Real Madrid have been crowned kings of Europe for the third consecutive year, with the Spanish giants overcoming a plucky Liverpool side 3-1 in the Champions League final in Kiev.
Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane traded second-half strikes before super-sub Gareth Bale netted a brace to decide the game in the holders’ favour.
Injury to Mo Salah impacted Liverpool’s chances but in the end Madrid had too much big-game experience for the Premier League team.
Here are three observations from the game.
Madrid’s strength in depth key to victory
There is no doubt that Salah’s injury was a hammer blow to Liverpool’s chances, especially after the Reds started the game as the brighter side.
However, the Egyptian coming off the pitch also highlighted the lack of strength in depth at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal.
Liverpool opted for Adam Lallana as Salah’s replacement, despite the Englishman not being match fit, over the inexperienced Dominic Solanke.
Compare this to Madrid’s ability to introduce a game-changer like Bale and the disparity in resources becomes clear.
Mane excels but Karius freezes
Although Salah did not get a chance to show the world what he is fully capable of, fellow forward Mane put in an impressive performance.
Not only did the Senegalese attacker score Liverpool’s equaliser, but the flying winger continually beat Madrid players and got himself into dangerous positions.
Salah has been the superstar for the Reds this season and hogged the headlines but Mane also deserves credit for playing his part in an exciting season.
On the flip side of that coin, Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius had a nightmare 90 minutes that will stay with him for the rest of his life.
The German goalkeeper has been continually questioned since arriving in England but has improved over recent months.
However, the manner in which Karius gifted Benzema the Madrid opener, and conceded Bale’s second in particular, may force Klopp into a rethink summer.
Bale’s heroics mean Madrid exit now unlikely
Bale was the most-expensive player in world football when he swapped Tottenham Hotspur for Madrid back in 2013 and the Welshman has had ups and downs during his time in the Spanish capital.
While injuries have taken their toll, there is little disputing the flying attacker’s sublime ability – which was on show as he scored an incredible scissor kick to break Liverpool hearts.
Speculation that Bale could leave Madrid this summer has been rife in the press over recent months, but his performance in Kiev has seen his price tag jump considerably.
With Madrid triumphant due to the Wales international’s individual feats, the European champions will surely now keep their hero at the Santiago Bernabeu.