Ronaldo holds nerve in shoot-out as Real crowned kings of Europe
Atletico Madrid, looking to clinch their first ever Champions League cup, displayed great passion and courage. However, they fell just short of the title when they faced Real Madrid in the penalty shootout. Lucas Vasquez, Marcelo and Gareth Bale shot on target for Real while Antoine Griezmann, Gabi and Saul Niguez netted the ball for Atletico for the three penalty shots. Real skipper Sergio Ramos then sent the ball swiftly into the but, but Atletico fullback Juanfran missed his penalty kick as his shot hit the upright. Cristiano Ronaldo finally sealed the deal for the Los Blancos with his final penalty kick being spot on.
Early in the game, Sergio Ramos found the back of the net. In the 15th minute, Toni Kroos took a free kick from the left flank into the penalty box which was headed by Bale towards the goal post. Ramos just tapped in the ball and the Madristas had the first goal to celebrate. Atletico Madrid, after the initial hiccup, built back their squad and launched many attacks at the Real goal but were unable to convert any. Zidane set up a clear tactic to nullify Atletico’s counter attacking ability where he had a defined shape at the back that made sure that the Real defenders won’t be caught short in numbers.
By the end of the first half, Real Madrid clearly had more control of the game and the history was seeing a turnaround from the last time the two teams were at the same junction. While two years ago, Atletico were leading after half time, this time it was the Los Blancos.
Atletico Madrid turned around their fortunes as the second half began. They looked a much stronger team and created constant pressure on the Real goal. In the 78th minute, Real Madrid got a brilliant opportunity to almost seal the game when Oblak came out of his way to stop Bale, but despite double efforts, Atletico’s defenders held the post and didn’t let Real’s ball pass. Just the next minute, Atletico got their breakthrough as Gabi sent a wonderful scoop to Juanfran who picked out a beautiful first time cross for Yannick Carrasco. Carrasco slotted home from the close range getting ahead of Vasquez.
In the latter part of the game, including the extra-time, the players looked fatigued and Atletico particularly suffered there as they lacked options from the bench.
The penalties, where Real Madrid clearly had an upper hand, proved a happy deal for the Whites as they snatched the Champions League crown from Atletico yet again and ended their season with a precious win.
When the Real Madrid campaign was going downhill with Rafa Benitez in charge, Zinedine Zidane arrived as a saviour and raised the team to the top. He became the first French manager to win the Champions League and just the seventh footballer to have won the trophy both as a player and a manager.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez expressed his happiness over the remarkable win but also said, “I feel a bit of pain for Atletico for the effort they put in and that they lost this way.”
Apart from individual records by Real Madrid players, the club has earned the feat that no other club has and that is exactly what the fans live for.