The world’s largest football club, Real Madrid, won their tenth UEFA Champions League cup on Saturday when they defeated hometown rival, Atlético Madrid, 4-1 in Lisbon, Portugal.
The final was played at Estadio da Luz, the home stadium for Portuguese club, Benfica.
There was much at stake for both sides, with Real Madrid looking to extend their UEFA Champions League tally to ten cups and Atlético Madrid hoping to claim their first ever UEFA Champions League title.
Atlético Madrid have already won the Spanish domestic competition, La Liga, for the 2013-14 season, making them the first team to bring an end to the duopoly which Barcelona and Real Madrid have held over the competition since 2004. In the ten seasons since 2004, Real Madrid have won three times and Barcelona an astounding ten times.
Diego Simeone, the Atlético Madrid manager, and his men were so deserving of the La Liga title this season that his side received a standing ovation from the Barcelona fans when they clinched the title earlier this year.
Although they were dominant in the domestic cup, the Champions League final was a different story. Real showed just how much they wanted the coveted “La Decima” and put on a fiery display to ensure that they returned home with that elusive tenth title.
The game first swung in Atlético Madrid’s favour when Real Madrid goalkeeper, Iker Casillas, experienced a lapse in judgment and rushed out to no-man’s land and was consequently beaten by a lofted header from Diego Godin. The match was not going to be an easy one, with both sides fighting for possession and a total of twelve yellow cards being dished out by the referee.
With Atlético Madrid looking set to take home their first ever Champions League trophy and only three minutes of added time left to play, disaster struck in the form of a headed effort by Sergio Ramos off of a brilliant Luca Modric corner.
Extra time had to be played with both sides sitting on one goal a piece. The situation only worsened for Atlético from this point in time.
Cortois produced a fine save, denying Di Maria’s low strike, only to be passed by a clinical header from Gareth Bale, with the Welshman’s header finding the top right corner. After three earlier wasted chances, Bale had finally justified his title as the most expensive player in the league, potentially sending Real home with the title.
Marcelo, coming off of the bench, struck a powerful low shot just off centre to add to Atlético Madrid’s woes. The score was sitting at 3-1 when a poor effort on Christiano Ronaldo in the box afforded Real a penalty kick. Ronaldo sunk it with ease and that was it, La Decima was now a reality for the most powerful force in European football.
One has to think that Atlético Madrid will be disappointed with the result, as it was not a fair reflection of the entire match, but a new force is rising in Spanish football and it will be interesting to see how they perform in years to come.