PARIS: Real Madrid became European champion for a record-extending 14th time after beating Liverpool 1-0 in a Champions League final that started 37 minutes late because of disturbing crowd issues outside the Stade de France on Saturday.
Brazil winger Vinícius Júnior applied a close-range finish in the 59th minute from Federico Valverde’s drive across the face of goal, securing a win that gave Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti a record fourth European Cup title.
While Madrid completed a Champions League-La Liga double, Liverpool finished a season that promised so much — a week ago, it was in contention for an unprecedented quadruple of major trophies — with just the two domestic cups in England.
The English team couldn’t find a way past Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who tipped Sadio Mane’s first-half shot onto the post and produced an even better save to turn away Mohamed Salah’s effort in the 81st.
“Today nobody was going to get in my way,” Courtois said. “I was going to win a Champions League no matter what.”
Vinicius sank to his knees and covered his face at fulltime. Many of his teammates sprinted the length of the field to celebrate in front of Madrid’s fans at one end of the stadium.
Marcelo, Madrid’s serial winner of trophies who didn’t even play a minute of the final, was given the honor of lifting the trophy to a backdrop of fireworks and tickertape.
Madrid underlined its status as the king of European soccer, given the Spanish giant owns double the number of European Cups as the No. 2 on the list, AC Milan.
And this time, there was no need for the kind of stirring comeback that the Spanish giant had to produce in getting past Paris Saint-Germain, defending champion Chelsea and Manchester City in the knockout stage.
It might go down as the most grueling run to the title in the long history of the competition.
For many, especially Liverpool fans, pre-match crowd issues overshadowed this final, though, and are sure to be the focus of an investigation by UEFA and authorities in the coming days.
Riot police fired tear gas and pepper spray at supporters waiting in long lines to get into European soccer’s showpiece game, whose kickoff was delayed.
UEFA blamed the chaos on people trying to get into the stadium without legitimate tickets, without providing details on where they could be from.
“In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of fans who purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles,” UEFA said in a statement.
Some fans climbed fences surround the stadium to get in. Others barged their way past security and sprinted onto the concourse before getting wrestled to the ground.
Riot police with batons and riot shields ran from gate to gate to prevent pockets of fans forcing their way into the stadium.
“I’ve got really bad asthma and I’ve been tear gassed twice,” Liverpool fan Angela Murphy told The Associated Press through a fence. “I’m really struggling.”
About 15 minutes before the scheduled kickoff of 9 p.m. local time, an announcement was made that there would be a delay. It was greeted by jeers inside the stadium.
The scenes were reminiscent of the chaos outside Wembley Stadium before the European Championship final last year between England and Italy.