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Resilient Real Madrid inevitably hold firm to claim Champions League glory

By AFP

June 2, 2024 11:24 AM


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Real Madrid always find a way in the Champions League and so it proved again as they were outplayed by Borussia Dortmund on Saturday but still claimed a record 15th triumph.

Edin Terzic's side put Los Blancos under the cosh in the first half but Madrid held their nerve with some help from the woodwork, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and some profligate Dortmund finishing, before the inevitable happened.

Dani Carvajal broke the deadlock for Madrid with a crisp header from Toni Kroos' corner and then, with the Germans desperately hunting an equaliser, Vinicius Junior struck again to finish the job.

Madrid simply do not lose Champions League finals and this season, for the first time in their history, they have not lost a single match in the competition.

Carlo Ancelotti's side gave Dortmund's Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich a taste of their ability to snatch key results from thin air in the semi-final with Joselu's late brace, and Carvajal was just as unlikely a hero.

The Spanish right-back, enjoying a superb season, had not scored in the Champions League since the 2015-16 campaign but got the breakthrough when it counted.

"In the first half we didn't deserve to even be drawing, but we knew how to suffer, the post... but this is football and we are very happy," said Carvajal.

Dortmund had dominated early on with Karim Adeyemi wasting a good chance when through on goal by taking the ball too wide, while Niclas Fuellkrug prodded against the post.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceI4zXe7cGU

Madrid's attacking stars Vinicius, Rodrygo Goes and Jude Bellingham, on his England homecoming, had created little at the other end until Carvajal's header.

Bellingham cut a particularly frustrated figure, desperate to make an impact on home soil against his former team.

Madrid's only danger was coming from the boots of the man playing his last ever match for the club after a decade controlling the midfield -- Toni Kroos.

The German, who will retire from football after Euro 2024, forced a fine save from Gregor Kobel early in the second half, sweeping passes from side to side in a typically consistent showing.

- 'You never get used to it' -

Madrid supporters were outnumbered in London if not inside Wembley, but Dortmund's fans brought a far more daunting atmosphere, with flags, flares and fiery chanting.

"We're back in town to steal the crown," declared Dortmund fans on a banner, above a large canvas depicting the crown from Real Madrid's badge emblazoned with the German side's logo.

Of course, the kings of Europe could never let that happen.

The last time they were beaten in the Champions League final was 1981, the year before Terzic was born.

Madrid have now won six of the last 11 editions of the tournament and have a fierce stranglehold on the competition that may only grow with the expected arrival of Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe for next season.

Ancelotti extended his own record of Champions League triumphs as a coach to five and with his predecessor Zinedine Zidane carrying out the gleaming trophy before the game, it served as another reminder of Los Blancos' European dominance.

"You never get used to it, because it was difficult, so difficult, more than what we expected," admitted Ancelotti.

Regardless of the difficulty, as veteran midfielder Luka Modric laid out firmly the day before the final, Madrid "fight until the end", and they did so again to seal a fifth La Liga and Champions League double.


AFP


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