But now, they have won Europe's - and the world's - most prestigious club football tournament for a record 11th time. Back in the 2014 Champions League final their opponents were Atletico Madrid and it was the first Champions League final to feature two teams from the same city. Now, just two years on, the two Spanish clubs met again in the final last night. In 2014, Real won 4-1 after extra time. Last night, it finished 1-1 after extra time with Real winning 5-3 on penalties.
Spanish international Ramos put Real 1-0 up after 15 minutes before Belgian international Carrasco equalised for Atletico. It remained 1-1 after the regulation 90 minutes and after the 30 minutes of extra time and so went to a penalty shootout. The only miss in the shootout was by Atletico's Juanfran, who hit the post with his shot. Then up stepped former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo to win it for Real. The Portuguese slammed home the penalty before wheeling away and ripping off his shirt in ecstasy as the Real fans went wild, celebrating their club winning the European Cup/Champions League for a record 11th time. Many Atletico fans, meanwhile, who had been dreaming of seeing their team win the tournament for the first time, were in tears. Ronaldo has now won the Champions League three times - with Manchester United in 2008 and with Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016. It's also a second Champions League title for Welsh star Gareth Bale.
The kick-off of the match at the San Siro in Milan was slightly delayed after a pre-match performance from the part-Italian Alicia Keys and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.
Cristiano Ronaldo scores winning penalty as Gareth Bale and Co win Champions League again
Jan Oblak produced a stunning close range from Casemiro after six minutes via Gareth Bale's free-kick delivery
Bale flicked on Toni Kroos' set piece and Sergio Ramos helped the ball into the net for the opener after 15 minutes
Pepe fouled Fernando Torres inside the box but Antoine Griezmann slammed penalty against underside of the bar
Substitute Yannick Carrasco levelled for Atletico after a brilliant cross from Juanfran with 11 minutes remaining
Zinedine Zidane has been in the job for just five months but he has won Champions League in 27th game in charge
READ: How the final unfolded as Cristiano Ronaldo has the final say after Juanfran's crucial missed spotkick
By Rob Draper for The Mail on Sunday
29 May 2016
Champions League final
Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Ramos 15................................................ ...Carrasco 79
(After extra time. Real won 5-3 on penalties)
At the San Siro, Milan
Attendance: 71, 942
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (England)
Real: Navas, Carvajal (Danilo 52), Ramos (c), Pepe, Marcelo, Casemiro, Modrić, Kroos (Isco 72), Bale, Benzema (Vázquez 77), Ronaldo
Atletico: Oblak, Juanfran, Savić, Godín, Luís (Hernández 109), Ñíguez, Gabi (c), Fernández (Carrasco 46), Koke (Partey 116), Griezmann, Torres
By the end he could barely walk. He looked as though he played half-injured from his thigh strain. He was some distance from his best.
And yet, come that final moment, when Real Madrid needed a penalty to be scored to win a record 11th European Cup, it was, of course, inevitably Cristiano Ronaldo who stepped up.
Somehow, he is destined to dominate. He stood opposite Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak, his legs astride in that quasi-macho pose he loves so much.
And he struck a simple penalty, almost straight down the middle, as Oblak dived away from the ball.
He grinned, he strutted and he ripped his shirt off. Of course he did: that gym work is not for nothing. Soon he was submerged under a heap of grateful team-mates.
In the end, though, there is only one leader of this side. For now, at least, Bale will have to wait his turn. A season which has often been chaotic, haphazard and saw Rafa Benitez dismissed and a rookie coach appointed in Zinedine Zidane, ends in historic achievement.
‘I’m very happy,’ said Zidane, a winner as a player for Real Madrid in 2002. ‘I have dreamed of this. But it’s not easy. We’ve worked hard. Physically we suffered. All the players had cramp. And mentally it was a lot of pressure to bear. But in the end you have to fight and we have achieved what we wanted. And when you achieve something as big as this it means a lot for the club.’
As for their cross-city rivals, Atletico, it all ends desperately again. In 1974 they came within seconds; in 2014, against Real Madrid, they were again just moments from getting across the line; last night they came within a penalty kick of winning this trophy.
Juanfran, so excellent for them this season, a man who started his career at Real Madrid was their fall guy. He hit the post with Atletico’s fourth penalty, which allowed Ronaldo his moment. Before that, Lucas Vazquez, Marcelo, Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos had all confidently rolled their penalties into the right-hand corner.
Antoine Griezmann, Gabi and Saul Niguez had done the same, but to the left side, for Atletico. As ever in these contests the tension became unbearable and Juanfran succumbed. It was excruciating to watch them miss out again, having disposed of Bayern and Barcelona en route to this final.
Their commander in chief, Diego Simeone, who has brought them this far on a fraction of the budget of his rivals and all the Premier League giants, attempted to rally the troops at the end. ‘I told the players: “Don’t cry, guys. You’ve made enormous efforts to get here”,’ said the Argentine.
‘Football is destiny and it’s clear today it was against us. I feel most for those fans who travelled here, who paid for their tickets. When I see their disappointment, that’s when I feel it most.’
In the immediate aftermath he said he needed to consider his future. ‘It’s a moment for me to think about things. When you give everything and it’s not enough it’s hard. These have been three wonderful years but I am not happy tonight.’ There will be an undignified scramble among top club if he decides to leave.
Still, it was Real Madrid’s night. They may have spent good parts of this season looking like a mal-adjusted collection of ego-centric multi-millionaires but last night they started and finished like a team; a good one at that. Inbetween, they reverted to type at times, but they held their nerve.
In a physical opening 20 minutes Casimero set the tempo and his team-mates responded, with Bale the busiest of all. Brought crashing down by Gabi on seven minutes, he then swung in a lovely free kick which Casemiro, from around four yards out, somehow managed to miss, though credit to Oblak, who stood strong and parried away.
No matter. On 15 minutes Kroos chipped in another free kick which Bale did well to flick on with a back header. The ball fell to Ramos, three yards out, who just managed to touch the ball home, Oblak helpless this time. Simeone’s ire was rightly directed at referee Mark Clattenburg and his assistants, as Ramos had been offside.
Atletico threatened to be overwhelmed. Simeone gestured from the bench for his team to slow play down, catch their breath and come again, and they did.
The years Real Madrid won their record 11 European Cup/Champions League titles (the European Cup became the Champions League in 1992): 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016
As soon as the second half started, they revived their hopes, Griezmann playing in Fernando Torres, who drew a foul from Pepe. Griezmann stepped up for the penalty. Keylor Navas was booked for trying to delay it. The Frenchman struck it hard and high and against the underside of the bar. It felt like a crushing blow.
And yet Atletico pushed on, Greizmann shining despite his miss. They dominated possession for the next 15 minutes. Yannick Carrasco, on as a sub, broke down the right, pulled in a cross for Saul Niguez to produce an acrobatic flick which almost beat Navas.
Benzema might have finished it but for the excellent Oblak just past the hour. Ronaldo, likewise, over-elaborating on 78 minutes allowing Oblak to save and Bale’s return being cleared off the line. Countering immediately, Atletico broke with a lovely lofted ball releasing Juanfran. He fired it across goal and Carrasco raced in to slide it home from a few yards out. Hope was restored.
In extra time, Real Madrid were falling: Ronaldo succumbing to fatigue and reduced to occasional bursts.
At times he looked ready to surrender, but Real Madrid had used all their subs.
Bale went down with cramp, though he attempted an overhead kick nonetheless and seized up midway.
Atletico seemed stronger, fitter. It seemed their moment had come.
As before, it was not to be.
Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo was inevitably match winner as he kept his composure to strike home the crucial fifth penalty for Real
France's 1998 World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane has been in the job for just five months but he has won Champions League in 27th game in charge after a dramatic shootout victory
Keylor Navas dives to his right and nearly gets fingertips onto Juanfran's penalty but it mattered not as the shot cannoned off the post
Atletico's Juanfran trudges back to the centre circle after missing the crucial penalty to give Ronaldo the chance to clinch the victory for Real
Ronaldo reserved himself for the fifth penalty and, after Juanfran had struck the foot of the post, he made no mistake
Ronaldo celebrates his winning spot kick after a tense penalty shootout resulted in a record 11th European Cup for Real Madrid
Real Madrid players celebrate and their joy will spill long into the night after the club clinched their 11th European Cup at the San Siro
Atletico Madrid substitute Yannick Carrasco fires in from close range to bring his side level after 79 minutes of an absorbing encounter
The Belgian wheels away in delight having brought the scores level and the 22-year-old celebrated with his girlfriend on the sidelines
Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos celebrates giving his side the lead with a close range finish after 15 minutes at the San Siro
Ramos steers the ball underneath fallen keeper Oblak as Atletico failed to play to their strengths in the first 15 minutes of the encounter
The 30-year-old defender showed once more his appetite for the big occasion by scoring a crucial goal in the Champions League final
Antoine Griezmann had the opportunity to restore parity three minutes into the second-half but he could only fire his penalty onto the bar
Griezmann watches his shot rebound off the underside of the bar and into the sky as a good chance went begging for Atletico
The Atletico Madrid fans travelled in their numbers to Milan to get behind their team with the banner 'Your Values Make Us Believe'
Opera singer Andrea Bocelli performs prior to the final and the Italian gave an unforgettable version of the Champions League anthem
Real Madrid supporters similarly unfurled a banner at the other end of the ground which translates as, 'Until the End, Come on Real!'
Alicia Keys provided the pre-match entertainment on the pitch during the opening ceremony to the 2016 Champions League final
An impressive fireworks display accompanied Keys' performance in the centre circle on a humid evening in Milan ahead of the game
Casemiro came very close to breaking the deadlock for Real but his close range shot was superbly blocked by goalkeeper Jan Oblak
Oblak managed to get down low to divert the midfielder's effort away from goal but Real did not have to wait long for their opener
Real Madrid's Spanish defender Dani Carvajal was the first in Mark Clattenburg's book after cynically taking out Antoine Griezmann
Bale impressed on the counter-attack for Real and the Welshman also tracked back to make decisive contributions throughout
Carrasco got in front of substitute Lucas Vazquez to fire home the equaliser as Real were made to pay for those missed opportunities
Ronaldo has now won the Champions League twice with Real Madrid adding to the solitary time he did so with Manchester United
Read more: Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid (AET, 5-3 on pens): Cristiano Ronaldo scores winning penalty as Gareth Bale and Co win Champions League again | Daily Mail Online
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