Work in Sports
Real Madrid tops Valencia 3-0 for European crown
Posted: Saturday July 08, 2000 03:58 PM
SAINT-DENIS, France (Ticker) -- Real Madrid romped to a 3-0 win over Valencia in the Champions League final today, taking the title for a record eighth time and the second time in three years.
Needing the victory to qualify for a place in next season's Champions League, Real played with purpose right from the opening whistle and came away with the most one-sided win since AC Milan swept past Barcelona 4-0 in 1994.
"This victory is all part of the great history of Real Madrid," said Real coach Vicente Del Bosque, whose team claimed the trophy in the same city where it won the first Champions League title in 1956, when the competition was known as the European Cup. "I'm very emotional at the moment.
"This is a proud moment for all Real Madrid fans, the players and the people at home."
Led by a furious attack, Madrid dominated every aspect of the game. In the first one-country final in the 45-year history of the world's top club tournament, Madrid took control after about 15 minutes in front a sellout crowd of 73,000 in the Stade de France.
Real enjoyed the better of play in a blistering opening half and were rewarded for their persistence when Fernando Morientes scored in the 39th minute.
Loosely marked off the far post, Morientes hammered home a powerful header from a perfect cross by Michel Salgado as he fought off a Valencia defender.
Midfielder Steve McManaman, who forced Santiago Canizares to make a brilliant diving save in the opening half, left the Valencia keeper no chance when the teams returned after the break.
Pouncing on a bouncing ball just outside the penalty area in the 67th minute, McManaman drove a slicing volley past a helpless Canizares, who was left frozen on the line.
"When I hit it, my eyes were shut again, and the volley went in," said McManaman, who moved to Madrid from Liverpool last season. "I think this is without a doubt the biggest game I've ever played in. The fact that we've come off winners is absolutely fantastic."
With Valencia bringing everyone forward in a desperate attempt to get back into the contest, Raul Gonzalez was set free just inside his own end then raced in alone on Canizares, dancing around the keeper and slashing the ball into the open net off his right foot.
"This is magnificent," said Raul, who will now turn his attention to helping Spain try to claim the European Championship, which begins in a little over two weeks in Belgium and the Netherlands. "We've been working for this for such a long time. After all the criticism we've had this season, we've shown the quality we have on this team."
Raul's 75th-minute goal deflated the thousands of Valencia supporters, who had traveled to Paris hoping to see their club claim its first Champions crown. At the same moment, Madrid supporters began wild celebrations, knowing that only a total collapse could spoil the party. Celebrations featured chants of "Real Madrid, Real Madrid," turning into a rendition of "Viva Espana" as Valencia fans joined the all-Spanish chorus.
Valencia, which had a draw and victory over Real Madrid earlier in league matches, never gave its half of the all-Spanish throng much to yell about in its first Champions League final.
No Real Madrid side has been a more unlikely European champion than this one. Despite some of soccer's most expensive talent, Real lingered near the bottom of the Spanish league late last year, prompting the firing of coach John Toschak and his replacement by long-time team assistant Vicente del Bosque.
"I'm over the hill with this win. It's a special day for all the Real Madrid fans," said Del Bosque, a self-effacing man and former Real player who has been given a one-year contract for next season.
Del Bosque, who played with a losing Real Madrid in the final in Paris 19 years ago against Liverpool, said the victory made up for a rugged few months.
"This season we have upset our fans once in a while, but today it has been the golden touch of the season," he said. "This triumph is proof that in life there is always a second opportunity."
The victory should be worth about US$30 million to a financially troubled club reported to have debts of US$250 million. The money will come from revenues generated in play next season in the Champions League.
Players are also get a US$375,000 bonus, which is more than the reported salary of Real's 19-year-old goalkeeper Iker Casillas. He got a chance after the injury to regular Bodo Illgner early in the season and was playing on a Real Madrid development team a year ago. In the last five Champions League games, he gave up only four goals.
"This is huge," Gonzalez said, encouraging fans in the Spanish capital to come out and celebrate at their traditional gathering point after big victories -- the central Cibeles square. "After all the criticism and ups and downs this season, we have showed once again that we are the best."
Maybe the happiest Real Madrid player was McManaman, who came to Spain with plenty to prove and is still not a regular on England's national side.
"Most of all it's the team that made it a fantastic victory," he said. "No doubt it's the most fantastic game I have ever played in. You have to get the respect of the Spanish players and you have to show them that you can play, It's been a big battle but thankfully I did that."
McManaman's running mate in Real Madrid's midfield, Fernando Redondo, said he was confident from the start.
"The team got out to the pitch determined to win. We knew Valencia's weapons especially in the midfield position but we knew inside that the victory was ours," he said.
Valencia's Argentine coach Hector Cuper let his second straight Euro final slip away -- he lost the UEFA Cup a year ago with Mallorca -- as the Real Madrid defense kept fast-breaking forwards Claudio Lopez and Miguel Angel Angulo well marked.
"It was a very even game until Madrid scored, and Madrid never forgives," said Valencia's Basque striker Gaizka Mendieta. "We had some chances, but we didn't take advantage of them, we have done all we could."
Violence marred the UEFA Cup final a week earlier in Copenhagen, but European club soccer's showcase event unfolded without incident. Supporters of both clubs mingled peacefully and the Stade de France was awash in a fiesta atmosphere.
Real Madrid: Iker Casillas; Michel Salgado (Fernando Hierro, 86th), Roberto Carlos, Ivan Campo, Ivan Helguera, Aitor Karanka, Fernando Redondo, Steve McManaman, Raul Gonzalez, Nicolas Anelka (Manuel Sanchis, 80th), Fernando Morientes (Savio, 72nd).
Valencia: Santiago Canizares; Jocelyn Angloma, Mauricio Pellegrino, Miroslav Djukic, Gerardo (Adrian Ilie 69th), Gaizka Mendieta, Gerard Lopez, Francisco Farinos, Kily Gonzalez, Miguel Angulo, Claudio Lopez.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.