ATLETICO MADRID supporters were forced to endure flashbacks on Saturday evening (May 28) as their intercity rivals pulled ahead at the last minute to win the Champions League final only two years after they obliterated Atletico’s cup dreams in Portugal in 2014. After a fairly evenly-fought affair, the Zinedine Zidane led squad ultimately managed to take the match in penalties after the initial 1-1 draw failed to reach a resolution in extra time.
With this win, Real brings their Champions League trophy haul to 11, five times since it was rebranded in 1992-93, as well as six times in the 1950s and 1960s when it was known as the European Cup.
The match started off with several early chances for Real, with Gareth Bale’s free kick in the sixth minute almost being redirected into the goal thanks to a nifty one-two punch from Karim Benzema and Casemiro, but Atletico netminder Jan Oblak was there in a clinch to make a spectacular save. It wouldn’t be long though before Real managed to break through and find what they were looking for. Another free kick, this one coming off the boot of Toni Kroos, sent the ball sailing in to the awaiting head of Gareth Bale, who flicked it over to Sergio Ramos, as the Real captain sealed the deal at close range.
After that Atletico had to up the ante and play more aggressively, leading to a major opportunity for the squad when Pepe took Fernando Torres down inside the box shortly after halftime. Ultimately the shot by Frenchman Antoine Griezmann ricocheted off the underside of the bar, leading to screams of frustration and agony from Atletico supporters the world over.
Undeterred, Atletico continued on their hunt for that elusive goal and their hard work and determination eventually paid off in the 79th minute when a cross from Juanfran was hammered into the top of the net by a hungry Yannick Carrasco.
After that play became slightly more frantic, with tackles becoming riskier and more desperate, but ultimately neither side managed to pull ahead again, unlike the 2014 final, in which Real demolished Atletico with three goals in extra time following an equaliser in the 93rd minute.
Unfortunately though, this difference was not a sign of good things to come for Atletico, as it only meant that the loss took a bit longer to arrive this time around, and was perhaps that much more hard-hitting as a result.
The shootout got off to a rollicking start, with player after player successfully netting their balls, but eventually a visibly nervous Juanfran rushed his penalty and hit the post, leading the Real side in the stands to burst into joyous celebration, surely knowing what was lurking just around the corner.
After that it was all up to Ronaldo, who dutifully smashed his ball into the net and predictably ripped off his shirt to underscore the point, as Real supporters leapt into the air and Atletico fans hung their heads as they felt the sting of shootout sorrow.
So for now, at least, Atletico’s dreams of Champions League revenge will have to wait, at least until next year.