Vinicius Junior winner brings Real joy and Paris pain for Pool 

Real Madrid had a standout performance from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois
Vinicius Junior winner brings Real joy and Paris pain for Pool 

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Champions League final soccer match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint Denis near Paris, Saturday, May 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Champions League Final: Real Madrid 1 Liverpool 0

Jurgen Klopp was left counting the cost of a host of missed first half chances as Vinicius Junior’s goal won a 14th Champions League title for Real Madrid.

Defeat meant that Klopp and Liverpool are left with “only” the FA and League Cups to show for a season which, for so long, hinted at the possibility of an unprecedented quadruple.

But defeat in Paris only arrived after an outstanding display by Real keeper Thibaut Courtois and a string of missed openings by the Reds.

Vinicius Junior turned the ball in at the far post after Real launched a superb attacking move after 58 minutes and Federico Valverde crossed from the right.

The ball found Trent Alexander-Arnold badly at fault, as he failed to cover the Brazilian’s run and was a goal that summed up a frustrating night for the Premier League giants.

The 36-minute delay to the kick-off - the result of UEFA’s disastrous handling of security and ticket checks outside the State de France - ensured a slow start to the Final when it finally began.

But, by half-time, the game had become fascinating and Real were within inches of taking a lead just before the interval.

Karim Benzema had the ball in the net, after Alisson, Ibrahima Konate and Fabinho all descended on the striker and failed to clear cleanly.

The ball broke to the in-form striker who hooked it into the net, only for a flag to rule the goal out and a VAR check take three minutes to finally agree.

It was a lucky escape for Klopp’s men who had “out-shot” the Spanish side 10-0 to that point and, at various stages, looked certain to take the lead.

But they found Courtois in inspired form, none more so than on 20 minutes when Sadio Mane skilfully made room for himself and unleashed a brilliant shot from the edge of the area.

Courtois managed to touch it onto his post with a magnificent save and deserved the small slice of luck when the rebound struck him on the back and ricocheted away from goal, rather than into it.

A few minutes earlier, Courtois had done nearly as well when he flung himself low to his left to keep out a six-yard effort from Mo Salah, courtesy of nice play and a cross from Alexander-Arnold.

And Salah also placed a couple of efforts, one a left-foot shot, the other a header, straight at the former Chelsea keeper.

But Real had reached this stage of the world’s most famous domestic competition by becoming the comeback kings - with dramatic wins over PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City.

The danger for Klopp was that the longer the tie remained scoreless, the more this was playing into the hands of Real and their wily manager Carlo Ancelotti - as they proved when they almost snatched the lead after 43 minutes.

Liverpool maintained the pressure after the restart, although by now Klopp’s men were treating Real with more caution.

Dani Carvajal made a superb, early clearing header to deny Luis Diaz as he was poised to meet an Alexander-Arnold cross and Courtois did well to palm a cross from the full-back away from Thiago Alcantara.

But the goal, just before the hour, was hardly a surprise and left Liverpool desperately searching for the equaliser.

Again and again, they found Courtois inspired as the keeper kept out Salah’s curling effort and then saved from the same striker at the far post as he looked set to turn in Diogo Jota’s cross.

Casemiro should have done better when he was played in by a Toni Kroos free-kick but Courtois was soon back under pressure, making brilliant diving stops to keep out two more Salah efforts.

Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson 6; Alexander-Arnold 5, Konate 7, van Dijk 7, Robertson 5; Henderson 7, Fabinho 6, Thiago 6; Salah 6, Mane 8, Diaz 5 (Jota 65, 5). Substitutes: Milner, Keita, Firmino, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Minamino, Tsimikas, Matip, Kelleher, Elliott.

Real Madrid (4-3-3): Courtois 10; Carvajal 7, Militao 7, Alaba 7, Mendy 7; Modric 6 (Ceballos 89), Casemiro 7, Kroos 6; Valverde 8 (Camavinga 85), Benzema 7, Vinicius Junior 7 (Rodrygo 90). Substitutes: Nacho, Hazard, Asensio, Marcelo, Lunin, Vazquez, Bale, Isco, Mariano.

Referee: C Turpin (France) 8

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