Gareth Bale came on as substitute to score one of the greatest goals in Champion League history to win his fourth title with Real Madrid and then issued an ultimatum that he must start games, saying he is considering returning to the Premier League after five years in Spain.
The Welshman was only named on the bench by Zinedine Zidane but came on with an hour played to immediate effect, scoring an overhead kick for his first within two minutes to give his side a lead that they never relinquished. He later made it 3-1 with a speculative 40 yard shot that the Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius parried into his own net, the German’s second major error of the night.
In a dramatic finale to the night, Cristiano Ronaldo also cast doubt on his own future at Real Madrid, saying he would give supporters “an answer” in the weeks to come.
He said: “I'll speak in the next few days. Now it's time to enjoy the moment.” He also said the Champions League should be named “the CR7 Champions League” in his honour after he won his fifth title and finished as the competition’s top scorer.
Bale was uncharacteristically frank about his own future, saying he was unhappy not to have started the game and felt he “needed to be playing every week”.
“That’s something I feel I should be doing. I have plenty of time to relax and see where things go.”
He added: “I will sit down with my agent and discuss it. I need to be playing every week and if that’s not the case here it is something I will really have to consider. The game has literally just finished. I have a long summer to relax. Maybe I will be staying here and maybe not.”
Speaking to BT Sport, Bale said he had been fit since recovering from an injury that he suffered five weeks into the season.
Jurgen Klopp said he feared Mohamed Salah would miss the World Cup finals after suffering what the German described as a “serious injury” to his shoulder. The Egypt international came off in the first half having been thrust to the floor by Sergio Ramos with an arm pinned by the Real Madrid captain preventing Salah from breaking his fall.
“I know if you say something when you lost you’re a bad loser,” Klopp said. “It was a harsh challenge. It was like wrestling. It was unlucky Mo fell on his shoulder. It is a really serious injury. The shock of the boys was obvious. We dropped too deep and Real Madrid tried to use it as positive momentum.”
Klopp later confirmed Salah had gone to hospital for a scan on the injury and that “it doesn’t look good” for his World Cup chances, although he conceded the exact extent of it is still unknown.
Liverpool’s goalkeeper Karius had a dreadful night, ending it in tears having throwing the ball against Karim Benzema’s foot for the first and then being unable to stop Bale’s second, which was struck straight at him. Sadio Mane had scored Liverpool’s only goal in the second half to level the score at 1-1.
Klopp said of Karius: “I really feel for him. The mistakes were obvious and we don’t need to talk about them. He knows it, I know it, we all know it. I am pretty sure in this room if they forget how we lost they will try to remember things like that. I really hope your mistakes are not that good [strong] in memories. We do not have to talk about that. It was not his night.”
He added: “We wanted everything and we got nothing and we got minus with the injury to Mo. We didn’t just lose the final we lost an important player and Egypt lost him for the World Cup. It doesn’t really look good. It’s a football game and we tried everything to win it. I did the best I could do and it wasn’t enough. I have to accept that. Sorry.”