Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in the Champions League Final, a match that was defined by terrible injuries, humiliating mistakes, and an all-time great goal. It was, in a word, bonkers.
Dueling injuries to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Madrid’s Dani Carvajal spoiled the first half, and both players made tearful early exits. The last competitive club game of the season could have lasting repercussions for Egypt and Spain, as Salah and Carvajal’s national teams anxiously await the players’ statuses ahead of the World Cup.
Salah and Carvajal’s absences were massive, but it was the presence (and lack of awareness) of Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius that decided the match. Madrid opened the scoring in the second half thanks to a humiliating mistake from Karius, who threw the ball off the foot of a lurking Karim Benzema and watched it roll behind him and over the line.
In yet another cruel development for Karius, the ground didn’t open up and swallow him whole, and so he had to keep playing for the remainder of the match.
Liverpool’s Sadio Mané converted a close-range volley to bring Liverpool level, but the celebrations were short-lived. Having already benefited from the worst goal in Champions League Final history, Real Madrid took the lead with one of the best overhead kicks you will ever see.
Was it the greatest goal in Champions League Final history? Juventus’ Mario Mandžukić scored in similarly acrobatic fashion in last year’s final, and Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane’s winner against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 was the most technically pristine volley ever broadcast on color television.
Picking the winner of that lot may be tough, but Madrid’s third goal against Liverpool on Saturday won’t join those efforts on any “best goals” lists. Once again, Karius was at fault, as he allowed a well-struck Bale shot to skid off his gloves and into the net.
Real Madrid hoisted the trophy—their third straight in the competition—after the final whistle. Karius, meanwhile, collapsed in tears, but he was able to pull himself together to apologize to the Liverpool fans who’d made the journey to Kiev. Liverpool, which shares its ownership group with the Boston Red Sox, has its very own Bill Buckner now. Let’s hope everyone who suffered an injury on Saturday, whether physical or psychological , makes a full and fast recovery.