Real Madrid crowned European kings for the 15th time

Real Madrid were crowned champions of Europe for a 15th time at Wembley, with second-half goals from Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Jr seeing off a brave Borussia Dortmund for a 2-0 Champions League final victory.

The German side hit a post and created two more clear chances in the first half as they threatened a big upset but Real have a unique relationship with this competition and, with an improved display after the interval, they finally came to life.

Toni Kroos – in his final game for the club – set up the opener with a corner for Carvajal to head home with 16 minutes to play, before England’s Jude Bellingham rolled in Vinicius Jr to punish a stretched Dortmund side soon after.

Niclas Fullkrug, who had struck the inside of an upright earlier in the game when Dortmund were breaking through the Real backline at will, thought he’d created a big finish with a powerful header but was flagged offside and Dortmund’s hopes of an unlikely comeback all but ended there.

Real Madrid

Real, the Kings of Europe, were crowned again. The Decimoquinta secured.

For the first time, it is with an unbeaten European campaign. They have needed four comebacks along the way, including their last-gasp turnaround against Bayern Munich in the semi-finals and a penalty shootout victory over last season’s winners Manchester City in the quarter-finals, but the Spanish champions wouldn’t be denied.

For Carvajal, Kroos and team-mates Nacho and Luka Modric it is a remarkable sixth Champions League win with Real Madrid. Boss Carlo Ancelotti has now won the coveted prize five times as a head coach. For 20-year-old Bellingham, the first of more to come?

Bellingham: The best night of my life!

Jude Bellingham speaking to TNT Sports:

“I’ve always dreamt of playing in these games. You go through life with people telling you that you can’t do things. Days like this remind you. It gets hard sometimes and you wonder whether it’s worth it but nights like this make you realise.

“I was alright until I saw my mum and dad. Nights like where they could have been at home by 7 o’clock but they’re out until 12 on trips to take me to football. And my little brother who I’m trying to be a role model for. The best night of my life.”

How Real became champions again

The odds were always stacked against Dortmund. They had beaten them against Atletico Madrid and Paris St-Germain on the way to the final but missed moments in the first half came back to cost them here. Those chances may well have played on their minds as they stood in front of their supporters who had urged them on so loudly throughout.

In the end it was Wembley heartache again, just as in their 2013 final defeat to Bayern Munich. For the departing Marco Reus, who was there 11 years ago, it will have felt familiarly painful.

A series of pitch invaders may have disrupted the start to the match but Dortmund were quickly up to speed, picking passes in behind the Real backline for Julian Brandt to skew beyond the far post and Karim Adeyemi to run the ball too far wide of Thibaut Courtois.

Real couldn’t plug the gaps and Chelsea loanee Ian Maatsen, who was celebrating winning the Championship with Burnley this time last year, rolled in Fullkrug to slide a shot against the inside of the post midway through the half.

The big striker was agonisingly close again soon after, this time unable to stretch enough to angle in his header from Adeyemi’s parried shot. The left winger was proving too hot to handle. Jadon Sancho on the other side was enjoying success, too. Even Marcel Sabitzer was able to step forwards from midfield and force Courtois to save as Dortmund finished the half on top.

Real Madrid’s best moment in that first 45 had been a speculative effort from the edge of the box from Vinicius Jr. They finally made Gregor Kobel work through a Kroos free-kick from an angle before Carvajal went close from the follow-up corner. The right-back’s eyes lit up again moments later when his shot at the back post was deflected kindly for the keeper.

Real were finally getting into gear. Courtois had to push away a Fullkrug header but the action was now around the Dortmund goalmouth. Bellingham was inches away from flicking in Vinicius Jr’s lofted cross, with the Brazilian laughing to himself after some trickery won Real a corner. It was the set-piece that brought the breakthrough and Carvajal’s second Champions League goal nine years on from his first. A good time to add to his tally.

Bellingham again went close with a deflected shot from inside the box as Real suddenly oozed confidence. Kobel had to save from Kroos and then Eduardo Camavinga and then Nacho. He couldn’t stop Vinicius Jr’s strike though – a clinical finish to seal it after Bellingham capitalised on Maatsen’s error to find him in space.

Fullkrug thought he had grabbed his side a lifeline but there was no stopping Real’s procession to the throne once more.

Ancelotti: This season was 10/10 – my players have been spectacular!

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti: “I didn’t need to get angry. I needed to clarify a few things. It was clear how Dortmund wanted to play. We lost our balance and had to manage their transitions better. We lost a lot of balls in the opposition half and we thought changing the system would be better for us, with more players in midfield.

“This season has been 10 out of 10. My players have been spectacular.”

On Toni Kroos retiring: “He has finished at the very top. He is a legend in this club. All the Real Madrid fans are grateful to him for what he has done, not only because of his game but his attitude and professionalism.

“I said to him we’re waiting if you change your mind!”

Terzic: Real Madrid’s quality is incredible

Borussia Dortmund boss Edin Terzic: “The momentum turned around and you saw why they are champions.

“It was a very even game in the first 15-20 minutes of the second half. But the quality of the opponent is incredible. When you see how we lost the momentum of the game through a set-piece, this is something we have to learn from.

“We have been always dangerous in ball possession, on counter-attacks but we couldn’t manage to score and that was the key to why we didn’t win the game.”

On Jadon Sancho’s future: “The last six months, Jadon has been brilliant for us. It took some time to get back into shape but we can feel his quality and skills would improve our game straight away. He didn’t improve only his game but the players around him. He’s very gifted.

“We’ve been talking about the present. The Champions League final in his hometown. I’m really happy he is with us. You can feel the joy he receives in the dressing room and brings into the dressing room.

“I’m very happy to work with Jadon. We don’t know what the future will bring him but for sure it will bring him another Champions League final.”

When does the 2024/25 Premier League season start?

The 2023/24 season has reached its conclusion but planning has already started for the new campaign.

Several Premier League sides have confirmed pre-season friendlies ahead of the 2024/25 term, which kicks off on the weekend of August 17/18, while others have given fresh kits an early airing.

The Premier League fixtures – all 380 of them – will be released at 9am on Tuesday, June 18, with full coverage on Sky Sports News and Sky Sports’ digital platforms.

The new EFL season starts on the weekend of August 10/11 and marks the launch of Sky Sports+, giving more choice to sports fans via live streams and a new dedicated channel, at no extra cost. In a broadcasting first, every EFL game across all three divisions – the Championship, League One and League Two – will be streamed live on the opening weekend.

Stand by for another busy summer in the transfer window – clubs can do business from June 14 until August 30 and the Sky Sports Transfer Centre will keep you posted with all the latest news and rumours.

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