Liverpool beat Salzburg in wild 7-goal thriller

Bale stunner and Karius howlers give Real historic hat-trick

26/05/2018

Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 to win the Champions League for a third successive season thanks to a spectacular two-goal substitute appearance from Gareth Bale and a performance to forget for Loris Karius.

Bale, who had been controversially left on the bench despite his recent good form, scored twice in a final packed full of memorable moments for good and bad reasons.

Liverpool started strongly without creating any real chances of note but were dealt a major blow when Mohamed Salah went off injured in the 29th minute.

The Egypt international, who has scored 44 goals in all competitions this season, hurt his left shoulder while battling for the ball with Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.

Salah attempted to continue but went down to the turf once again before he left the pitch in tears to be replaced by Adam Lallana.

Soon after Dani Carvajal was forced to depart for Madrid through injury. He hurt his hamstring when he tried a backheel to Ronaldo.

Minutes before half-time Madrid thought they had taken the lead when Karim Benzema fired home from close range after Karius had parried a Cristiano Ronaldo header, but the was ruled out for offside against Ronaldo.

Moments later Benzema was influential again when he teed up Nacho who fired into the side-netting as Madrid stepped up, while the break couldn't come soon enough for Liverpool who were reeling from the loss of their talisman.

Three minutes into the second-half Isco struck the crossbar when he should have scored but the breakthrough came in the 51st minute in unfortunate circumstances for Liverpool goalkeeper Karius.

After collecting a through ball from Toni Kroos, Karius attempted to throw the ball out only for Benzema to stretch a leg out and poke the ball home.

It didn't take Liverpool long to get back on level terms. Dejan Lovren headed goalward from a corner and Sadio Mane nipped in front of Keylor Navas to poke home.

Much of the talk prematch had been about Zinedine Zidane's decision to leave Bale on the bench, but he was introduced in the 60th minute for Isco.

And he wasted no time in underlining his continued importance to Madrid with a stunning overhead kick that restored their lead within four minutes of his entrance.

Mane struck the foot of the post with a driven effort from outside the box in the 70th minute as Liverpool tried to warn Madrid that the tie was not over.

But a second mistake from Karius, who spilled a long shot from Bale into his net in the 83rd minute, sealed victory for Madrid and a 13th European Cup success.

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