Real Madrid wins Champions League after beating Atletico on penalties
Real Madrid won a record 11th European Cup, beating cross-city rivals Atletico on penalties, to claim the Champions League trophy at the San Siro in Milan, Italy, on Saturday night.
With Barcelona claiming the La Liga title, the Madrid rivals were fighting to end their season with silverware and it was Zinedine Zidane’s men that were celebrating at the final whistle.
Real manager Zidane – who as a player scored a memorable volley in the 2002 final when Madrid won the trophy – was visibly delighted with his team’s victory, which gave the mercurial Frenchman the European crown as his first piece of silverware as a manager.
For Diego Simeone’s Atletico side it is another hammer blow, following defeat in the final in 2014, where Atletico’s rivals claimed La Decima with victory in Lisbon.
Zidane’s men started the game as the brighter side, keeping possession crisply and testing Atletico’s goalkeeper Jan Oblak with an early Gareth Bale free-kick.
Passions threatened to spill over when Dani Carvajal scythed Antoine Griezmann down after ten minutes, with the Real right-back duly booked as Simeone remonstrated on the sidelines.
The deadlock was broken soon after as Sergio Ramos poked home from close range as Bale nodded on a Toni Kroos free-kick.
The Real Madrid captain is the bane of Atletico and was the man to equalize in injury time of Madrid’s Decima win two years ago.
Simeone’s side came back into the game after 25 minutes but the side in red and white’s first effort on goal did not come until the 33rd minute, with Griezmann’s tame effort from distance easily saved by Keylor Navas.
Simeone looked to make a change at the break, replacing Augusto Fernandez with Belgian winger Yannick Ferreira Carrasco in an attacking move.
Within two minutes of the second half Atletico were given a glorious chance to square things up when referee Mark Clattenburg awarded them a penalty following a foul by Pepe on Fernando Torres.
However, Griezmann went for power and his effort struck the underside of the Madrid crossbar before being cleared to safety.
Carvajal’s participation in Euro 2016 looks under threat as the Spanish right-back limped off soon after with a muscular injury, the Spaniard distraught to be replaced by Danilo.
Atletico pushed forward and the game opened up, with Stefan Savic poking wide from a corner and Bale shooting off target at the other end.
Madrid looked dangerous on the counter and Karim Benzema was put through on goal with 20 minutes remaining, but the French forward’s effort was saved by the impressive Oblak.
Zidane turned to his bench to freshen up his options, with Isco and Lucas Vazquez entering the fray to replace Kroos and Benzema respectively.
Madrid knew a second goal would kill the contest and Ronaldo fired directly at Oblak twice in the space of 60 seconds, while Bale had an effort cleared off the line as Atletico looked stretched.
Zidane’s men were made to rue these misses as Carrasco levelled things up with ten minutes remaining, slotting home from a volleyed Juanfran cross to send the Atletico fans into rapture and the game to extra time.
Ronaldo had the first chance of extra time but headed into the hands of Oblak from close range.
Atletico looked the more likely to score a decisive goal with Carrasco impressing, but a host of players were out on their feet as cramp took its toll.
Both sides scored their first three penalties in the shootout, before Juanfran hit the post and allowed Ronaldo to win the game for his team.
A host of the competing players will now turn their attention to Euro 2016 in France, while the clubs will look to the summer recruitment market before the start of 2016-17.