Real Madrid claim 'La Decima' in dramatic and enthralling finale
Published 24/05/2014 | 22:51
Gareth Bale finally helped Real Madrid fulfil the dream of 'La Decima', securing a memorable 10th Champions League triumph with an extra-time win against neighbours Atletico Madrid.
Born in Wales, raised in Southampton and honed at Tottenham, the 24-year-old continued to make light of his world-record fee by scoring a goal that will write him into club history.
Bale looked set to pay for a woeful first-half miss but instead capped a remarkable first season at Real by heading home to make it 2-1 in extra time, before Carlo Ancelotti's men eased away to a 4-1 win.
The Wales winger looked like he would pay for missing a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring midway through the first half as shortly afterwards captain Iker Casillas misread a ball back into the box and was unable to claw back Diego Godin's header before it crossed the line.
It looked to be enough to secure a famous double for Los Rojiblancos until the third minute of stoppage time, when Sergio Ramos powered home a leveller - his sixth goal in seven outings.
That was a sucker-punch for Atletico, without top scorer Diego Costa since the ninth minute, and one they failed to recover from, with summer signing Bale heading Real ahead in the second-half of extra time.
Substitute Marcelo's strike and a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo added extra gloss to the scoreline at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, securing Real's 10th European Cup crown and Ancelotti's third as manager, seeing him join Liverpool's Bob Paisley in the record books.
Counterpart Diego Simeone, so close to victory, lost it in the closing stages as he confronted Raphael Varane at the end of a memorable first cross-city showpiece in the 59-year history of the competition.
Heading into the game, the big news was Costa's inclusion in the Atletico starting line-up.
The Spain striker limped off with a hamstring injury during last weekend's Primera Division decider at Barcelona, but was given the green light after reportedly going through horse placenta treatment.
However, that gamble did not pay off as he lasted just nine minutes before appearing to suffer a recurrence of his hamstring complaint and being replaced by Adrian Lopez.
It was a terrible start for Atletico but they soon managed the first shot of the evening as Raul Garcia blazed over, but the match was unable to match the intensity with quality.
Gabi and Fabio Coentrao went head-to-head as frustration boiled over, as it did again as Garcia was booked for a poor challenge on Di Maria, which saw Ramos booked for reacting.
The resulting free-kick from Ronaldo was easily gathered by Thibaut Courtois, with Bale then missing a gilt-edged chance to net the opener.
Intercepting a poor cross-field pass from captain Tiago, the Welsh winger raced through on goal and looked set to score, only to send his send his curling effort just wide.
It was a chance they were made to rue four minutes later as Casillas was caught in no man's land.
After Gabi's initial corner was cleared, Godin beat Sami Khedira to nod a Juanfran's looped header back into the box goalwards, catching out the onrushing Casillas, whose attempt to claw the ball away before it crossed the line failed.
Adrian flashed a header over the bar as Simeone's side looked to extend their advantage, with Garcia hooking over when play resumed for the second half.
Courtois tipped over Ronaldo's 25-yard free-kick with Real's first chance of the second half, before the Portuguese failed with attempts from the two resulting corners that followed.
Adrian saw a shot deflect just wide but Ancelotti's side had now upped the ante, with a Ramos cross just evaded Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, with Isco and Bale then striking wide.
Ronaldo volleyed over under pressure and Bale dragged wide again, before a wonderful Godin tackle denied Isco a glorious opportunity as the match entered the final 10 minutes.
More heroic defending from Juanfran and Miranda kept Real out, but Ramos rescued Real and ensured the match would go to extra time in third minute of stoppage time.
Having dealt so well with everything thrown at them, Atleti were finally undone in as Ramos met a Luka Modric corner with a wonderful header that found the net.
Substitute Marcelo was enjoying a lot of joy down the left in a tight first-period of extra time, although a blocked Ronaldo free-kick and a Varane header were the only moments of note.
Modric had a shot blocked in the second half before Real finally got the breakthrough.
Courtois produced a fine save low to deny Di Maria's strike following a superb run, only for Bale to power a header into the top corner.
It was a marvellous goal and no less than Real deserved, although the goals that followed were harsh on their rivals.
Substitute Marcelo, afforded time to dart forward, struck past Atletico's Belgian goalkeeper, before Ronaldo dusted himself down after being taken out by Gabi to make it 4-1 from the spot.
Simeone was involved in an ugly on-field spat with Varane before the final whistle, but that could take the gloss off the wonderful end to the match.