Zidane revels in Real Madrid’s ‘unbelievable’ Champions League achievement

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane revealed his team could not yet fully appreciate what they had achieved after winning the Champions League for a third consecutive season.

Madrid claimed their 13th title in Europe’s top-tier competition thanks to Saturday’s triumph in Kiev, defeating Liverpool 3-1 with a huge helping hand from Reds goalkeeper Loris Karius. 

Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane traded goals early in the second half before Gareth Bale came off the bench and sealed Madrid’s place in history with two goals – the first an overhead kick and arguably the greatest seen in the competition.

It capped another fine European campaign for Madrid, despite finishing third behind La Liga champions Barcelona, as they became the first team to win the trophy in three successive seasons since Bayern Munich (1974-1976).

Zidane – who celebrated winning his ninth piece of silverware as Madrid boss having replaced Rafael Benitez in 2016 – told BT Sport: “I feel great emotions. To live this and win three Champions League titles with this club and this team is magnificent.

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“It’s an unbelievable feeling and we don’t quite realise what we have achieved yet.

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“Gareth’s goal is magnificent, congratulations to him.

“We’re going to think about what we’ve achieved and enjoy the moment. We had a complicated season but to finish with this great joy makes us really happy.

“This is the status of this club, it’s a legendary club. A club that have won 13 Champions Leagues so, of course, I’m happy to be part of this history too.”


Giggs praises Bale’s ‘amazing’ Champions League goal

Wales manager Ryan Giggs praised Gareth Bale’s “amazing” first goal in the Champions League final and says the Real Madrid player deserves to be called the best Wales international ever.

Just minutes after coming into a match tied at 1-1, Bale unleashed a stunning overhead kick from outside the box and found the back of the net to put Los Blancos back in front. He capitalised on a mistake from Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius to score a second and ice the match in the 83rd minute.

Bale’s goal set off celebrations in Los Angeles where Wales’ squad is preparing to face Mexico in a friendly match Monday and gathered to watch the game before training.

“Amazing. The team and all the staff were watching it at the team hotel and just went it in the room erupted, really. It was an amazing goal, a couple of minutes after coming on,” Giggs said. “But you’re not that surprised in one respect because of what Gareth’s done and what he’s already achieved. Amazing scenes, and it was great that all the team could watch it and celebrate together.”

“It was one of those moments where everybody kept watching the replay, all sorts of noises coming out. It was a special moment,” Giggs continued.

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Perhaps it was even more than a special moment, though. Giggs joined the chorus wondering if the goal may be one of the best ever to have been scored in European competition.

“Zidane is the manager, the goal that he scored at Hamden Park, one of those goals where you just go, ‘Wow’ and it was one of those moments for Gareth,” he said. “It’s up there with the best Champions League goals ever, European Cup goals when it was the European competition. It’s just an amazing impact, amazing goal, but that’s what he’s capable of.”

Giggs, a Manchester United legend who represented Wales more than 60 times, said the goals and a fourth Champions League crown with Real Madrid solidify the 28-year-old’s status as the top Welsh player of all-time.

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“He’s the greatest I’ve seen,” Giggs said. “Obviously I didn’t see John Charles or many others around that time, but he’s the greatest that I’ve seen. Great players turn up at the right moments and make the difference. He’s done it twice in Champions League finals. To win four, to go to Real Madrid and be so successful, yeah, he’s got to be.”

Bale now begins his off-season while the rest of his international team-mates take on Mexico and continue preparations for the launch of the UEFA Nations League in September. Giggs is looking forward to Bale taking part but said Bale’s club future was up to him to decide with many reports linking him with a move away from La Liga.

“I’ve always maintained that he looks happy at Real Madrid. It’s a great club and obviously a successful one. It’s Gareth’s choice obviously,” he said.” He’s made the difference today in a Champions League final. Whether that has any bearing on it, I don’t know, but we just have to wait and see.”


Modric: Real Madrid have built a dynasty like Bulls, Celtics and Lakers

Luka Modric boasted that Real Madrid have created a dynasty like NBA trio the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers following their third consecutive Champions League crown.

Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid continued their stranglehold on the Champions League with a 3-1 win over Liverpool in Saturday’s final in Kiev, where Reds goalkeeper Loris Karius made two key errors.

Gareth Bale came off the bench and scored twice – including a stunning overhead kick – as Spanish giants Madrid became the first team to claim three successive titles in Europe’s top-tier competition since Bayern Munich between 1974 and 1976.

And Croatia midfielder Modric likened Madrid’s achievements to historic basketball franchises the Bulls, Celtics and Lakers.

The Bulls twice won three straight titles between 1991-1993 and 1996-1998, the Celtics won eight in a row from 1959 to 1966, and the Lakers won four titles in five years during the 1950s, while they also dominated the NBA in the 1990s and early 2000s.

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“It’s something unbelievable, it’s something historic,” Modric told BT Sport. “I don’t know if anyone will repeat this in the future. It will be very difficult

“Twice was something amazing but this is heroics. We watched a movie yesterday about basketball teams like Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers.

“When they won it three times in a row and they called it a dynasty. I think this it is a dynasty in football

“We are champions and we need to enjoy this.”

Modric, whose Madrid claimed a 13th trophy in the tournament, added: “Every title is special. The first one was after a wait of 12 or 13 years to win it for Real Madrid. Every trophy is special.

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“This one, third in a row. I don’t think anyone will repeat this.

“We have to enjoy it firstly and then prepare for next season and go for a fourth in a row.”


Where would Cristiano go? Benzema predicts Ronaldo stay

Karim Benzema believes Cristiano Ronaldo will stay at Real Madrid despite the superstar hinting he is considering leaving.

After Gareth Bale’s brace earned a 3-1 win over Liverpool in Kiev, the Portugal star suggested he is thinking about departing Madrid , who lifted the Champions League for the third year in a row.

Ronaldo’s interview was shrugged off by coach Zinedine Zidane , while captain Sergio Ramos described the 33-year-old as “indispensable” to Madrid.

And Benzema, who capitalised on the first of two Loris Karius howlers to give Madrid the lead, feels Ronaldo will remain in the Spanish capital.

“Where will Cristiano go?” Benzema said.

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“He stays with us, we need Cristiano.”

A fourth Champions League crown in five years asserts Madrid as the dominant European team of the era .

But Benzema did not miss the opportunity to fire a barb at rivals Barcelona, who won a domestic double.

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“Very important night for us,” Benzema added. “We are very happy.

“Now we are making history, we are going to continue, we have a formidable group.

“I am very proud of the season because we have the most important title.”


Klopp confirms Salah injury ‘really serious’ as Liverpool wait on shoulder update

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that the injury suffered by Mohamed Salah during a Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid is “really serious”.

The Egyptian forward, who has been a talismanic presence for the Reds throughout the 2017-18 campaign, lasted less than half-an-hour in Kiev before being forced from the field.

After tangling with Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, Salah left the field in tears as his European dreams came crashing down before those of his team-mates followed on an evening to forget.

Klopp revealed afterwards that the 25-year-old had been taken to hospital for medical tests, with Liverpool and Egypt now waiting anxiously to discover the full severity of a shoulder problem.

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The Reds boss told reporters in the wake of a 3-1 defeat: “It’s a really serious injury and the shock of the boys was obvious. We dropped a bit too deep.

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“He is in a hospital for an X-ray. I think it’s either the collar bone or the shoulder itself. It doesn’t look good. That’s it.”

More to follow…