May 25, 2014 3:36:29 am
Real Madrid broke down Atletico Madrid’s resistance in extra time to win the Champions League final 4-1 on Saturday and finally deliver the club’s record 10th European title.
Real struck three times in the second period of extra time, through Gareth Bale’s header in the 110th minute, Marcelo’s shot in the 118th and Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty at the end.
It was an unfairly lopsided score after Atletico was on the brink of victory in regulation time, before Sergio Ramos headed in an equalizer for Real in the third minute of stoppage time.
Diego Godin had put Atletico ahead when his 35th-minute header looped into a Real goal left vacant by captain and veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas’ reckless rush out.
Atletico — which had to substitute striker Diego Costa early in the first half — then simply wore out in extra time as the team failed to follow up on the Spanish league title it secured last weekend.
Had Atletico held on for its first European title, Ronaldo and Bale would have shared the blame for a series of missed chances in the 90 minutes.
Instead, the star forwards — both signed for world-record transfer fees — have added to their storied club’s illustrious history in club football’s most prestigious competition.
Real coach Carlo Ancelotti also ties the competition record with three victories as a coach, after winning in 2003 and ’07 with AC Milan. The Italian becomes the fifth coach to win with two different clubs.
Casillas also won his third Champions League title, being the only player remaining from the club’s previous 2000 and ’02 victories.
Both teams took chances by fielding players below full fitness, and a bruising first half tested their readiness and resolve.
Ronaldo and Bale were both sent tumbling by tough tackles within three minutes, but it was Atletico’s 36-goal forward Costa who had to quit early.
Costa hobbled off after just nine minutes, making it clear that the gamble by coach Diego Simeone to put him in the starting lineup had backfired. Costa also exited last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Barcelona in the Spanish league decider and received a horse placenta treatment on his right hamstring in midweek.
Four minutes after Bale wasted Real’s best early chance, scooping a left-foot shot wide from 12 meters (yards), Godin made Real pay.
Casillas charged from his line when Juanfran lifted a high ball toward the penalty spot, and was stranded when Godin rose to loop a header toward the empty goal. The ball crossed the goal line before the veteran ‘keeper could swipe it away.
In a second half of increasingly hectic Real attacks, Ronaldo tested Thibaut Courtois with a curling free kick but was off target with a pair of headers.
Bale was guilty of a series of miscued shots with the outside of his left boot, and a handball in the Atletico penalty area that added to Real fans’ frustrations.
Atletico was less than two minutes from the title when its tough defensive line was finally breached by Ramos’ sixth goal in seven games, including two in the semifinal against defending champion Bayern Munich.
Rejuvenated by its escape, Real grouped in a team huddle before extra time, two hours after Atletico players had been locked in togetherness ahead of the first kickoff.
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