KEIR RADNEDGE at WEMBLEY —- Records are for breaking. Or, in the case of Real Madrid, extending, after they conjured a Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund to lay hands on a 15th European crown. Madrid somehow overcame the football equivalent of a near-death experience in the first half to seize their destiny and a 2-0 win through late goals from Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior.

Veteran playmaker Toni Kroos thus ended his club career in glory and, along with his substitute Lukas Modric, Carvajal and captain Nacho matched the six-times individual record set by olden-days hero Paco Gento.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti had labelled this “our most dangerous game” and was vindicated as Dortmund threatened an upset to match the Wembley reversal of the previous week when Manchester United saw off vaunted neighbours City in the English FA Cup Final.

Real Madrid at Wembley: Happy days are here – yet again

No second strike of lightning this time, however, so Dortmund failed again on the stage where they had succumbed to Bayern Munich in 2013. They will wonder all summer how they let the match escape them. Glory was within reach but until poor finishing and, finally, sloppy defending betrayed them. Madrid thus drew once more on the mystical resilience which had vanquished Manchester City and Bayern.

Jude Bellingham crowned his remarkable first season with Madrid as not only a champion of Spain but a champion of Europe. This is an accolade he will hope to emulate with England at the Euro finals in Germany in six weeks’ time.

On the other side of the English coin Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho will return to Manchester United with just a runners-up medal. No Euro extension of the season for him; the final whistle signalled the end of his loan spell in the Ruhr.

Mixed messaging

The Champions League Final is possessed of a worldwide magnetism illustrated by the appearance of fireworks-enhanced Lenny Kravitz as the mere warm-up act. Not that the fans present at Wembley needed one. Dortmund fans were even self-possessed enough to string up a less-than-appreciative English-language banner-message to UEFA: “You don’t care about football all you care about is money”.

This excitement proved too much in the opening minutes for three fans who ran on to the pitch. One even snatched selfies with a bemused Jude Bellingham and Vinicius before the ‘proper’ action was launched.

Madrid struggled to put their game together so it was an energetic Dortmund who set the pace to create – and waste – three major opportunities.

First Karim Adeyemi ran clear behind the Madrid back line on to Mats Hummels’s through ball only for keeper Thibaud Courtois to force him wide; moments later Niclas Fullkrug hit a post and the ball ricocheted back across the face of goal; finally the dangerous Adeyemi drew a vital save from the Madrid keeper.

Fine save

Madrid continued to be their own worst enemies and Courtois had to be at his best again after Kroos was caught in possession. The Belgian keeper, in only his sixth appearance of an injury-shattered season, dived low to his right to beat away a low drive from Marcel Sabitzer.

Dortmund should have been ahead at halftime, instead their only lead was in terms of yellow cards: two for Nico Schlotterbeck and Sabizter against one for Vincius.

Ancelotti presumably welcomed his players into the dressing room at halftime with more then merely his habitual raised eyebrow of disappointment.

Madrid duly began the second half in more meaningful fashion. Kroos had a swirling free kick saved by keeper Gregor Kobel at the expense of a corner from which Carvajal skimmed a header over the bar. Madrid’s veteran rightback then drew a sharp stop from Kobel after Dortmund failed to clear a left-wing cross.

At the other end it was Courtois to the rescue yet again, beating out a point-blank-range diving header from Fullkrug. The miss and the save could not have proved any more significant. That proved Dortmund’s last opportunity to overthrow the favourites, as their predecessors had overturned Juventus in the final in 1997.


Dortmund pulled the first substitution, replacing the fading Adeyemi with veteran midfielder Marcus Reus. As they shuffled their pack so Madrid pounced, with Carvajal heading home a left-wing corner from Kroos in a deadly repeat of their earlier set-piece.

That single strike reversed the technical and emotional dynamic of the game. Bellingham was close to a second goal then Kobel was forced to fine saves from Kroos, with another free kick, Eduardo Camavinga and Madrid captain Nacho.

The writing was on the Wembley wall. Dortmund fell apart and Vinicius duly punished them with his 24th goal of the season after Bellingham seized on a sloppy pass from Ian Maatsen.

Ancelotti permitted himself the sentimental substitution of Kroos with Luka Modric, one leaving and one arriving, briefly, to generous applause. All over . . . bar the shouting and singing and celebration. History men yet again.

The teams

Borussia Dortmund: Kobel – Ryerson, Hummels, Schlotterbeck, Maatsen – Can (Malen 80), Brandt (Haller 81), Sabitzer – Sancho (Bynoe-Gittens 87), Fullkrug, Adeyemi (Reus72). Coach: Terzic.

Real Madrid: Courtois – Dani Carvajal, Rudiger, Nacho, Mendy – Valverde, Camavinga, Kroos (Modric 86) – Bellingham (Joselu 85) – Rodrygo (Eder Militao 90), Vinicius (Lucas Vazquez 90). Coach: Ancelotti.

Referee: Vincic (Sna). Attendance: 86,212.