Saturday, Spanish Football’s Real Madrid won its tenth Champions League title defeating city neighbors Atletico Madrid 4-1 in Lisbon.
The match was tense and foul ridden, as all Atletico games are. Twelve yellow cards were handed out and a couple could have been red.
Atletico’s coach, Diego Simeone, kept Arda Turan in street clothes but started Diego Costa, only to quickly substitute him. Meanwhile Real coach, Carlo Ancelotti, played a clearly less than fully fit Cristiano Ronaldo together with a tentative Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, while Pepe sat on the bench. Real’s midfield included Luka Modric, Angel di Maria, and Sami Khedira, who was also not match fit and was replaced in the second half.
The first goal was Atletico’s, a Diego Godin header that bounced slowly into the goal off a rare Iker Casillas mistake. The keeper came out and then stopped short allowing the Uruguayan defender to head into an empty net.
The game developed into Simeone’s dream libretto as scoring in one minute and containing the other 89 has been his team’s MO. But fans at this Portuguese-hosted match soon found out that there is a new star rising in that other Iberian nation and his name is Sergio Ramos. He of the inspirational goal scoring against Bayern Munich.
As the referee added five minutes to the end of the 90 minute match co-best man of the match Ramos took his one chance, and headed in the equalizer at the 93rd, sending the game into extra time.
The first half of extra time was as tight, rough and foul filled as the entire game had been and few opportunities ensued as both sides seemed more intent on reaching the second half with some energy left rather than dissipate it in the first and risk being overcome in the second.
Then came the second and Real Madrid’s libretto took over.
At the 110th minute, the co-best man on the pitch, di Maria, cut through half the Atletico defense and unleashed a shot keeper Thibaut Courtois could only parry with a kick save. The ball bounced up and toward goal where Bale, unmarked, headed home. Real 2, Atletico 1.
Soon thereafter, at the 118th, it was Marcelo who took a shot from the top of the box, by the half-moon, that Courtois could only partially block, and the ball found the net for a 3-1 Real advantage.
Finally, at the 120th, Ronaldo was brought down in the box and took his own penalty to emphatically complete the scoring and the rout. Only it was as even as game as could be imagined for all but the latter ten minutes out of 120.
Real won their Decima and Ancelotti will reap the rewards of keeping his bosses and players happy. Now almost every player involved in this final can go home and lick their wounds, and prepare themselves for the bigger championship looming next month.