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Decimals to Decima: Triumph for Real Madrid

May 26 2014, 10:53 IST
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Cristiano Ronaldo holds aloft Real Madrid’s 10th Champions League title. (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo holds aloft Real Madrid’s 10th Champions League title. (AP)
SummaryReal Madrid won the first intracity Champions League final by beating Atlético Madrid, 4-1, after extra time.

Real Madrid Manager Carlo Ancelotti was in the midst of giving a calm, measured response to a question about his team’s tactics when the door to the news conference room burst open. Suddenly, seven of Ancelotti’s players were on the dais with him, jumping around, singing and spraying Champagne.

Ancelotti laughed. In some ways it was fitting: A news conference invasion was the perfect ending to a bizarre but magical evening that had a miraculous goal, a memorable kiss and a rich finish from the sport’s most expensive player as Real Madrid won the first intracity Champions League final by beating Atlético Madrid, 4-1, after extra time.

“Real Madrid fans are extremely happy,” Ancelotti said, “and that’s why we are happy, too.”

Even a placid Italian like Ancelotti would acknowledge that was putting it lightly. At the final whistle, while his Real teammates skipped around the field, Gareth Bale put his hands to his face as if in disbelief. He was surely not alone — the twists and curves at the Estadio da Luz on Saturday came so fast as to be unbelievable, with Bale’s goal in the 110th minute allowing Real to finally claim the club’s coveted 10th European title — La Decima.

The swollen final score belied the drama. Atlético, the scrappy second team of the Spanish capital with a payroll about a quarter the size of its neighbour’s, was seconds away from winning its first Champions League trophy only to have it ripped away when Sergio Ramos’s desperate header found the corner of the net in the 93rd minute.

Sweat, warmth and kisses

Moments later, at the end of regulation, Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas — whose mistake had helped Atlético take its lead — wrapped his arms around Ramos and kissed his sweaty cheek.

During a television interview after the match, Ramos said that Casillas told him, “You are the chief,” including an expletive for emphasis. “I would have liked Ramos’s goal a bit earlier,” Real’s president, Florentino Pérez, said, “so as to avoid a heart attack.”

Atlético Manager Diego Simeone tried to rally his players after the letdown, screaming at them in the huddle before extra time. But without their top attacker, Diego Costa, who was replaced after just nine minutes because of an injured hamstring, there was no way back for the red-and-white-striped Rojiblancos, who were seeking an unlikely double after winning the Spanish league.

Real dominated the extra periods, and appropriately enough it

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