PV Sports Desk : With his back to goal but eyes on the incoming cross, Gareth Bale connected with the ball while leaping in the air and sent a scissor-kick arcing into the top of the net.
Fusing athleticism and technique, it was a mesmerizing sight to behold from the Real Madrid forward.
Rarely has there been a finer goal in a European final and Bale followed it up with another to seal Madrid’s third successive Champions League title in a 3-1 victory over Liverpool on Saturday. Yet with blunders, injuries and intrigue unfolding throughout the night in Kiev’s Olympic Stadium, the wonder-goal just enriched this engrossing climax to the European club season and set the tone for weeks of uncertainty.
A weeping Mohamed Salah was forced off in the first half with a shoulder injury that foiled Liverpool’s quest for a first continental success in 13 years and left the World Cup hopes of the “Egyptian King” in jeopardy.
Tears also streamed down Loris Karius’ face after the Liverpool goalkeeper’s mistakes gifted two goals in the biggest match of his career. It might also be his last for Liverpool, which was denied a sixth European title by the aristocrats of the continent.
When all they should have been thinking about is celebrating, both Bale and teammate Cristiano Ronaldo also cast doubts on their Madrid careers.
But while Zinedine Zidane was adamant about the need to keep hold of five-time world player of the year Ronaldo, the Madrid coach seemed far less concerned about the future of the player whose two goals just delivered the club’s record-extending 13th European title.
Bale only came on in the second half. The impact was explosive, scoring the bicycle kick in the 64th minute. Five years into his Madrid career, the 28-year-old Bale wants to be more than a super-sub.
“I need to be playing week in, week out and that hasn’t happened this season for one reason or another,” Bale said after lifting the European Cup for a fourth time with Madrid. “I need to sit down in the summer and discuss it with my agent.”
Will Bale get assurances over a place in the starting XI?
“It might be complicated,” Zidane said. “But everybody looks out for themselves and takes care of their own thing, and I understand that.”
Zidane doesn’t understand why Ronaldo raised fresh doubts over his commitment to the club.
“He must stay,” Zidane said. “He will stay with us.”
While Ronaldo became the first five-time winner in the post-1993 Champions League era, this was a comparatively muted performance in a final for a player who has contributed decisive goals in the three finals Madrid had contested in the previous four seasons.