If Gareth Bale was upset to be on the bench for Saturday's final in Kyiv, he responded in precisely the right way when given his chance in the second half. Within minutes of coming on, with the score 1-1, the Welsh international delivered a spectacular bicycle kick to restore Real Madrid's lead.
"Obviously I was very disappointed not to start the game, I felt I deserved it but the manager makes the decisions," Bale told BT Sport after the game, adding that he'd be discussing Real's selection practices with his agent ahead of the transfer window. "The best I have been doing is to come on and make an impact, I certainly did. I need to be playing week in, week out, and that has not happened this season."
Bale would later be named man of the match, although in truth, his second goal was more of a gift from the villain of the piece: Liverpool keeper Loris Karius.
Karius was at fault for Real's first and third goals. He assisted an opportunistic Karim Benzema by trying to roll the ball out to a defender in haste; the veteran French international read Karius' mind and intercepted for a tap-in. Then, in the closing phases, Bale's harmless, curling shot from distance evaded the 24-year-old's grasp and bobbled into the back of the net. Karius both apologized to the fans and shared words with fellow Swabian and coach Jürgen Klopp after the match. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson sought to switch the focus talking to BT Sport.
"It's not about him and the mistakes he might have made, it's about the team. We weren't good enough on the night," Henderson said.
Even before Karius' woes and the final whistle, it was a match tainted by tears. Liverpool's Egyptian star Mohamed Salah went off injured in the first half after a clash with Real's Sergio Ramos. Dani Carvajal of Real was similarly distraught when injury claimed him moments later. Both players have World Cup dreams to keep an eye on, as well, and Klopp told Germany's Sky Sport after the game that Salah appeared to have fractured his shoulder and might miss the World Cup.
Real Madrid therefore claim a third consecutive Champions League crown. Their German playmaker Toni Kroos, who was quiet but surefooted in midfield on the night, becomes the first German to win the competition four times, still aged 28.
(This article was first published on DW. You can read the original article here.)