It was the 14th UEFA Cup for Spanish football power house, Real Madrid, as Vinicius Junior scored the only goal of the game to beat Liverpool 1-0 in Saturday’s Champions League final in Paris.
Kick off for the game was delayed over half an hour.
The 21-year-old Brazilian turned in Federico Valverde’s enticing low cross in the 59th minute at the Stade de France and the Reds could not find an equalizer as Jurgen Klopp’s side lost to the Spanish giants in a Champions League final for the second time in five seasons.
Liverpool had the better of the first half, with Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah forcing Courtois into an excellent save early on two different occasions in search of the opener.
Real, meanwhile, created almost nothing in the first half with Karim Benzema quiet, but their captain briefly thought he had got the breakthrough two minutes before the interval but the offside flag was raised after decision to disallow the goal was upheld for a lengthy VAR check, despite Fabinho deflecting Valverde’s touch through to Benzema.
Yet Ancelotti’s side kept their nerve and were rewarded with the goal as the hour mark approached. Just like in 2018, Real had drawn first blood, but this time there was no need for them to send on Gareth Bale in order to ensure victory. Courtois was superb, flying to his right to keep out a Salah curler before two saves in quick succession late on.
The Anfield side will wonder what might have been had the outstanding Thibaut Courtois not made those saves, as they fell short of a trophy treble in the end to become the ninth English runner-up in the last 17 years of the competition.
The Reds had won the English League Cup and FA Cup this season, missed out to Manchester City for the Premier League title and were denied a victory here which would have put them level with AC Milan on seven European Cups.
Instead Los Blancos have a fifth Champions League in nine seasons to go with their Spanish title, as Carlo Ancelotti becomes the first coach to win European club football’s greatest prize for a fourth time.
Ancelotti was also in charge of Real when they won the 2014 final having also triumphed with AC Milan in 2003 and in 2007, the latter victory coming against Liverpool.
There was off football issues when the match kicked off 35 minutes later than the planned 9:00pm (1900 GMT) start in the French capital after chaos at some entrances to the stadium led to fans being unable to get to their seats.
European soccer’s governing body UEFA issued a statement late on Saturday blaming fake tickets for causing the issue.
“In the lead-up to the game, the turnstiles at the Liverpool end became blocked by thousands of fans who had purchased fake tickets which did not work in the turnstiles,” UEFA said.
“This created a build-up of fans trying to get in. As a result, the kick off was delayed by 35 minutes to allow as many fans as possible with genuine tickets to gain access.
“As numbers outside the stadium continued to build up after kick off, the police dispersed them with tear gas and forced them away from the stadium.
“UEFA is sympathetic to those affected by these events and will further review these matters urgently together with the French police and authorities, and with the French Football Federation.”