Champions League final 2018: Real Madrid 3 Liverpool 1

Double worry after triple joy

Real Madrid captured the Champions League crown on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Liverpool.
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (top) indicating that he now has five Champions League trophies, with Gareth Bale's spectacular bicycle-kick goal (above) helping to secure the latest.
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (above) indicating that he now has five Champions League trophies, with Gareth Bale's spectacular bicycle-kick goal helping to secure the latest.PHOTOS: REUTERS
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (top) indicating that he now has five Champions League trophies, with Gareth Bale's spectacular bicycle-kick goal (above) helping to secure the latest.
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo indicating that he now has five Champions League trophies, with Gareth Bale's spectacular bicycle-kick goal (above) helping to secure the latest.PHOTOS: REUTERS

Bale and Ronaldo hint they may leave after leading Real to 13th European Cup success

KIEV • Luka Modric boasted that Real Madrid have created a "dynasty" like the National Basketball Association trio of the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers during their heyday, after winning their third consecutive Champions League crown.

The Spanish giants continued their stranglehold on Europe's elite club competition with a 3-1 win over Liverpool in Saturday's final, where Reds forward Mohamed Salah was forced off with a shoulder injury after just half an hour and goalkeeper Loris Karius made two key errors.

Despite the euphoria, Real could lose two key members of their royalty, after Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale cast significant doubt on their future at the club. Real secured a 13th European Cup and became the first team to win three successive titles since Bayern Munich between 1974 and 1976.

Bale, who came off the bench and scored twice, said he needed to be a regular starter and would talk to his agent about his options.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, referred to his time at the club in the past tense and said that he would make a statement in the coming days.

"I was very disappointed not to start. I felt like I deserved it, but the manager makes the decisions and what can you do?" said Bale.

  • 17

    Major trophies for Cristiano Ronaldo with Real Madrid: • 4 Champions League • 2 LaLiga • 2 Copa del Rey • 2 Spanish Super Cup • 3 European Super Cup • 4 Club World Cups

  • 44%

    Percentage of Real Madrid's total match time of 5,400 minutes that Gareth Bale played (2,361 minutes) this season. He featured in 26 of 38 games in LaLiga and just seven out of 13 in Europe.

"The best I've been doing is to come on and make an impact, and I did. Obviously, I need to be playing week in, week out and that hasn't happened this season.

"I had a five-or six-week injury at the start of the season and I've been fit ever since. I'll have to sit down in the summer and discuss it with my agent, and take it from there."

The Welshman took only three minutes after coming on for Isco in the 61st minute to make an immediate impact with a brilliant bicycle kick that left Loris Karius stranded for a 2-1 Real lead.

It was a miserable night for the German goalkeeper as he was at fault for Karim Benzema's opener just after half-time, and he then spilled Bale's long-range strike into his own net seven minutes from time to seal Liverpool's fate.

When asked if it was the best goal he had ever scored, Bale said: "I'd have to say it is, on the biggest stage in world football to score a goal like that is a dream come true."

Ronaldo, too, took the shine off Real's win by suggesting he could have played his last game for them.

"It was very nice to be in Madrid. In the next few days, I will give an answer to the fans, who have always been at my side," Ronaldo, who has now won five European Cups but failed to score in a fourth final, told beIN Sports Spain.

"This has been coming for a long time. Money is not the problem. I've won five Champions Leagues, five Ballon d'Ors. I was already in history but now even more."

He later admitted his post-match comments had been ill-timed, with Marca reporting that his team-mates, especially captain Sergio Ramos, had admonished him.

"It wasn't the perfect time. I don't want to take away any credit from what Madrid have done. To win three consecutive Champions Leagues is a unique moment," he added. "Personal situations are not important at this moment."

Ronaldo's comments appeared to target Real president Florentino Perez for a lack of support.

It is not the first time that Ronaldo has appeared close to the exit at the Santiago Bernabeu.

In 2012, he claimed to be "sad" and, even after securing a first European Cup and LaLiga double for Real in 59 years last season, he was also reportedly looking to leave.

Then, Portuguese newspaper A Bola reported he was angling for a move owing to the lack of support from the club over an ongoing Spanish tax investigation into the management of his image rights.

Perez, however, hinted that he was tired of Ronaldo's quit threats.

"Here, the most important thing is the club, and the most important thing is that we are celebrating this Champions League," Perez told Antena 3. "I am not going to go into the personal situation of any player because, as he (Ronaldo) himself says, nothing ever happens."

Ronaldo still has three years to run on a lucrative five-year contract signed in 2016 and Real coach Zinedine Zidane said: "Cristiano has to stay."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2018, with the headline 'Double worry after triple joy'. Print Edition | Subscribe