The much-awaited Champions League finally concluded on Saturday night when Liverpool, the underdogs of the competition witnessed an anguish against the reigning champions Real Madrid who have now conquered it thrice in a row to lift their record 13th Champions League title in Kiev.
The ‘controversial’ early challenge from Sergio Ramos saw Mohamed Salah leave the field in tears with a suspected shoulder dislocation which not only diminished Liverpool’s hope but also raised doubts over the Egyptian’s World Cup future. He single-handedly led his nation to Russia after 28 years and his absence from the prestigious event will be a heartbreak for the global football fans.
The Reds still fought their heart out against the Galacticos but two goalkeeping howlers from Loris Karius and a stunning overhead strike from super-sub Gareth Bale shattered Liverpool’s dream.
A few players from both the sides, particularly from Liverpool, caught everyone’s eyes and earned the plaudits from the fans all over the world, who witnessed the uneven battle that ended 3-1 in favour of Zinedine Zidane’s star-studded Real Madrid side.
Here are three players from the game who will be remembered for long, irrespective of the outcome at NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev.
The Scotsman was relegated to Championship last year with Hull City and there were doubts when he was acquired by Liverpool for a fee of £10m. He had to wait for almost half a season for his chances but never put a foot wrong when he was handed first-team football following Alberto Moreno’s injury.
Robertson emerged as one of the finest left-backs and soon registered a place in Jurgen Klopp’s starting squad.
Still, there were doubts about whether he would be able to hold his nerve on such a grand stage but the defender proved everyone wrong following yet another stunning display down the left flank.
His fearless forward runs, crosses and link-up play with Sadio Mane often troubled the Blancos’ back-line but the occasion of stopping Cristiano Ronaldo’s certain goal with a last-ditch tackle showed the fearlessness and determination to mark his name in European football.
Salah’s early exit left Liverpool clueless in the attacking third, however, the Senegalese sensation had other ideas as he haunted the Madrid defence with his sheer individual skills, tricky runs, and brilliant footwork.
Loris Karius’ howler allowed Karim Benzema to score a bizarre goal and break the deadlock early in the second half but Mane was spot on as he equalised minutes later following a corner situation. He kept on terrorising the champions even after Gareth Bale’s majestic goal that restored the lead.
He was unlucky to hit the woodwork from distance once, which could have had earned the Reds a second equaliser. The equation might have been pretty different from the ultimate scoreline had that gone in.
The Welsh Wizard had a tough season with injuries and Zidane too preferred to keep him among the substitutes on most occasions. Bale was in massive goal-scoring form in La Liga of late but the gaffer still preferred not to hand him a start against Liverpool on Saturday night.
However, Bale’s second-half cameo was more than enough to seal the deal as his outrageous overhead strike restored their just lead minutes after his introduction.
The insurance goal was more of Karius’ blunder as the keeper failed to deal with Bale’s long-range strike.
The Reds were simply awe-stricken by the impact made by the ex-Spurs attacker since coming on as a substitute, as he single-handedly turned the game in Real Madrid’s favour to conquer yet another Champions League title.