Saturday May 26, 2018. 22:57
Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah both had notable roles in the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday night, but the glory went the way of Real Madrid as a 3-1 victory in Kiev secured a third straight continental crown and a record-extending 13th overall.
Senegalese Mane scored and hit the woodwork for the Reds, while Egyptian star Salah saw his evening cut short with what looks to be a serious shoulder injury, and the Pharaohs will sweat on news of his fitness for the 2018 World Cup.
Salah and Mane both had early shots at goal, though neither managed to test Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas. In fact the first time the gloves-man was called into proper action was in the 23rd minute, as he turned away a low drive from Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Three minutes later disaster struck for Salah, who tangled in a challenge with Sergio Ramos and fell heavily on his left shoulder. The Egyptian was clearly in distress but initially seemed to shrug off the injury and continued playing after some treatment.
However, around the half-hour mark he slumped to the ground again and it was clear that his game was over. With tears in his eyes, the Pharaohs attacker was replaced in the 30th minute by Adam Lallana.
Real were also pushed into an injury-enforced change in the first half, with right-back Daniel Carvajal seemingly suffering an Achilles or calf problem. He was replaced by Nacho.
The Spanish giants thought they had taken the lead a couple of minutes before the half time break when Karim Benzema turned home a rebound – after Loris Karius kept out a goal-bound header from Cristiano Ronaldo – but the French striker was flagged offside.
‘Los Blancos’ went even closer early in the second half, as a defensive mistake from Liverpool gave Isco a great sight of goal – his effort had the beating of Karius, but rebounded off the crossbar and away to safety.
In the 51st minute Real claimed the lead thanks to dreadful mistake from Reds ‘keeper Karius, who looked to bowl the ball out underhand but watched in horror as Benzema stuck out a leg and directed the ball into an empty net for a bizarre goal.
However, Liverpool struck back in the 55th minute: a James Milner corner was headed toward goal and Mane reacted quickest to touch it home from close range and make it 1-1. The Senegalese became the first African to score in a UCL final since Didier Drogba for Chelsea in 2012.
Parity was short lived, with Real substitute Gareth Bale putting his back in front with a sublime goal in the 64th minute. The Welsh winger met a cross from Marcelo and netted with an incredible overhead kick to make it 2-1 on 64 minutes.
Mane nearly scored a second equaliser in the 70th minute, with his low, left-footed drive from just outside the box rebounding off the base of the post, but Liverpool hopes evaporated with just seven minutes left to play when Karius made another terrible error, allowing Bale’s long-range drive to squirm through his hands and make it 3-1.
Real Madrid (0) 3 (Benzema 51’, Bale 64’ 83’)
Liverpool (0) 1 (Mane 55’)
Real Madrid: 1 Keylor Navas, 2 Daniel Carvajal (6 Nacho 37’), 4 Sergio Ramos, 5 Raphael Varane, 12 Marcelo, 14 Casemiro, 10 Luka Modric, 8 Toni Kroos, 22 Isco (11 Bale 61’), 7 Cristiano Ronaldo, 9 Karim Benzema (20 Marco Asensio 89’)
Liverpool: 1 Loris Karius, 66 Trent Alexander-Arnold, 6 Dejan Lovren, 4 Virgil Van Dijk, 26 Andrew Robertson, 14 Jordan Henderson, 5 Georgino Wijnaldum, 7 James Milner (23 Emre Can 83’), 11 Mohamed Salah (20 Lallana 30’), 19 Sadio Mane, 9 Roberto Firmino