For the first time in 59 years, Real Madrid is celebrating the double of La Liga and the European Cup.
On Saturday, at the Millennium Stadium, Real Madrid defeated Juventus 4-1 in the final of the Champions League to hoist the European Cup for a record 12th time. The victory marked the first time since 1958 that Los Blancos conquered Spain and Europe in the same season, and marked the seventh defeat for the Old Lady in the tournament's final.
By securing the Duodecima, Real Madrid became the first club since AC Milan to retain its European Cup crown, and the first to do so in the Champions League era.
In a battle between Europe's best defence and Europe's best offence, it was a tale of two halves. Juventus came out stronger and controlled the beginning of the game, forcing Real Madrid to sit deep. But Los Blancos drew first blood, as Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring with a right-footed drive against the run of play. The Portuguese personality became the first footballer to score in three Champions League finals, and the goal marked the Spanish club's 500th in the Champions League.
(Photo courtesy: Reuters)
The lead didn't last long, though. Mario Mandzukic produced an overhead kick seven minutes later to manufacture one of the greatest goals ever scored in a final. The Croatian forward chested down the ball before sending it over Keylor Navas. It was eerily reminiscent of Zinedine Zidane's left-footed volley from the final of the 1997-98 Champions League, which lifted Los Blancos to a 2-1 win against Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
From there, it was all downhill for Juventus. Following an entertaining first half, Real Madrid kicked the Old Lady to the ground and outplayed the Italian club in all aspects. Casemiro fired Los Blancos into the lead, Ronaldo surpassed Lionel Messi as the Champions League's top scorer by tallying his 12th goal of the tournament and the 600th of his career for club and country, Marco Asensio became the youngest player to ever score for the Spanish club in the final of the European Cup, and Juan Cuadrado was shown a red card after collecting two bookings as a substitute.
Juventus entered the final having only conceded three goals in the Champions League. Real Madrid scored four times. Supporters of the Old Lady spelled out "The Time Is Now" before kickoff, but after Europe's best offence disposed of Europe's best defence, the message is a description more befitting of Los Blancos, who are, without a shadow of doubt, enjoying one of the most successful eras since the days of Alfredo Di Stefano.