Bale turned around and with his arms outstretched, sprinted to the corner flag screaming. There was no heart celebration, no thanking of teammates, he just ran. The magnitude of what he had just done must have been overwhelming. To score what was to be the winning goal in the Champions League Final in your first year at Real Madrid, the biggest club in the world, against their city rivals Atlético…no wonder he forgot his trademark celebration. The moment wasn’t lost on the Madrid fans either. The stand behind him was a black and white sea of the Real Madrid faithful exultantly flailing their arms and hugging each other. It was a fitting climax to an epic match up between two clubs from the same city.
It was the third ‘Derbi madrileño’ of the year, but this time it was played in Lisbon. Tens of thousands of Real and Atlético fans descended upon the Portuguese capital for the Champions League Final, just one week after Atlético Madrid drew at the Nou Camp to claim the La Liga title. It was a draw that came at a price for Atlético, as midfielder Arda Turan came off early and star striker Diego Costa suffered a hamstring injury that seemed too severe to recover from in time for the Final. Real Madrid had problems of their own too, as Sami Khedira replaced the suspended Xabi Alonso, even though he himself had only just come back from injury.
Within 8 minutes, Diego Costa could not continue through the injury that he sustained the previous week (even after the horse placenta treatment). Not to worry for Atlético though, as they took the lead in the 35th minute through Diego Godín after he looped a header over Casillas from a corner. Atlético defended this lead well for the remaining 55 minutes or so, with Real coming up with very little to genuinely trouble their city neighbours.
Then, with only 30 seconds of added time left, Sergio Ramos headed home a dramatic equaliser, much to the incredulity of the Real fans and the anguish of Atlético. It was a cruel blow, and one that appeared to knock the stuffing out of Diego Simeone’s side. With one substitute wasted on Diego Costa after only 8 minutes, the Rojiblancos seemed dispirited at their lack of options off the bench.
The match restarted for extra-time and, with Atlético visibly shaken and tired from the late equaliser, Real Madrid took control. 5 minutes into the 2nd half of extra time, Di Maria exploited Atlético’s tired legs to dribble past 3 down the left and lashed a low shot at Courtois. The Belgian keeper could only parry it to Bale, who did well to nod home from close range and give Real Madrid a slim but comfortable lead with 10 minutes left. The significance of this goal was clear. ‘La Décima’ was well and truly on, and boy did they know it. Mirroring the raucous Madrid fans in the stands, Xabi Alonso jumped down from his seat (still donning a full suit) and sprinted the length of the pitch to join his Blancos teammates who were mobbing Bale.
Atlético tried to attack for the remaining 10 minutes of what was a gruelling match for them but it futile. Their gung-ho tactic proved costly as Marcelo slotted home from just inside the area to put the game beyond doubt. Then, in the final minute of added time in extra time, Ronaldo had the last say in matters by dispatching a penalty and taking off his shirt. It was a rather incongruous way to end a final against an unassuming and dogged Atlético side, but the Madrid fans didn’t care.
Madrid had completed the ‘Décima’ by beating their rivals. That’s all that mattered.
Check out this video of awesome fan reactions to each of the goals in the stadium