|Real Madrid players and fans celebrate their Champions League victory on Saturday. (AFP-Yonhap)|
Atletico was minutes away from its first Champions League title Saturday when Sergio Ramos tied it for Real with a header in injury time. Real then broke down Atletico with three goals in the last period of extra time.
“It’s the most important goal I’ve ever scored,” Sergio Ramos said. “We made history against a great rival.”
Gareth Bale broke the tie with a header in the 110th minute, Marcelo scored in the 118th and Cristiano Ronaldo polished off the win with a penalty at the end.
|Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (right) celebrates his goal on Saturday. (AP-Yonhap)|
“Madrid was better,” said Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who lost his temper toward the end after failing to complete a La Liga-Champions League title double. “They were able to get out on the break and that hurt our chances.”
Diego Godin put Atletico ahead when his 36th-minute header looped into a Real goal left vacant by goalkeeper Casillas’ rush out.
Atletico ― which had to substitute striker Diego Costa early in the first half ― simply wore out in extra time, failing 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 some of the blame for a series of missed chances in the 90 minutes.
Instead, the star forwards added to their storied club’s illustrious history in club soccer’s most prestigious competition.
“I’ve learned from past experiences to keep going, to forget about the chances you miss and keep persevering,” Bale said. “The celebrations of the crowd meant everything to me.”
Real coach Carlo Ancelotti also tied the competition record with three victories as a coach, after winning in 2003 and 2007 with AC Milan. The Italian is the fifth coach to win with two clubs.
“The hardest thing was to tie the game because it was so tough for us at that point,” Ancelotti said. “They suffocated the space and were doing it so well. The goal gave us strength.”
Casillas also won his third Champions League title, following victories in 2000 and 2002.
After Ramos’ goal made up for his own mistake, Casillas ran deep into Atletico’s half to share a long celebratory hug with Marcelo.
Bale’s decisive goal sparked wilder celebrations, while Ronaldo pulled off his shirt before provoking tempers with a muscle-flexing pose after scoring his penalty ― extending his record for a Champions League season to 17 goals.
Simeone ― known for his fiery temper ― came on the pitch for a second time in extra time in the final minutes and confronted Real defender Raphael Varane after he kicked the ball toward the Atletico bench. Simeone had to be restrained by his own staff and was sent to the stands.