Winning Uefa Champions League in Cardiff a ‘dream come true’ for Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale’s dreams came true as Real Madrid clinched a historic Uefa Champions League triumph in his home city of Cardiff.

Gareth Bale of Real Madrid lifts the Uefa Champions League trophy after his side beat Juventus 4-1 in the final at the National Stadium of Wales on June 3, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. Matthias Hangst / Getty Images
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Gareth Bale’s dreams came true as Real Madrid clinched a historic Uefa Champions League triumph in his home city of Cardiff.

Having played an important role in the triumphs of 2014 and 2016, the 27-year-old Welshman started this year’s showpiece finale on the bench.

Zinedine Zidane favoured in-form Isco for a final that Bale entered as a 77th-minute substitute, making a timely return from a calf injury as Real Madrid overcame Juventus in surprisingly comprehensive fashion.

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■ Juventus: Gigi Buffon says Real Madrid 'showed their class'

■ In pictures: Real Madrid beat Juventus to defend Uefa Champions League title

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The 4-1 victory saw the Spanish side become the first team in the Champions League era to retain the title – and doing so on home turf meant a lot to their Wales international.

“To win at home is a dream come true,” Bale told BT Sport. “It’s been a hard season and I’ve worked hard.

“It didn’t seem like I was going to make it to the final but I’ve worked tirelessly at home and it’s the reward you get for all the hard work you’ve put in.”

Madrid are winners of European football’s leading club competition for a 12th time. “We’ve made more history,” Bale said. “I’m a happy man to win the 12th and we’ll enjoy this moment now.

“What an incredible stadium. The city have done an immaculate job in hosting such a great event and we thank everyone for that.”

Madrid had looked to be facing an uphill battle after Mario Mandzukic cancelled out Cristiano Ronaldo’s opening goal with an exquisite overhead kick.

Juventus edged the first half but Madrid returned from the break rejuvenated, with the Portuguese taking his tally to 600 goals for club and country in-between breakthroughs from Casemiro and Marco Asensio.

The Italians also had substitute Juan Cuadrado dismissed six minutes from time, when the score was 3-1, after two yellow cards.

It was the third Champions League final Ronaldo has scored in, while Zinedine Zidane, a former Juve player, became the first manager to retain the European title since Arrigo Sacchi accomplished the feat with AC Milan in 1989 and 1990.

The Frenchman recalled previous criticism when he said: “I don’t want to say I’m very good because before I was scandalously bad as a coach and now I’m supposed to be the best.

“I love football. I have the chance to be with this great club, with this great squad.

“We’re working hard. We worked hard all season, thinking we could achieve things because in the long run everyone’s been very important.

“For me, that’s the success and the key.”

* Press Association

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