Gareth Bale came from the bench to smash home an astonishing overhead kick and also scored a long range shot, helping Real Madrid to seal a third successive European Cup.
The Welsh Winger was signed by Real Madrid for what was a world record €100 million fee from Tottenham in 2013 and despite criticism over the years, it is fair to say he has paid it all back now.
Earlier on Saturday, the Madrid media had speculated that Bale would start the Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev, something which would have seemed unrealistic just a few weeks ago.
With Zinedine Zidane’s side 2-0 down at home to Juventus in the quarter-finals and in danger of throwing away their three-goal lead from the first leg, Bale was hauled off at half-time. It was a humiliating moment for the 28-year-old, and it looked like the beginning of the end.
But Bale knuckled down and even though he did not start either of the semi-final games against Bayern Munich, he worked hard to get back into Zidane’s plans by scoring five goals in four consecutive league appearances prior to the trip to Kiev.
Perhaps the thinking from Zidane was to bring Bale on in the second half to exploit some tired Liverpool legs, with Jurgen Klopp’s men always likely to fade after their early intensity.
Liverpool looked deflated after Mohamed Salah departed with a shoulder injury, following a rough challenge from Sergio Ramos and even though the two teams went in on level terms at the break, the momentum seemed to have swung in Madrid’s favour.
The Spanish side took the lead following a horrible error from Reds goalkeeper Loris Karius, with Karim Benzema the grateful recipient, just as he had been in the semi-final second leg at home to Bayern Munich.
Sadio Mane quickly equalized at the other end, though, and after 61 minutes it was time for Bale to be introduced. The winger replaced Isco and made virtually an instant impact as he netted an outrageous overhead kick from the edge of the box.
“I was very disappointed not to start the game, I felt like I deserved it,” Bale told BT Sport at the final whistle, admitting his first strike was the best goal of his career.
“The best I could do is come on and make an impact and that’s what I did. We know what we have achieved and we know how good we have been. It’s turned out to be a great season winning the Champions League.
“Will I leave this summer? I need to be playing week in week out, it hasn’t happened this season for one reason or another. I need to sit down in the summer and discuss things with my agent and take things from there,” Bale continued.
Late in the game, Bale also added another goal with a long-range effort which was fumbled by the helpless Karius and that, added to his header in the 2014 final win over Atletico, means he now has three Champions League final goals.
When Real Madrid bought him, the dream was La Decima – a 10th European Cup. But now Los Blancos have 13 and Bale has played a part in four of them.