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REACTION: 'I don't get enough respect' says Real's Courtois after stunning performance denies rampant Reds

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28th May, 2022
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Real Madrid are European champions for a record-extending 14th time after beating Liverpool 1-0 in a Champions League final that started 37 minutes late because of disturbing crowd issues outside the Stade de France in Paris.

Brazil winger Vinícius Júnior applied a close-range finish in the 59th minute from Federico Valverde’s drive across the face of goal, securing a Saturday night win that gave Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti a record fourth European Cup title.

While Madrid completed a Champions League-La Liga double, Liverpool finished a season that promised so much – a week ago, they were in contention for an unprecedented quadruple of major trophies – with just the two domestic cups in England.

The English team couldn’t find a way past Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who tipped Sadio Mane’s first-half shot onto the post and produced an even better save to turn away Mohamed Salah’s effort in the 81st.

“Today nobody was going to get in my way,” Courtois said. “I was going to win a Champions League no matter what.”

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The former Chelsea goalkeeper made several excellent saves, particularly in a first half the Reds dominated.

Vinicius Jr then scored the winning goal after the break for Real.

“I said that when Madrid plays finals, they win. I was on the good side of history,” Courtois said.

“I saw a lot of tweets coming my way that I would get humbled today – it was the other way round.”

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The 30-year-old Belgium international won two Premier League titles with Chelsea as well as an FA Cup and has now added a Champions League winner medal to two La Liga titles with Real.

In the Champions League this season, he kept five clean sheets and made 59 saves, with a save percentage of 80.56.

Courtois made nine saves against Liverpool – the most on record (since 2003-04) of any goalkeeper in a single Champions League final.

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“Today I needed to win a final for my career, for all the hard work to put respect on my name as I don’t think I get enough respect, especially in England,” he added on BT Sport.

“I saw a lot of criticism even after a great season.

“I am really proud of the team. We stuck to it and when I needed to be there I was there for the team.”

Madrid underlined their status as the kings of European soccer, given the Spanish giant own double the number of European Cups as the No.2 on the list, AC Milan.

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And this time, there was no need for the kind of stirring comeback that the Spanish giant had to produce in getting past Paris Saint-Germain, defending champion Chelsea and Manchester City in the knockout stage.

It might go down as the most grueling run to the title in the long history of the competition.

“I have a strong feeling we will come again. The boys are competitive. We will have an outstanding group next season,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.

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“Where’s it [the final] next season? Istanbul? Book the hotel.”

While the Reds complete the campaign with two trophies, Klopp admitted it was too soon for his players to be able appreciate what they have achieved.

“In the dressing room nobody feels it was a great season at the moment,” Klopp added on BT Sport. “We maybe need a few hours for that.

“We played a good game, not a perfect game. The boys tried everything, especially at 1-0 down then we played like we wanted to play before.”

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson admitted the defeat was a difficult one to take.

“The dressing room is quiet, devastated,” the Scotland left-back said. “That is what happens when you don’t win finals.

“We had chances, came up against an unbelievable keeper. Being honest though, we could have played better.

“We are a pressing team, it has worked so much for us but we have been caught [at the] back post and that’s football.

“It is hard to get back in the game playing against against a very experienced team, they know how to see out a game.”

For many, especially Liverpool fans, pre-match crowd issues overshadowed this final, though, and are sure to be the focus of an investigation by UEFA and authorities in the coming days.

Riot police fired tear gas and pepper spray at supporters waiting in long lines to get into European soccer’s showpiece game, whose kickoff was delayed.

UEFA blamed the chaos on people trying to get into the stadium without legitimate tickets, without providing details on where they could be from.

“In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of fans who purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles,” UEFA said in a statement.

Some fans climbed fences surround the stadium to get in. Others barged their way past security and sprinted onto the concourse before getting wrestled to the ground.

Riot police with batons and riot shields ran from gate to gate to prevent pockets of fans forcing their way into the stadium.

“I’ve got really bad asthma and I’ve been tear gassed twice,” Liverpool fan Angela Murphy told The Associated Press through a fence. “I’m really struggling.”

The scenes were reminiscent of the chaos outside Wembley Stadium before the European Championship final last year between England and Italy.

© AAP

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