GARETH Bale came off the bench to score twice, including one of the all-time great goals in a Champions League final, as Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 in Kiev on Sunday (AEST) to take the trophy for the third year running.
Bale’s jaw-dropping overhead kick in the 64th minute put Real 2-1 up moments after his introduction, following a dramatic start to the second half in which Karim Benzema gave Real the lead as a result of a howler from Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius.
Sadio Mane had briefly restored parity, but Bale put Real in front again and then made it 3-1 late on with a long-range strike that the unfortunate Karius could only punch into the net.
Jurgen Klopp’s and Liverpool’s own evening was marred by the loss of a distraught Mohamed Salah to injury in the first half, the Egyptian coming off half an hour in having damaged his shoulder.
This was not to be Salah’s night, with Real allowing Zinedine Zidane to become the first coach ever to win the Champions League three years in a row.
Madrid are the first team to achieve that feat since Bayern Munich in 1976. This is their fourth title in five years, and their 13th overall.
Cristiano Ronaldo has now won five in his great career, but even he could not argue that this was Bale’s evening.
The Welshman had been tipped to feature in the Real starting line-up but in the end was left out for Isco — just as he had been in the final win over Juventus last year — before making an emphatic impact as a substitute.
He had only been on the pitch for three minutes when he rose to meet Marcelo’s cross in the air from outside the box, sending it flying into the net to restore Real’s lead in the 64th minute at the NSC Olympic Stadium.