Real Madrid 3 Liverpool 1
Benzema 51 Mane 55 Bale 64 Bale 83
Liverpool dominated the first 25 minutes, making the European Champions look old and slow, as I had hoped.
In the first minute, when Liverpool threatened, Raphael Varane glided elegantly across his penalty area to guide the ball beyond Sadio Mane.
As I’m sure you know, Varane is world class class class.
When Ronaldo cut in from the right flank he took on a shot from a stupid angle, aiming high inside the near post. But the ball zoomed just over the bar.
After a nice Liverpool move on the left, Milner hit a low cross into the box and Firmino managed a good turn and hit from 13 yards that bounced off Ramos to raiding right back Trent Alexander-Arnold, whose his missile flew between the legs of Ramos and required Keylor Navas to make an electrifying stop with his right wrist and Costa Rica’s keeper then fell on the ball and clutched it to his body.
Fantastic goalkeeping like this is what we expect to see in club football’s biggest game of 2018.
As Salah tried to scoot away from Ramos in centrefield, Ramos touched the ball to Kroos and then pinned Salah’s arm close to his own ribs, so the Liverpool star’s arm was gripped in a wrestling hold. Ramos knew exactly what he was doing. As both men crashed to the deck, Salah’s hand hit the ground and a shock wave flashed up into his shoulder and he was finished.
A ruthless thug had crippled Mo Salah.
Disgusted, I jumped to my feet and said, “Game over!” and walked out of the room.
We were at a friend’s house in Primrose Hill and the back door was open and I went into the garden and heard some music coming from a group of drinkers sitting on the far side of the canal and I stayed outside for a few minutes.
“Has he gone off on a stretcher?” was the question I asked when I went back inside.
“No, he’s running about,” was the reply.
A few moments after the Footballer of the Year went off in tears and was replaced by Adam Lallana, who has hardly played all season.
Game over. Definitely.
Then Karius parried a Ronaldo header and Benzema netted from five yards but the flag went up. A Nacho volley hit the side-netting and although it was 0-0 at half-time it was obvious that Liverpool could not win.
Right back Trent Alexander-Arnold played a crazy ball infield, Lallana challenged and the ball popped to Isco, whose shot rebounded from the crossbar. That was a bad miss from 12 yards.
When Tony Kroos hit an ambitious pass forward into the box it was nowhere near Benzema and keeper Karius picked the ball up and then threw the ball against the outstretched boot of Benzema and the ball bounced into the net. A kamikaze goalkeeping moment, a wholly surreal incident, perhaps more shocking than anything I have ever seen in a Champions League game
So Real Madrid were 1-0 up in 51 minutes.
But when Milner took a corner and Lovren headed down beautifully and Mane volleyed the equaliser.
So Liverpool had made 1-1 after 55.
Gareth Bale then replaced Isco in 63 and scored with his first touch.
Playmaking left back Marcelo can pass and cross with both feet and his right-foot cross came into the box behind Benzema and Ronaldo and as the ball arrived behind Bale as well, he launched himself backwards and volleyed a preposterous overhead kick that rocketed just under the crossbar.
So Real Madrid are 2-1 up in 64 minutes.
Immediately, Wijnaldum set up Mane for a left-foot shot from outside the box but the ball smacked against the far post. Left back Andy Robertson made a phenomenally well-timed tackle on Ronaldo in the box.
Bale teed up Benzema for a shot that was parried and then blasted a 30-yard shot that went through the gloves of Karius for 3-1. A second catastrophic mistake by the German keeper.
VERDICT: Salah was crippled by Ramos. Then Bale won it for Real Madrid as Karius lost it for Liverpool.
However, Klopp has a young squad who can improve next season, especially if they can call on classy new midfielders like Naby Keita (RB Leipzig) ,who will join Liverpool in a deal signed last summer.