Real Madrid Defeat Liverpool to Win Champions League Behind Vinicius Jr.'s Goal

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 28, 2022

Real Madrid's goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saves Liverpool's Mohamed Salah's shot during the Champions League final soccer match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Stade de France in Saint Denis near Paris, Saturday, May 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
AP Photo/Petr David Josek

Thibaut Courtois' masterpiece and Vinicius Junior's 59th-minute goal off a beautiful Federico Valverde pass propelled Real Madrid to a 1-0 win over Liverpool in the Champions League Final on Saturday in Paris.

Liverpool outshot Real Madrid 24-4. Nine of the Reds' shots were on goal, while only two of Real Madrid's efforts found the target.

However, none of that mattered as Courtois delivered an incredible performance that included brilliant saves all night.

Tom Worville of RB Leipzig put the goalkeeper's effort in proper perspective:

Tom Worville @Worville

2.6 xG on-target saved by Courtois so far 🧤

Courtois kept Real Madrid level nearly single-handedly, and it was Vinicius Junior who put his team ahead after sliding the game's only goal into the net.

Champions League final on CBS & Paramount+ @CBSSportsGolazo

VINICIUS JR. BREAKTHROUGH FOR REAL MADRID. 💥 <a href="https://t.co/GVzH0BsgvZ">pic.twitter.com/GVzH0BsgvZ</a>

That was all Real Madrid needed thanks to Courtois' evening, and Real Madrid has now won 14 European Cups or Champions League titles, twice as many as any other club.

Courtois' clean sheet will last a lifetime, and he made history along the way:

Squawka @Squawka

Thibaut Courtois is the first goalkeeper on record to make NINE saves in a single <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UCLfinal?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UCLfinal</a> <br><br>An incredible performance. 🙌 <a href="https://t.co/FLO8WSXNku">pic.twitter.com/FLO8WSXNku</a>

Here's a look at Courtois by the numbers:

Madrid Zone @theMadridZone

❗MOST SAVES in a single game in this season's <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UCL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UCL</a><br><br>🥇 Courtois vs Liverpool - 9 (<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UCLFinal?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UCLFinal</a> record)<br>🥈 Courtois vs PSG - 8<br>🥉 Courtois vs Man City - 8<br><br>What a LEGEND. <a href="https://t.co/Vn4FcABESU">pic.twitter.com/Vn4FcABESU</a>

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Thibaut Courtois’ game by numbers vs Liverpool: <br><br>65 total touches <br>27 long balls played <br>9 saves made <br>7 saves from inside the area <br>2 high claims <br><br>MOTM. 🇧🇪🏆 <a href="https://t.co/nMKxDTKVt3">pic.twitter.com/nMKxDTKVt3</a>

And here's how Courtois' night looked live:

Champions League final on CBS & Paramount+ @CBSSportsGolazo

Thibaut Courtois denies Mo Salah. 🧤 <a href="https://t.co/jZAFpoK1tb">pic.twitter.com/jZAFpoK1tb</a>

Champions League final on CBS & Paramount+ @CBSSportsGolazo

Thibaut Courtois coming up huge again! 🔥 <a href="https://t.co/wk0RXP5gIP">pic.twitter.com/wk0RXP5gIP</a>

Champions League final on CBS & Paramount+ @CBSSportsGolazo

Thibaut Courtois is putting in a SHIFT! 😲 <a href="https://t.co/VXu5b3AQo9">pic.twitter.com/VXu5b3AQo9</a>

Champions League final on CBS & Paramount+ @CBSSportsGolazo

COURTOIS. BEAST MODE. 😤 <a href="https://t.co/zACTW8ncyM">pic.twitter.com/zACTW8ncyM</a>

Courtois had some added motivation going into this match, as he told BT Sport:

Squawka News @SquawkaNews

Thibaut Courtois to BT Sport after the game: "I had to win a final to put some respect on my name, because I don't think I get enough respect. Especially in England."

He was tremendous on a night when Real Madrid had few offensive chances, although they were of high quality.

Karim Benzema nearly got Real Madrid on the board in the first half, but he was called offside.

Champions League final on CBS & Paramount+ @CBSSportsGolazo

Offside or no? 🤔 <a href="https://t.co/kBR9oNZAxj">pic.twitter.com/kBR9oNZAxj</a>

All was well, though, as Vinicius Junior took advantage of his chance for the lone goal, marking the third straight time the Champions League Final has finished 1-0.

Melissa Reddy @MelissaReddy_

That's 10 direct goal involvements for Vinícius Júnior in the Champions League this season. The last South American player to post 10+ in a single campaign while 21 or under? Leo Messi

Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano

Vinícius Júnior has been involved in 10 Champions League goals this season. More than a top talent. ⚪️⭐️ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UCLFinal?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UCLFinal</a><br><br>Quick reminder: Vini’s still 21. <a href="https://t.co/gPz2nYt5u1">pic.twitter.com/gPz2nYt5u1</a>


Benzema and Vinicius Jr. have been involved in 100 goals combined this season 🤯 <a href="https://t.co/J9IeTaTrir">pic.twitter.com/J9IeTaTrir</a>

That goal would not have been possible without Valverde, who was sensational in his own right:

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Fede Valverde’s game by numbers vs Liverpool: <br><br>100% aerial duels won<br>47 total touches <br>4 ground duels won <br>4 ball recoveries <br>2 ball clearances <br>2 successful dribbles <br>2 crosses played <br>1 big chance created <br>1 assist <br><br>Huge performance on the big stage. 👏 <a href="https://t.co/8fmS2RMoN9">pic.twitter.com/8fmS2RMoN9</a>

Real Madrid's run to the Champions League title was legendary. They lived on the edge throughout the entire knockout round, winning all four by one goal apiece.

Real Madrid needed a Karim Benzema hat trick to overcome a 2-0 deficit to Paris St-Germain in the Round of 16. Benzema was the hero again versus Chelsea in the quarterfinals, scoring in the 96th minute of the second leg to cap a four-goal aggregate performance and give his team a 5-4 win.

Extra time was needed again in the semifinals as Rodrygo scored goals in back-to-back minutes as the match neared its end to square the semifinal against Manchester City at five goals apiece. Benzema was the hero once more in extra time with a penalty for the 6-5 win.

There were new heroes Saturday as Courtois cemented himself as a legend, while Vinicius Jr. and Valverde did enough to catapult Real Madrid to the Champions League title.