June 19, 2018

Champions League final: Zidane to start Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo against Liverpool

27 May 2018, 01:06 | Kristopher Drake

Zinedine Zidane has remained coy on Neymar interest. Pic Denis Doyle Getty Images

Zinedine Zidane has remained coy on Neymar interest. Pic Denis Doyle  Getty Images

"I know Zidane has won two Champions League titles in a row but he has had world class players to work with".

Sadio Mane had briefly restored parity, but Bale put Real in front again and then made it 3-1 late on with a long-range strike that the unfortunate Karius could only punch into the net.

The La Liga giants are gunning for a third consecutive Champions League trophy; and having scaled through tough European teams like Paris St-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich on their run to the final, they now have only Liverpool as obstacle to achieving the dream.

Much of the pre-match build-up centred on the anticipated battle between star forwards Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo in Kiev, but the duel was cut short before the half hour when Liverpool's talisman suffered an apparent shoulder injury.

The Welshman scored the 2014 Champions League victor for the Los Blancos but started from the bench in the 2017 final at Cardiff.

The goal emulated his manager Zinedine Zidane's famous volley in the 2002 final at Hampden Park against Bayer Leverkusen, although Bale's strike required even more acrobatic ability.

"The ball goes into him it sticks, I've seen him produce in many big games where does produce the goods and allow other players to perform around him".

"Obviously I was very disappointed not to start the game", he told BT Sport.

Real Madrid have been way off the pace in La Liga. Pic Laurence Griffiths  Getty Images
Real Madrid have been way off the pace in La Liga. Pic Laurence Griffiths Getty Images

83rd minute: Bale gets to score another goal, Marcelo gets another assist.

Ronaldo is bidding to join a group of players who have won the European Cup five times, including former Real great Di Stefano.

For once in the final, it wasn't the Portuguese who made the difference for Real.

"We have the same chance as they do".

Klopp mused before the game that Real Madrid's substitutes could make a Champions League final themselves and how right he was given Bale's impact. But he has the golden touch in finals, winning all eight he has managed for Real Madrid, while Klopp has lost seven of his eight including his time in Germany.

Salah's exit gave Real an immediate lift because they had been nervous and edgy up until that point in the game.

Mane levelled the score four minutes later, when he poked home from a corner.

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