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Champions League final: Real Madrid pull off another high-wire act to win



Through it all stood the manager, the masterly facilitator of great players, working it out with the help of those in his charge, including a lengthy touchline conversation with Carvajal close to half-time.

If he was feeling stress at Real’s struggles, he did not show it – and why should he? He, more than anyone, knows what he has at his disposal and what they have delivered for him before. They did it again.

The Italian has been eclipsing his contemporaries in this competition for two decades. Even the two most trumpeted of the recent generation of coaches – Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp – have come nowhere near his record of success.

It was night when Real celebrated but also looked to a golden future – one likely to be spearheaded by Kylian Mbappe when he completes his expected move to the Bernabeu, a chilling prospect for those hoping to prevent a 16th win next season.

England’s Jude Bellingham may have had a quiet night – certainly against the standards he has set in a stellar first season at Real, where he has now added the Champions League to La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup, as well as the league’s Player of the Year award.

The 20-year-old struggled to make an impact at Wembley but still provided the pass for Vinicius Jr’s second goal, also missing a great chance himself with the score 1-0.

Bellingham will be the centrepiece for Real going forward, and England manager Gareth Southgate will hope a Champions League winners’ medal will provide a turbo-charge going into Euro 2024.

It was farewell to the masterly Kroos, who joined Carvajal, Nacho and late substitute Luka Modric in winning their sixth Champions League title, all equalling the tournament record of another Real icon, Paco Gento.

The latter three are still likely to be at the Bernabeu next season with power to add because Real Madrid – no matter how they do it – keep on rewriting history.

Who would bet against them, bolstered by Mbappe, coming back and lifting the Champions League again in 12 months’ time?

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