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Once again, the rest of football bowed to the sheer inevitability of Real Madrid in the Champions League… they were outplayed by Borussia Dortmund, they rode their luck but still they won, writes OLIVER HOLT

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Forty minutes after the final whistle, when Real Madrid had collected yet another Champions League trophy to add to their collection and their players were cavorting on the Wembley pitch, their winners’ medals round their necks, the music began to play; Jude Bellingham‘s music.

The sound of The Beatles rang around this site that has seen so many momentous European evenings and carved the names of great players like George Best, Bobby Charlton, Kenny Dalglish, Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben into the history of the competition and made them immortal.

The Madrid fans in the wall of white shirts behind the goal, raised their scarves in the air and began to sing in unison, saluting the man who has become their hero.

‘Hey Jude, don’t make it bad,’ they yelled, ‘take a sad song and make it better, remember to let her into your heart, then you can start to make it better.’ Below them on the pitch, Bellingham gripped his medal between his teeth and saluted them back.

In common with the rest of his team-mates, Bellingham had had a quiet first-half as Borussia Dortmund, his former team, had made chance after chance and threatened to cause one of the most seismic shocks in the history of the competition.

Real Madrid made Borussia Dortmund bow to the sheer inevitability of them winning the Champions League

Real Madrid made Borussia Dortmund bow to the sheer inevitability of them winning the Champions League

Dani Carvajal opened the scoring in the second half to put Real Madrid on course for a 15th Champions League crown

Dani Carvajal opened the scoring in the second half to put Real Madrid on course for a 15th Champions League crown 

Vinicius Jr delivered the nail in the coffin as Dortmund struggled to bounce back at Wembley

Vinicius Jr delivered the nail in the coffin as Dortmund struggled to bounce back at Wembley 

But Bellingham has a gift, just as all the great players have. He can have a quiet game and then he can win it for you. And that was what he helped to do here.

With Madrid 1-0 up but still vulnerable, Bellingham seized on a tired pass from Ian Maatsen seven minutes from the end and did not hesitate. He saw Vinicius Jnr free to his left and he found him immediately with a slide-rule pass. Vinicius Jnr made the rest look easy. Game over.

Bellingham is only 20 and already, at the end of his first season in Spain, he has won LaLiga, he has been named LaLiga’s Player of the Year, hailed as the world’s most valuable player and now he is a Champions League winner.

It was the only thing missing from his resume at the club and now he has won it at the first attempt. It is the trophy that allows him to pass into legend at the Bernabeu. Winning LaLiga is one thing but winning the Champions League is what fuels Real Madrid and this victory elevates Bellingham to the pantheon.

And so this was how Dortmund and the rest of football bowed to the sheer inevitability of Real Madrid in the Champions League. Their record in the competition is astounding. They were outplayed in this match but they still won. They always win. They have not lost in a European Cup final since Liverpool beat them in Paris in 1981.

This was the 15th time they have won the trophy, more than twice the tally of their nearest rival. It was also the fifth victory for their coach, Carlo Ancelotti, which puts him even further clear of a field that contains Bob Paisley, Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane as his closest followers.

Sure, Madrid rode their luck. They often do. They did it against Liverpool in Paris two years ago. And yes, Vini Jnr was fortunate not to be sent off in the first half for a dive that would have been a second bookable offence. But Dortmund had their chances to win and they could not take them.

Poor Dortmund. Bellingham’s former side created chance after chance after chance in the first half and blew them all. When you do that against Madrid, sooner or later you will be punished. Dortmund must feel they are cursed at Wembley. It was here, 11 years ago, where they lost to Bayern in their only other Champions League final.

Nacho Fernandez held aloft Real Madrid's 15th Champions League trophy. They have not lost a European Cup final since 1981

Nacho Fernandez held aloft Real Madrid’s 15th Champions League trophy. They have not lost a European Cup final since 1981 

The start of the match was marred by pitch invaders, with Dortmund midfielder Marcel Sabitzer tackling one to the ground

The start of the match was marred by pitch invaders, with Dortmund midfielder Marcel Sabitzer tackling one to the ground

Jude Bellingham has claimed his first Champions League crown after one year at the Bernabeu

Jude Bellingham has claimed his first Champions League crown after one year at the Bernabeu

Carlo Ancelotti has triumphed in the Champions League for the fifth time, with Madrid winning for the sixth time in 11 years

Madrid were hot favourites going into the game. Leaving aside their unrivalled record in the competition, they were fresh from winning LaLiga at a canter and had dismissed the might of Manchester City in the quarter-finals.

Dortmund, in contrast, were still coming to terms with an ordinary season in the Bundesliga, where they had finished fifth behind Bayer Leverkusen, VfB Stuttgart, Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig. On paper and in the list of bookmakers’ odds, it was a mismatch.

The game started with an element of farce. There were three pitch invasions in the first minute, which was not a great look for Wembley, especially after the malevolent chaos that had overtaken the Euro 2020 final here.

Neither team was able to establish an early rhythm but Madrid looked nervous and, roared on by their fervent choir, a yellow wall of supporters transplanted to north west London from the Westfalenstadion, Dortmund started more brightly.

They made the first half chance of the game when Fullkrug ran on to a ball over the top of the Madrid defence, took it down well and laid it into the path of Julian Brandt. Brandt advanced on goal but was put off by a nudge in the back and shot wide.

The next time Dortmund threatened, they should have scored. Mats Hummels played a brilliant through ball to Karim Adeyemi, who beat the offside trap and ran through alone with only Thibault Courtois, preferred to Andriy Lunin, to beat.

Courtois stood tall and refused to commit himself and instead of shooting, Adeyemi took the ball round him. He pushed the ball too wide and when he tried to hook the ball into the net from a tight angle, Dani Carvajal blocked it.

Madrid seemed stunned. Dortmund were rampant. Fullkrug ran on to another through ball and poked his shot past the left hand of Courtois. Courtois turned and watched it roll towards the net but it rebounded off the inside of the post and was hacked to safety.

Jadon Sancho as crestfallen at full-time after unexpectedly reaching the final on loan from Manchester United

Jadon Sancho as crestfallen at full-time after unexpectedly reaching the final on loan from Manchester United

Niclas Fullkrug thought he had pulled one back late on but had a goal disallowed

Niclas Fullkrug thought he had pulled one back late on but had a goal disallowed 

Vinicius Jrmight have been sent off in the first half after a dive, but ended up securing the win

Vinicius Jrmight have been sent off in the first half after a dive, but ended up securing the win 

Madrid were giving chances away at will. They could not cope with Adeyemi’s pace on the Dortmund left and when he sprinted on to another through ball, he forced a diving save out of Courtois. The ball looped into the air, Fullkrug desperately tried to contort his body so he could head the ball into the empty net but it was just too far behind him.

Madrid began the second half with more purpose. Kobel made his first proper save of the game when he flung himself to his right to push a free kick from Toni Kroos, playing the 717th and last club game of a decorated career, round the post.

Ancelotti had pushed Bellingham further forward into the role where he had enjoyed so much success earlier in the season and Madrid looked better balanced and more positive. It took a combination of Emre Can and Kobel to smother a back-post volley from Carvajal.

But just when it seemed as if Madrid were asserting their ascendancy, Dortmund gave them another fright. Adeyemi found some space on the left and crossed to the back post where Fullkrug was lurking unmarked. Fullkrug threw himself at the ball but his header was too close to Courtois and the Madrid keeper beat it away.

Midway though the half, Bellingham nearly stole a goal for Madrid. He ran on to a floated cross and leapt with Kobel to try to flick it in. Neither Bellingham nor the goalkeeper got a touch and the ball bounced just wide.

Toni Kroos was able to treasure a final honour in club football before retirement while Marco Reus' night ended in disappointment

Toni Kroos was able to treasure a final honour in club football before retirement while Marco Reus’ night ended in disappointment 

Fans exulted with Rodrygo and an inflatable trophy in the wake of their 15th triumph

Fans exulted with Rodrygo and an inflatable trophy in the wake of their 15th triumph 

Madrid exerted more pressure now. Vini Jnr, who might have been sent off in the first half for a dive that should have brought a second yellow card, produced an outrageous piece of skill to nutmeg Julian Ryerson and win a corner.

Dortmund could not clear the ball and from a second corner, taken by Kroos in the 74th minute, Carvajal rose at the near post and glanced the ball past Kobel and past a defender’s desperate attempt to clear it off the line. It was his first goal in the Champions League for five years.

Bellingham nearly doubled Madrid’s lead a couple of minutes later when he controlled the ball beautifully in the box and shaped to curl the ball past Kobel. The ball was heading goalwards until a superb intervention from Nico Schlotterbeck deflected it wide.

Kroos forced another save out of Kobel with a curling free kick and the goalkeeper tipped a swerving shot from Eduardo Camavinga over the crossbar. Skipper Nacho nearly scored with a carbon copy near post glancing header from a Kroos corner but this time, Kobel kept it out.

It did not matter. Eight minutes from time, Maatsen gave the ball away to Bellingham and the rest is Champions League history.





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