Liverpool's treble cup bid crushed by Real Madrid and Courtois

A remarkable 14th European Cup for the Spanish giants, under the guidance of Carlo Ancelotti
Liverpool's treble cup bid crushed by Real Madrid and Courtois

Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois celebrates winning the UEFA Champions League. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

LIVERPOOL were denied a seventh European crown as Real Madrid became kings of the continent once again thanks to Vinicius Junior's strike in a Champions League final marred by chaos outside the Stade de France.

Paris stepped in as host after UEFA stripped St Petersburg of the showpiece following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but it did not provide a fitting host as European royalty went toe-to-toe in the biggest club match of the season.

Kick-off had to be delayed by 36 minutes due to substantial security issues outside the Stade de France, where Liverpool would be edged out 1-0 in a tense, engaging final settled by Real star Vinicius Jr.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds were unable to find a response to the second-half strike as Carlo Ancelotti, managing a record fifth Champions League final just a year after leaving Everton, oversaw the Spanish giants' 14th European Cup triumph.

It was a heartbreaking end to a memorable season for Liverpool, who won the Carabao Cup and FA Cup before being pipped to the Premier League title by a point and losing in the French capital.

Liverpool had settled quickest in Paris, where Thibaut Courtois denied Mohamed Salah - a man in search of revenge following his injury in the 2018 defeat to Real - before tipping a Sadio Mane strike onto the post.

Karim Benzema, this season's Champions League top scorer, saw a goal ruled out for offside just before half-time and the LaLiga champions caught Liverpool napping in the 59th minute, landing a match-winning blow.

Vinicius Jr snuck behind Trent Alexander-Arnold to turn home Federico Valverde's low cross and Courtois produced one of the best performances of his life to keep Liverpool at bay.

Salah led the charge for an equaliser that never arrived on a night that will be remembered by many for the farce outside the Stade de France, which led Liverpool to request a formal investigation midway through the final.

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