game finally got under way some 37 minutes later than intended and while the circumstances made for an understandably tentative opening quarter of an hour, the encounter suddenly exploded into life with a succession of Liverpool chances.
The first saw Mohamed Salah, seeking revenge for Liverpool's defeat to Madrid in 2018, force a low save from Courtois at close range after fine work from Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right.
Liverpool maintained the pressure, with Thiago, who came through an injury scare during the warm-up to start the game, and Salah both sending shots straight at Courtois.
Mane went closest to breaking the deadlock moments later, his angled effort, after cutting in from the left-hand side of the box, brilliantly diverted onto the inside of the post by Courtois.
Madrid were hanging on at that point but they weathered the storm and it seemed they might even go into the break in front when a disallowed goal by Karim Benzema following a defensive mix-up in the Liverpool box was checked by VAR for more than three minutes.
The officials were attempting to ascertain whether the final touch came off a Liverpool player, which would have meant Benzema was in fact onside, but the decision eventually went the way of the Reds.
The disallowed goal still felt ominous, however, even though Liverpool had been the better of the two sides in the first half.
They continued to push forward after the break, with Alexander-Arnold supplying a series of dangerous deliveries from the right, but Madrid waited patiently for their moment and it duly arrived.
Alexander-Arnold switched off when he allowed Vinicius to run beyond him following a slick Madrid move started by Luka Modric in midfield, and the Brazilian was able to fire past the despairing Alisson from a few yards out, prompting wild celebrations with the white-shirted fans behind the goal.
Salah led Liverpool's attempts to get back on level terms, a curling effort, one of nine shots from him over the course of the game, forcing another acrobatic save from Courtois just five minutes after Vinicius' goal.
The Egyptian had another opportunity after that, with Courtois charging down his back-post shot from point-blank range, and while Liverpool continued to pile forward, their composure deserted them in the closing stages, with substitute Naby Keita skying one effort from a Fabinho cut-back.
The Liverpool players, playing the 63rd game of a marathon season, collapsed to the turf in disappointment at full-time, while Real Madrid, who overcame Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City in remarkable fashion to reach the final, celebrated their eighth consecutive victory in a Champions League final, further enhancing their European legend.
A defiant Jurgen Klopp vowed Liverpool will come back stronger from the defeat and told fans to book the hotels for next year's Champions League final in Istanbul.
"It's not bad to get to the final - it's kind of a success although not the success you want to have," he told BT Sport.
"I have a strong feeling we will come again. The boys are really competitive and are an outstanding group - they will be that again next season. And we go again. Where is it next season? Istanbul? Book the hotel!
"The mood in the dressing room makes it feel like not a great season in this moment - we'll need a few minutes or hours for that," he added.
"We played a good, not a perfect game. A perfect game wouldn't have been possible with how the opponent set up with the deep formation, counter-attacks and long balls - that was tricky.
"Like the disallowed goal in the first half was a long ball that we couldn't defend in the first place. We had a lot of shots but not the clearest - only three forced (Thibaut) Courtois into top saves.
"We conceded a goal from a throw-in. (Federico) Valverde wanted to shoot, Vinicius was there and that's it.
"The boys tried everything, especially at 1-0 down. We wanted to be more brave in the second half. That's what we said at half-time. We played around them. We should have played more in the formation than around them."
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti described himself as "the record man" and hailed his side's victory as he became the first manager to win the Champions League for a fourth time.
"I can't believe it. We've had a fantastic season," he said.
"We suffered a lot in the first half but in the end we deserved to win this competition.
"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.
"The season was top."
Real Madrid's starting line-up was packed with Champions League winners but for Thibaut Courtois this one is a first.
The Belgian goalkeeper was in inspired form at the Stade de France to become a European champion for the first time, keeping Liverpool at bay almost single-handedly and making nine saves over the course of the 90 minutes.
After the game, he took a swipe at his critics, insisting he is not respected as much as he should be in England following his spell with Chelsea.
''I think I said yesterday in the press conference that when Madrid goes to finals, we win them," he said.
''I'm on the good side of history. I saw a lot of tweets coming my way today saying that I will be humbled, but I think it was the other way around.
''Today I needed to win a final for my career, for all the hard work - to put respect on my name because I don't think I have a lot of respect in England."
Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol reported being tear-gassed by police amid chaotic scenes outside the ground ahead of kick-off.
He said: "In the last few minutes, me and three of my crew were tear-gassed for no reason whatsoever by the French police. It was a pretty nasty experience but we sorted it out by getting a few bottles of water and pouring it in our eyes. We are all fine.
"The situation here is a bit of a strange one. I think what has happened is a lot of people have turned up at the stadium without tickets. They seem to be young, French people just milling around and trying to break through the security cordons.
"From what I've seen, even at the Liverpool fan park, the French police's attitude has been very heavy-handed with absolutely zero tolerance. They don't care how much of a crush is developing and they are insisting on searching absolutely everybody before they let them through.
"We had a situation at the fan park this afternoon where some Liverpool fans were queuing up for three hours to get into a free event. There were three, four, five checkpoints where they were being held up and searched.
"We had the same situation at the stadium tonight. There are so many police, riot police and security guards here and their mindset has been to stop anybody without a ticket getting anywhere near the stadium.
"The situation is complicated because we're not just talking about paper tickets, we're talking about in the modern age, people have passes on their phones. They haven't been able to bring up the right passes or find their passwords. We've seen people in tears because they've had their tickets swiped from them. People have had their electronic tickets stolen from them.
"As far as the police and security here [at the Stade de France] are concerned, they don't care. They don't want anybody near the stadium if they don't have tickets. I'm walking around the streets now and it's full on young, French people trying to find a way to get inside the security cordon.
"I can only say from what I've seen as an eyewitness myself, but I haven't seen any Liverpool supporters whatsoever causing any problem at all. I haven't seen them turning up late, I was quite shocked at how early supporters had turned up at the stadium.
"We got here about four hours before kick-off, expecting it to be quite quiet. But it felt like it was an hour before kick-off because so many people had arrived early and in good time. I would be very wary when I read statements from UEFA blaming kick-off being delayed and problems outside the stadium on the late arrival of fans. That is not the case from what I have seen.
"I have seen quite a few fans trying to trick their way past security guards and the policemen and all of those supporters I've seen trying to do that are Spanish. It was one of those incidents we got caught up in when we were tear-gassed, a group of riot police were trying to eject some Real Madrid supporters who were trying to get through the cordon without tickets.
"There was a bit of a confrontation between the Spanish supporters and the riot police, and that's when they got out the tear gas and we happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"But I have to stress again - with my own eyes, I haven't seen any Liverpool supporters causing any problems or trouble whatsoever."