RT / A stunning brace from substitute Gareth Bale fired Real Madrid to an unprecedented third Champions League title in a row, overcoming Liverpool 3-1 in Kiev. Real Madrid striker Bale had only just appeared on the pitch as a second-half substitute when he scored a stunning overhead kick on 64 minutes to put his team in front, after Karim Benzema’s opening goal for Real had been cancelled out by Sadio Mane’s strike for Liverpool.

© Gleb Garanich / Reuters Liverpool suffered a huge blow mid-way through the first half when star striker Mohamed Salah was forced off with a shoulder injury after landing awkwardly following a tussle with Real defender Sergio Ramos.

The Spanish side took the lead shortly after the break following a howler from Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius, who saw his attempt to throw the ball out blocked by Benzema’s outstretched leg. The Frenchman then rolled the ball into an empty net.

© Phil Boyer / Reuters / Reuters Mane levelled the score four minutes later, when he poked home from a corner. Bale, having replaced Isco on 61 minutes, stepped up with a stunning overhead kick goal that will go down as one of the greatest ever in Champions League final history.

The goal emulated his manager Zinedine Zidane’s famous volley in the 2002 final at Hampden Park against Bayer Leverkusen, although Bale’s strike required even more acrobatic ability. 

Worse was to come for Liverpool keeper Karius, as he flapped Bale’s drive from range into his own net on 83 minutes, handing the Welshman his second goal of the game, and Real Madrid their third Champions League title in a row.

© Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters All the talk going into the game had been of two teams with shaky defences but exhilarating attacking talent coming face to face in Kiev.

After a bright opening of few chances but lots of energy, Liverpool saw the departure of their main threat as Egyptian striker Salah, who has scored 44 goals for the Reds this season, left the pitch in tears after tangling with Real captain Ramos and suffering what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder.

Read more UEFA Champions League Final 2018 – Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool It was huge blow for Liverpool, who lost the main prong of their much-heralded attacking trident.

Real suffered their own injury woe soon after, however, when defender Dani Carvajal was forced off with what appeared to be a foot injury. The right-back also left the Kiev pitch crying.

The teams went in at half-time goalless, despite Benzema thinking he had given Real the lead shortly before the break when he turned the ball home after Karius saved a Ronaldo header, but the Portuguese striker had strayed offside.

The game exploded into life in the second half, when Real took the lead in bizarre fashion. Liverpool keeper Karius collected the ball in the box, and attempted to immediately throw the ball to a defender, only to see the lurking Benzema stick out a leg and block the ball, before rolling it into the empty net.

Karius appeared to protest that he thought he had heard an offside whistle and so was rolling the ball out to take a freekick, but it seemed more out of desperation for his own mistake and the goal stood.

Liverpool were soon back on level terms though, when a corner was headed back across goal and Senegal striker Mane nipped in to beat Real Madrid keeper Kaylor Navas to the ball.

That set the stage for  Bale, who replaced Isco on 61 minutes and three minutes later had restored Real’s lead with a goal of stunning beauty.

61' | 1-1 | 🔁 We've made our second change with @GarethBale11 replacing @isco_alarcon . #APorLa13 pic.twitter.com/6UNskRKFzS

— Real Madrid C.F.🇺🇸🇬🇧 (@realmadriden) May 26, 2018 The Welshman acrobatically met a cross just inside the box, leaping into the air with his back to goal and volleying home – in a similar vein to teammate Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning goal against Juventus earlier in the competition.

© Phil Boyer / Reuters / Reuters Bale added to that goal with a big helping hand – quite literally – from Karius, who palmed a long-range shot from Bale into his own net on 84 minutes. The ball swerved and dipped, but the keeper was undoubtedly at fault. 

Liverpool were down and out, and Real Madrid had claimed their third Champions League title in a row and an incredible 13 European cup final triumphs in total.

© Hannah Mckay / Reuters It was also a third Champions League title for Real manager Zinedine Zidane, who joins Liverpool great Bob Paisley and Italian Carlo Ancelotti on three managerial triumphs in Europe’s biggest club tournament, but becomes the first to win three in a row.

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