UKRAINE, MAY 27,
With his back to goal but eyes on the incoming cross, Gareth Bale connected with the ball while leaping in the air and sent a scissor-kick arcing into the top of the net.
Fusing athleticism and technique, it was a mesmerizing sight to behold from the Real Madrid forward. Rarely has there been a finer goal in a European final and Bale followed it up with another to seal Madrid’s third successive Champions League title in a 3-1 victory over Liverpool on Saturday. Yet with blunders, injuries and intrigue unfolding throughout the night in Kiev’s Olympic Stadium, the wonder-goal just enriched this engrossing climax to the European club season and set the tone for weeks of uncertainty. A weeping Mohamed Salah was forced off in the first half with a shoulder injury that foiled Liverpool’s quest for a first continental success in 13 years and left the World Cup hopes of the “Egyptian King” in jeopardy.
Tears also streamed down Loris Karius’ face after the Liverpool goalkeeper’s mistakes gifted two goals in the biggest match of his career. It might also be his last for Liverpool, which was denied a sixth European title by the aristocrats of the continent. When all they should have been thinking about is celebrating, both Bale and teammate Cristiano Ronaldo also cast doubts on their Madrid careers.
But while Zinedine Zidane was adamant about the need to keep hold of five-time world player of the year Ronaldo, the Madrid coach seemed far less concerned about the future of the player whose two goals just delivered the club’s record-extending 13th European title.
UKRAINE, MAY 27,