Real Madrid have won the Champions League after Vinicius Jr’s second-half goal left Liverpool’s hopes in tatters at the Stade de France.
Kick-off in Paris was delayed by 36 minutes after Liverpool fans struggled to get into the stadium, with the club requesting a formal investigation after videos emerged online of tear gas being used on supporters by police.
Jurgen Klopp’s side dominated the first half but were served a warning when Karim Benzema’s goal was disallowed on the brink of half-time after a lengthy VAR check.
Vinicius struck after 58 minutes for Carlo Ancelotti’s side as he latched onto Fede Valverde’s cross at the back post.
Mohamed Salah came close to equalising for Liverpool but Thibaut Courtois was magnificent in goal as Real Madrid held on to win a record-extending 14th European Cup.
Liverpool fall at final hurdle
Liverpool’s magnificent season brought them the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup – both won on penalties against Chelsea – but ended in a double disappointment in the final week of a stellar campaign.
The Champions League might have eased the agony of just missing out on the Premier League to Manchester City by one point, only for Liverpool to find themselves on the wrong end of a goalkeeping masterclass from Courtois.
The Belgian was simply perfect as he was a constant thorn in Salah’s side, turned Sadio Mane’s shot on to the post brilliantly and commanded his penalty area with faultless handling.
Salah held his head in disbelief on many occasions as Courtois manned the barricade for Real, leaving the Egyptian to nurse the pain of another Champions League final defeat by the Spanish giants.
Liverpool were not quite at their best and eventually paid the price for not taking chances as Real pounced in trademark fashion to win this tournament for a record-extending 14th time.
Klopp’s side could not have given any more as they pushed to the final whistle but looked jaded towards the end – no surprise given the demands made of them this season.
Liverpool will still take huge credit by maintaining a push for an historic quadruple until the final week of the season but the conclusion will sting.
The occasion left even more of a sour taste given the events outside Stade de France. Liverpool are demanding a full investigation into how thousands of their fans could not get into the stadium, with dangerous numbers packed into small areas as kick-off approached.
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This is Apex Football’s live blog for updates on the Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool. Keep refreshing this page to get all the latest updates!
REAL MADRID WIN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOR THE 14th TIME!
Full time: Liverpool 0-1 Real Madrid
It’s Real Madrid’s continent, we just live in it.
90+1 min There will be five minutes of added time.
82 min: Magnificent save from Courtois! Salah kills a crossfield pass, scoots past Mendy in the area and pings a right-footed shot that is divered just wide of the far post by Courtois! That was a wonderful reaction save.
75 min: Double substitution for Liverpool Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita replace Thiago Alcantara and Jordan Henderson, which means a switch to 4-2-4.
GOAL! Liverpool 0-1 Real Madrid (Vinicius Jr 59)
And the Catenaccio strikes! Madrid attack down the right and as a low ball is played towards the far post by Fede Valverde, Vinicius Junior awkwardly adjusts to tap the ball home.
46 min Peep peep! The second half ius under way. The consensus on the disallowed goal is non-existent.
Half time: Liverpool 0-0 Real Madrid
The kick-off was delayed, and the match still hasn’t really got going. Liverpool were the better team for most of a relatively low-key half. Thibaut Courtois did brilliantly to push Sadio Mane’s shot onto a post, and then Karim Benzema had a goal controversially ruled out for offside. See you in 15 minutes for the second half.
43 min: Benzema has a goal disallowed for offside!
VAR check! Benzema was definitely offside, because he was in front of the goalkeeper Alisson, but the issue is whether the ball was played through by a Madrid player (Valverde) or a Liverpool defender (Fabinho). If it’s the latter, it’ll be a goal. I think this will be given.
It started when Benzema ran onto a long ball forward and turned inside Robertson near the six-yard box. Alisson blocked the goal so Benzema poked it tamely across the area. Alisson pushed the ball away and then there was a scramble, with Valverde, Konate and Fabinho all touching the ball (in that order, I think) before Benzema swept it into the net.
34 min: Chance for Liverpool! Alexander-Arnold curls in a left-footed cross that is headed straight at Courtois by Salah, 12 yards out. That was a decent chance, though it was alarming how easily he lost Eder Militao. That’s Liverpool’s eighth attempt at goal and their fifth on target. Madrid? Nada. Zilch. Sweet bugger all.
21 min: Mane hits the post! Thiago slides a typical disguised pass into Mane on the edge of the area. He zips inside Eder Militao and whacks a shot that is pushed onto the inside of the post by the diving Courtois before rebounding to safety. That’s a marvellous save!
18 min: Mane lays the ball off nicely to Salah, whose rising half-volley from 18 yards is pushed down by Courtois and claimed at the second attempt. Liverpool are well on top now.
16 min: Good save from Courtois! A deep crossfield pass is headed back by Henderson to Alexander-Arnold on the right corner of the box. He wriggles away from Vinicius and Mendy before sliding a low cross that is turned towards goal by the off balance Salah, six yards out. Courtois gets down smartly to his left to save.
Liverpool keep the pressure on. Diaz has a shot blocked and then Thiago’s long-range curler is too close to Courtois.
3 min: An early free-kick for Liverpool on the left. Alexander-Arnold curls it in and Benzema clears. Liverpool have started on the front foot.
1 min: KICK-OFF! eep peep! At 9.37pm local time, Liverpool get the Champions League final under way.
20:33 Fianlly it’s about to start!
This is referee Clement Turpin’s first Champions League final. He has shown four red cards in six games this season, ahtough three came in one game (Porto v Atletico Madrid).
He was the fourth official when these sides met in the 2018 final – and was the ref for last season’s Europa League final between Villarreal and Manchester United.
20:30 Shocking scenes outside the stadium…
20:21 Kick-off has now been delayed until 8.36pm BST.
The scenes outside the stadium, police spraying tear gas at fans outside the stadium prior to the Champions League final.
20:20 Still minutes to go…
Match delayed although, We’ve still got 6619 votes already on Apex Football! With 34% supporters choosing Liverpool and 34% supporters choosing Real Madrid, definitely the same!? Update to our latest version to pick up your choice in the poll of the match page!
20:09 BREAKING: Kick off delayed by a further 15 minutes
The match will now begin, all being well, at 9.30pm local time, 8.30pm BST. Uefa are now saying the delay is for “security reasons” rather than blaming it on the supporters as they did when the first delay was announced.
19:47 BREAKING NEWS: The 8pm kick-off is delayed by 15 minutes
”A lack of organisation meant there were shambolic scenes outside the Stade de France.
Long queues formed and the Liverpool end was noticeably patchy less than half an hour before kick-off as supporters struggled to get in.
A few ticketless fans were seen trying to gain access to the Stade de France, despite a permanent fence being in place around the perimeter.
Huge queues of Liverpool fans have formed outside the Stade de France in Paris ahead of the Champions League final.
Long queues began to form due to delays in searches at the gates, with many supporters likely to miss kick off.”
19:44 Will Thiago start for Liverpool?
Here’s some photos to try and give you some clues. That’s a very consoling hug from boss Jurgen Klopp.
19:43 It’s not looking good for Thiago Alcantara…
No changes confirmed but Naby Keita has just exchanged some warm hugs with Thiago for whatever that is worth. It’s not looking good for the latter, but will he start?
19:41 Liverpool are suddenly sweating on the fitness of Thiago
18:58 The Liverpool team have also arrived in Paris
The Liverpool lads are in more relaxed casual attire compared to their stylish suited and booted opponents. No goals or winners’ medals are handed out for style in this game though.
18:49 Liverpool starting XI
Thiago and Konate start!
Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz.
Three changes for Jurgen Klopp’s men
As expected, Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk come in for Diogo Jota and Joel Matip, while Fabinho is also included in place of Naby Keita following their 3-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on the final day of the season.
18:44Where are Liverpool though?
Stuck in traffic. Seems like a few Everton supporters will do anything to stop the Reds ending the season on a high….
They are close to the Stade de France though and should arrive in good time not to disrupt their pre-match plans.
18:41 Match Facts
This will be the ninth meeting between Liverpool and Real Madrid in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League – after winning the first three between 1981 and 2009, the Reds are winless in the last five (D1 L4), including a defeat in the final in 2018. Reacquainted.
18:35 The Madrid boys are here and ready to go…
17:45 Real Madrid starting XI
No real surprises from Madrid with that early XI announcement
Real Madrid (4-3-3) Courtois; Carvajal, Eder Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
That’s an expected XI for Real Madrid, with Valverde’s energy enabling him to contribute to the attack along with Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior, as well as allowing him to drop to form a midfield four when out of possession.
From the team that drew 0-0 with Real Betis eight days ago, David Alaba comes into the defence in place of Nacho Fernandez while Rodrygo makes way for Fede Valverde.
Over to you, Jurgen!
17:03 Look who has arrived!
No, not former Chelsea and Real Madrid great Claude Makelele – but the Champions League trophy as it takes its place pitchside.
Even as a former winner with Madrid back in 2002, he still looks impressed with Ol’ Big Ears.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of Europe’s biggest custody battle. The identities of Liverpool and Real Madrid are inextricably linked to the Champions League, and both clubs feel a kind of moral ownership of that giant trophy. Tonight one of them will lift it again, and the other will be left to wrestle with a bit of the old cognitive dissonance as they walk straight past it on the podium.
Both clubs have an intimidating sense of destiny at the business end of the Champions League. This season it’s even more powerful: Real because of their form in this competition, Liverpool because of their form in every competition. Defeat in a Champions League final is always unthinkable for these two. In 2021-22, it’s a concept they barely understand.
Real, in particular, simply don’t lose Champions League finals: just three out of 16, the last in 1981, when they were beaten by… yep, Liverpool, in Paris. Liverpool’s most recent defeat in the final was also against tonight’s opponents, an emotional night in Kyiv four years ago that took out a lease in Mo Salah’s subconscious. Since Jurgen Klopp came to Anfield, Liverpool have only been knocked out of the Champions League by teams whose name ends in ‘Madrid’. I’m going to stick my neck out and say that will still be the case after this game.
That’s just about the only sure thing. Usually, we have a rough idea – or at least we think we do – of how a big game might pan out. Ahead of this game, there is nary a scooby. That’s mainly because of a Madrid side who have cheerily defenestrated logic all season. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that Liverpool could feasibly win 5-0 or Real 7-3.
If Liverpool take control of this game, they need to remember Johnny Caspar’s advice: always put one in the brain (NB: link is from an 18-rated film). Madrid have come back from the dead in every round, culminating in their unfathomable defeat of Manchester City in the semi-finals. Liverpool, by contrast – and there are a lot of contrasts tonight – haven’t been behind in a knockout tie. The moral of this story will become apparent around 11pm when the victors start writing the history of the 2021-22 Champions League. If Madrid win, they can claim this as the greatest European campaign since GOATs began.
Three weeks ago, Liverpool were strongish favourites for this match, but their legs and muscles have started showing the strain of a uniquely demanding season. Real have had their feet up for the last 24 days. You can argue it either way: that Liverpool are too tired or that Madrid are too battle-softened.
Even the individual duel that everyone is talking about, Vinicius Jr v Trent Alexander-Arnold, is more complicated than the usual story of attacker v defender or midfielder v midfielder. Vinicius could be the matchwinner, as he was when Real beat Liverpool in the quarter-final last year. But then so could Alexander-Arnold, who plays like no right-back in football history.
There are a gazillion points of interest, but in the name of brevity we’ll settle for a few. Whether Real can do the same Hulk Hogan homage in the Parc des Princes as they have in the heady atmosphere of the Bernabeu; whether Thiago Alcantara is fit to start and, if not, whether Jurgen Klopp risks Naby Keita after his minor shocker against Madrid last season; how many times Luis Diaz and Karim Benzema will leave us agape; and the contrast in styles, between Carlo Ancelotti’s free jazz and Jurgen Klopp’s heavy metal.
Madrid are chasing a record-extending 14th Champions League. Never mind other clubs: no country other than Spain (duh) has won more than that. For Liverpool it would be No7, moving them joint second with AC Milan and – this stuff matters, let’s not pretend it doesn’t – four clear of Manchester United. Oh, and seven clear of Manchester City. It would also complete a deluxe version of the treble they did under Gerard Houllier in 2000-01.
The modern Champions League is as good as football gets, maybe as good it has ever gotten, but in recent years the greatest drama has been reserved for the quarters and semis. Most of the finals have been either a bit dull or a bit one-sided. This, please, is going to be different.
Kick off 8pm in Liverpool, 9pm in Paris and Madrid.