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Real Madrid beat Liverpool to win 14th Champions League title thanks to Vinicius Junior and Thibaut Courtois

For the record 14th time in their rich, unmatched history, Real Madrid were crowned kings of the UEFA Champions League on Saturday at Stade de France in Saint-Denis. Carlo Ancelotti's side got a second-half goal from Vinicius Junior on one of their few chances to defeat Premier League giants Liverpool 1-0 in the final (Player Ratings). 

Jurgen Klopp's team dominated the ball and the chances, but the best opportunity for Los Blancos in the second half resulted in the lone goal of the match. Federico Valverde played a strong ball across the box that found Vinicius Jr. at the back post for a fairly easy finish in the 59th minute, leaving the Reds shell shocked. 

Liverpool hit the post in the first half and had the most chances in the game, but they could not get one past an unbelievable performance in goal from Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian shot-stopper, a loser in the final with Atletico Madrid against Real Madrid eight years ago, is now on the winning side with a epic performance that will go down in history, denying the high-octane attack and the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane with every chance he had. 

Real Madrid finished the game with just four shots, while Liverpool had 24. Real finished with an xG of 0.88 to Liverpool's 2.44. Courtois made nine saves on the night. The expected goals against Courtois was 2.14, which goes to show just how pivotal he was to the success of the Spanish giants on the night. 

The victory completes a double for Real Madrid after having won La Liga this season.

Here's what to know:

Liverpool will come away feeling ...

Wasteful. The Reds will feel proud of the chances created but disappointed with how they finished. Part of the reason was what Courtois was able to do in goal, but then I think back to Naby Keita's chance late on. The midfielder was alone at the top of the box when the ball fell to him, and he could have taken two touches before firing, yet he hit it first touch and sent the ball flying closer to the corner flag than the goal. It was the match of wasted chances for the Reds. They did everything they needed to in terms of creating to at least for extra time, but they couldn't get it done.

Real Madrid will come away feeling ...

Like they are back on their throne. Nobody does UCL better, and they've now won their last 10 European finals. You read that right. It might not always be pretty, but boy are they effective and nobody knows how to get the job done better than them. Early on, it looked like it would be the Reds' night with their flurry of chances, but once again they only bent and did not break, scoring and then holding on late. It was a top-tier performance by a team whose permanent residence is atop of the continent. On this night, Real Madrid weren't the strongest. But as always, they showed why they are the best. 

Game-changing moment:

It came in the 21st minute. Mane infiltrated the box, made a move to get across it, and he fired a low shot that had Courtois' momentum taking him the other way. But the goalkeeper was ready for it, getting a slight touch on the ball to send it off the post. Take a look:

That wasn't his first save of the match, but it felt like the moment where at least I came to the realization that this guy was on and ready for what was to come.

Man of the match:

Nobody came close to what Courtois did. His impact single-handled kept his team in position to win it. He closed down well, he was a sure thing in the air and made no mistakes. It was as close to a perfect goalkeeper performance as you will find. 

A perfect five for five

Karim Benzema, Dani Carvajal and Luka Modric made history in this match, joining their former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo as the only players to play in and win five Champions League titles. They did four of them together, with Ronaldo's other one being his first in 2008 when Manchester United beat Chelsea. 

Most players in Europe's top leagues never even get to play in the Champions League, but to go to five and win them all is the stuff of legends. On top of it, each made an impact in this one. Benzema was the creator, Modric the distributor, and Carvajal put in a stellar shift in defense to contain Luis Diaz. 

Champions again, and again, and again, and again. 

The trophy lift

Fourteen European crowns for Los Blancos, and this never get old for a crew that nobody gave much of a chance to do anything. Remember, this team lost to Sheriff in the group stage and end the season by defeating two of the greatest teams we've ever seen in this campaign's Manchester City and Liverpool, taking care of them back-to-back. 

Here is the trophy lift, led by 34-year-old Marcelo, who could be leaving the club this summer and gets a bittersweet moment:

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And they've done it! Number 14 for Real Madrid in a 1-0 victory

They can thank Thibaut Courtois for this Champions League title as the defense bent but didn't break due to his impressive performance. Carlo Ancelotti has now become the most successful coach in Champions League history with his fourth title as a manager. 

May 28, 2022, 9:35 PM
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Ceballos should've iced it!

On his own in the box, Ceballos could've shot or played the ball to another attacker but bungled the chance leading to a Real Madrid corner. There will be five minutes of extra time to be played.

May 28, 2022, 9:30 PM
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Five minutes stand between Real Madrid and the title

It's game management time as Camavinga will enter the match. Liverpool are doing anything they can to force extra time but Casemiro is having an excellent day defending.

May 28, 2022, 9:25 PM
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Salah scores that nine times out of ten

But the tenth time he was up against Courtois. What a day for Real Madrid's keeper.

May 28, 2022, 9:21 PM
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Liverpool are throwing everything forward

Real Madrid's defense is dropping deeper and deeper but Jota and FIrmino have made an impact so far after coming into the match. It's getting nervy but Real Madrid hasn't made a change yet.

May 28, 2022, 9:19 PM
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Another change is incoming as Naby Keita gets ready

This is likely for Thiago as Liverpool will want to get fresh legs out to push the pace. Real Madrid have yet to make a change of their own. Roberto Firmino is also getting ready.

May 28, 2022, 9:13 PM
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Real Madrid's entire plan is propped up by Courtois

It has been an impressive performance in net stopping everything that has come his way and allowing his attack to play on the break. Real Madrid will want another to feel comfortable but if they pitch a shutout, it'll be down to Courtois on why it could happen.

May 28, 2022, 9:10 PM
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Jurgen Klopp makes his first change

It's Diogo Jota for Luis Diaz. Jota could slot in on the left wing or swap with Mane and play through the middle.

May 28, 2022, 9:03 PM
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Valverde was probably shooting but they all count the same!

May 28, 2022, 9:01 PM
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It's an opener from Vini Jr.! 1-0 Real Madrid

It's against the run of play but Valverde plays a perfect ball to Vini Jr. for the opener with their first shot on target of the night.

May 28, 2022, 8:57 PM
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The Alexander-Arnold tango

Alexander-Arnold saw his shot blocked by Casimiro but was able to quickly recover possession so that Liverpool could continue attacking and deliver a cross to Thiago. An impressive day going both ways for him so far.

May 28, 2022, 8:52 PM
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Liverpool are roaring after the half

Good defending from Carvajal did just enough to stop Diaz from having a clear header on goal right after the break. Liverpool are looking to continue their attacking dominance but they need a goal to show for things sooner than later.

May 28, 2022, 8:45 PM
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Halftime

At the break, it's just as we started, level at 0-0. Liverpool were the better side and had the best chances, but Real nearly took the lead late via Karim Benzema, only to be ruled offside by the assistant referee and VAR. A thrilling second half awaits, and hopefully with it will be more chances. I think Los Blancos will be happy with where they are after the opening 45 minutes.

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The offsides is confirmed 

This will give maybe one more chance before the half.

May 28, 2022, 8:25 PM
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The ball is in the net! But offsides

Liverpool gave Benzema an inch and he almost made them pay. Alisson was out of the net to defend him but a giveaway gave Benzema another chance. He puts that one in the net but is called off. It is going to VAR review to confirm.

May 28, 2022, 8:22 PM
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Mane draws a corner

Again Militao is beaten. Robertson's corner gets to Henderson outside the box who strikes it well but off target. 

May 28, 2022, 8:18 PM
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Another shot on goal from Liverpool

It's Salah again but an easy save for Courtois. Alaba and Militao are providing far too much space in the center of the pitch and with Liverpool's attacks beginning from wide, Casemiro isn't making a large impact. Meanwhile, when Real Madrid attacks it's predictable as every target is to Vini Jr. for him to make something happen.

May 28, 2022, 8:13 PM
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A little better from Real Madrid

Alisson was aware of what Vini Jr. was trying to do in his attempted cross to Benzema but what's important is that Real Madrid were able to try something in the attacking third after being pinned back for most of the match. 

May 28, 2022, 8:05 PM
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Off the post!

It's all Liverpool as Mane's shot is saved by Courtois but it ricochets off the post before bouncing into his calm hands. Real Madrid will need to apply some pressure sooner than later.

May 28, 2022, 7:59 PM
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It's strong from Liverpool

The Reds look comfortable early with two shots on goal, but Courtois does well with both, including a tricky first from Salah in front of goal. It's a better start from Liverpool as they look to play down the wings. 

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Liverpool's defense is strong so far

Konate is strong defending Vini Jr. as his stepping when Alexander-Arnold goes forward will be critical. Salah forces a save but things have been tame so far attacking wise.

May 28, 2022, 7:54 PM
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Sadio Mane finds space but Real Madrid recovers

If the ball didn't go out of play for a goal kick, Mohamed Salah was open in the box for a shot which will be a warning to Los Blancos.

May 28, 2022, 7:49 PM
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Round one goes to Alexander-Arnold

One of the biggest matches to watch is Vini Jr. vs. Alexander-Arnold. The Liverpool defender wins round one between the two but they'll be dancing all night.

May 28, 2022, 7:42 PM
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Thiago involved early

After being questionable to make the match, Thiago concedes a free kick within a minute. It looks like both teams have plenty of energy despite the kickoff being delayed. 

May 28, 2022, 7:39 PM
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Kickoff in moments

The teams have come out, the anthem has been played, and finally it looks like things are getting underway.

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Prematch ceremonies are beginning

The kickoff is currently set for 3:36 but the situation outside the stadium has yet to be resolved.

May 28, 2022, 7:25 PM
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