Karim Benzema opened the scoring, intercepting Loris Karius’ throw out howler in the 51st minute before Sadio Mane equalised from a set-piece four minutes later.
From there, it was the Welshman’s stage after he entered the field for Isco in the second-half.
He netted an audacious bicycle-kick to put Madrid ahead before his effort from range drew another nightmare from the Liverpool goalkeeper.
Goals – 3
Shots – 14
Possession – 66%
Tackles – 11
Dribbles – 10
Goals – 1
Shots – 13
Possession – 34%
Tackles – 18
Dribbles – 9
The Madrid boss set his side up in a 4-3-1-2 formation with Isco and Karim Benzema both getting the nod ahead of Bale. The defending champions struggled in the early part of proceedings as they failed to assert their authority on the ball.
Mohamed Salah’s injury turned the game in their favour as they began to create chances. After Mane equalised, Madrid weathered the storm and looked the stronger outfit again. Zidane capitalised on that advantage by throwing on Bale who did the rest.
There were no surprises from Klopp as he deployed Liverpool’s usual and ever-so-effective 4-3-3 formation that tends to extract the best out of their fearsome front three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Mane.
The injury to their talismanic Egyptian threw a spanner in the works and Adam Lallana who came on in his stead barely mustered a modicum of the threat Salah posed. The Reds switched to a 4-4-2 and predictably lost their edge.
TACTICAL TALKING POINTS
MADRID STEP UP
Before Salah went off injured, Liverpool had nine shots and none for the rest of the first half following his substitution in the 31st minute. That’s the kind of weight his presence carries in terms of Liverpool’s attacking threat.
Zidane pushed his troops forward thereafter as they grew in confidence, ending the the opening 45 minutes with 67 per cent of possession. Marcelo, though having to cope with Mane instead, was able to venture forward with more freedom while Madrid’s midfield began to move the ball around with greater authority.
BBC THE REAL FRONT THREE
Leaving Bale on the bench was the only real question mark over Zidane’s team selection given the Welshman’s form of late. Isco did hit the bar but didn’t have his most influential outing. Once Bale replaced the Spaniard on the hour mark, it changed the dimension of their attack.
Isco tended to drop off Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo but with Bale on the pitch, the front three interchanged seamlessly. His incredible first goal will dominate headlines but the impact his introduction had and the openings it created were priceless.
PINNING MADRID DOWN
The high press is a big part of Liverpool’s game but against Madrid, Klopp seemed to tweak that aspect of their repertoire. Their front three took up great positions to contain Los Blancos inside their own half in the opening exchanges, and threatening in the transition every time there was a turnover.
Had they closed them down aggressively like they normally tend to do, they would’ve run the risk of Madrid’s technically gifted players passing the ball around them. This strategy helped them gain the upper hand in the early exchanges.
Nothing spectacular about the Frenchman’s tactical input other than the Bale substitution but his greatest strength has always been getting the best out of the world class talent at his disposal and he did that once again.
Rating – 7/10
His set up was unquestionably the better of the two managers’ but he didn’t prepare for the worst case scenario. His introduction of Lallana was uninspiring, although he was lacking options.
Rating – 6/10
The 33-year-old has now won five European Cups in all, but Gareth Bale was the hero for Real in Kiev with two goals in a 3-1 win over Liverpool.
“I am going to enjoy this moment and in the next few days I will give an answer to the fans, who have always been at my side,” Ronaldo told BeIN Sports Spain.
“It was very nice to be at Real Madrid. In the next few days I will speak.
“I am going to enjoy this with my team-mates and in the next few days I’ll give an answer.”
Ronaldo ended as the Champions League’s top scorer for a sixth straight season as Real became the first side in 42 years to win three consecutive European Cups.
“We made history. That’s the important thing,” he added. “The future of a player isn’t important.”
Gareth Bale scored two goals as a second-half substitute, including an outrageous overhead scissor kick, after Sadio Mane had cancelled out Karim Benzema’s opener.
“Tonight is certainly a historic moment,” Zidane told BeIn Sports. “To win three times in a row… It’s something crazy to experience that. Even if we believe it, we think about it when we work hard.
“With a team like this, we can go far but to win three of them, it’s something crazy.
“You have to make the most of it, and think about what the players have done together.”
Zidane, 45, became the first coach to win the Champions Leagues in three consecutive seasons, having only taken charge of the team in his first senior management role in January 2016.