Champions League: Atletico Madrid decimated
Real rebound as Atletico fade
REPORTING FROM THE UK
REAL MADRID 4 (Sergio Ramos 90+3, Gareth Bale 110, Marcelo 118, Cristiano Ronaldo 120-pen)
ATLETICO MADRID 1 (Diego Godin 36)
Real Madrid finally ended their 12-year European drought yesterday morning (Singapore time), completing what their president Florentino Perez had long referred to as "La Decima".
With 10 European Cups in their grasp, there is little doubt that they are the greatest club in the history of the competition.
And yet they were just two minutes from humiliation in Lisbon, stifled and frustrated by their depleted neighbours.
For Atletico Madrid, this was history repeating itself with extreme prejudice.
In 1974, they had been moments away from beating Bayern Munich at the Heysel Stadium only to see centre-back Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck score and take the game to a replay, which the Germans won 4-0.
This time, it was centre back Sergio Ramos who placed a header into the bottom corner of Thibaut Courtois' goal, finally cancelling out Diego Godin's first-half opener.
Ramos struck gold where the famous BBC combination of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo had all struck out.
For 93 minutes, Atletico's disciplined banks of four kept the most expensive front line in the world at bay.
Fullbacks Juanfran and Felipe Luis stayed deep and close to centre backs Joao Miranda and Godin with an equally adept line of four midfielders never straying too far away.
Real tried everything: They pinged the ball back and forth across the field trying to stretch the compact back line; they went long trying to get the ball behind them; they played neat combinations of short passes, trying to make space. Nothing worked. Atletico snapped like dogs for everything. No 50-50 ball was relinquished without a fight, few of the 40-60 balls went without fisticuffs.
The raw spirit and dedication that have propelled this team to a league title were always evident.
Unfortunately, the key player at the end of everything during this campaign was not.
Diego Simeone gave Diego Costa every chance, picking him when most would not, but after just nine, awkward minutes, the experiment was curtailed.
The Brazilian-born striker was willing, but the hamstrings were weak. And for all the running and guile of Adrian Lopez, he was not a substitute of equal quality.
But after Iker Casillas had made such a mess and allowed Godin to score, Atletico didn't need to attack, they only needed to defend.
In the stands, the Real supporters gradually fell silent, tears rolling down white-and-blue painted faces.
Atletico had stopped them from winning the league, now they were stopping them in Europe as well.
But then came Ramos. Then came the last-gasp goal that will live forever in the memories of both sets of fans, albeit for very different reasons.
Bale and Ronaldo, in particular, owe Ramos an enormous debt of gratitude.
Ronaldo, the World Player of the Year was a subdued presence whose free-kicks were largely ineffectual, though he had at least had the excuse of a niggling injury.
Bale, the most expensive player in the world, might not have survived the fallout to this game had Ramos' header slipped wide.
Three times, he used his ferocious pace and power to burn through the Atletico defence. Three times, his finishing let him down.
A defeat of this scale would require a scapegoat and Bale was shooting as if he had hooves.
But Bale refused to give up and in extra time, he ran 50 metres to follow up Angel di Maria's shot, and head it into an empty net.
Bale, redeemed forever, sprinted into the corner, screaming in boundless jubilation.
Atletico were beaten, they would not come back from this. Legs cramped up, heads drooped to the floor.
When Marcelo approached Courtois' goal shortly afterwards, the defenders could only stare at him wearily as he fired underneath the Belgian stopper.
Then Ronaldo made the most of slight contact from Godin to win a penalty, which he duly converted before ripping off his shirt and flexing his muscles at the crowd as if it had been the crucial goal and not an entirely superfluous strike against broken opposition.
The game would not end without controversy.
In the aftermath of Ronaldo's celebrations, Raphael Varane kicked the ball at Diego Simeone, who returned it at great speed towards his face before running onto the pitch to try and beat him up.
The Argentine manager was sent off, but by then it barely mattered.
Real Madrid rule Europe again, as the history books show.
But will the books recount how close they came to disaster here?
Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty against Atletico makes him the first player to score in a Champions League final for two different clubs, having found the net for Manchester United in 2008. Three other players - Raul, Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi - have scored in two finals but for the same club.
His goal lifts his record tally of goals for a single European Cup campaign to 17. He is now level in the competition's all-time goalscorer chart with Lionel Messi, on 67, four adrift of record marksman Raul Gonzalez.
Ever since I arrived at the club I always felt ready for this moment. The pressure is making me a better player every day.
— Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo
4-1 v Atletico Madrid
2-1 v Bayer Leverkusen
3-0 v Valencia
1-0 v Juventus
2-1 v Partizan Belgrade
7-3 v Eintracht Frankfurt
2-0 v Stade de Reims
3-2 v AC Milan
2-0 v Fiorentina
4-3 v Stade de Reims