Keylor Navas, Real Madrid clinch second consecutive Champions League title
Real Madrid made history Saturday as the first team ever to win two consecutive Champions League Title, in an action-packed game that – because of the presence of Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas – was followed as passionately in Costa Rica as any National Team contest.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Real Madrid crushed Juventus 4-1 in Cardiff on Saturday to become the first team to retain the European Cup in the Champions League era.
The Portugal superstar’s opener was cancelled out by an astonishing Mario Mandzukic strike, but goals from Casemiro, Ronaldo and Marco Asensio secured Madrid’s third Champions League triumph in four years and 12th in total.
Now a four-time Champions League winner, Ronaldo finished as the competition’s top scorer for the fifth season running, substantially enhancing his chances of matching eternal rival Lionel Messi’s tally of five Ballons d’Or.
Zinedine Zidane, a head coach for only 17 months, became the first manager to oversee back-to-back European Cup successes since Arrigo Sacchi’s fabled AC Milan team won the tournament in 1989 and 1990. It crowns a glorious season for Madrid, who have pulled off a La Liga and European Cup double for the first time since 1958, having also won the Club World Cup and European Super Cup.
Zidane’s triumph was his former club Juve’s misery, Massimiliano Allegri’s side crashing to a fifth successive defeat in Champions League finals and seventh in total, extending their own desperately unwanted record.
The first Champions League final to be played beneath a closed roof saw Juve hit their heads against a familiar ceiling as they missed out on a chance to complete the first Treble in their history.
The Italian champions also had substitute Juan Cuadrado sent off after he was shown a second yellow card for a gentle push on Sergio Ramos that drew a comical overreaction from the Madrid skipper.
Kick-off at the Principality Stadium was delayed by two minutes due to an elaborate pre-match ceremony involving American pop act the Black Eyed Peas and when play got under way, Juve settled first.
Navas’ was worked twice by Gonzalo Higuain, and had his biggest save of the match when Miralem Pjanic’s snappy half-volley forced the Madrid goalkeeper to produce a smart one-handed save.
Navas was the second Costa Rican star to contest a Champions League Final on the Cardiff field this week. Shirley Cruz, of Paris Saint Germain, logged a strong performance Thursday, though her team ultimately lost 7-6 in a penalty shootout to Lyon. The game was the fifth Champions League Final for two-time title winner Cruz.
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