Champions League Final: Gareth Bale's Real Madrid Expectations 'Blown Out Of Water'

Ryan Giggs says Gareth Bale could decide Champions League final

Bale is not certain to start for Real Madrid in Saturday's showdown in Kiev, despite scoring five goals in four La Liga games for the reigning European champions.

However, just three minutes after coming on as a substitute, Bale restored Real's lead with arguably one the best goals ever seen in a Champions League final, connecting superbly with Marcelo's defected cross.

With the game at 1-1 after Sadio Mane had cancelled out Karim Benzema's opener, Bale entered the fray and made an nearly immediate impact with an incredible overhead-kick goal to restore Real's lead.

On the 83rd minute, Bale sealed the final with another winding long-range effort, but it should've been saved by Karius who produced his second blunder.

Real, 12-times European champions, are aiming to become the first team to win three successive finals in the Champions League era, while Liverpool are looking for their sixth European title and first since 2005.

In the match held in Kiev's Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Egypt talisman Mohamed Salah was forced to exit the game in tears after suffering an apparent shoulder injury in the 31st minute.

The former Tottenham and Southampton winger even refused to rule out a move to Bayern Munich earlier this season, though Zinedine Zidane has repeatedly maintained that he does not have an issue with Bale.

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The Welshman had been tipped to feature in the Real starting line-up but in the end was left out for Isco - just as he had been in the final win over Juventus past year - before making an emphatic impact as a substitute.

Such a strike deserved to be the victor, although it was his long-range shot that beat the embarrassed Karius in the 83rd minute that made sure of the victory. His deputy, Simon Mignolet, is also not good enough, so Jurgen Klopp must bite the bullet this summer and invest heavily on a top keeper.

With Salah gone and conceding in such a freaky fashion, you thought that might be it for Liverpool.

"They can cause us problems, we know that".

"So really it's a 50-50 game. I have played in three and this could be a fourth win, it has blown any expectations I had out of the water".

Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC.

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