Champions League final: Real Madrid surges late for 2–0 victory over Dortmund

Dortmund dominated the first half, but Madrid took control after halftime

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 01: Kroos of Real Madrid celebrates victory after the UEFA Champions League 2023/24 Final match between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid CF at Wembley Stadium on June 01, 2024 in London, England. Real Madrid's German midfielder Toni Kroos retired after this summer's European Championship largely known as the UEFA EURO 2024. (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Kroos of Real Madrid celebrates winning the UEFA Champions League Final match 2–0 over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium. (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Real Madrid is an inevitability in the Champions League final. Los Blancos won their 15th Champions League title with a 2–0 victory over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.

Madrid has won six titles in the past 11 years. Dortmund was looking for its second championship in club history.

Throughout the first half, Dortmund looked like the better club, frequently keeping the ball on the Madrid side of the field and creating multiple scoring chances. Yet Madrid didn't surrender a goal as the game went into halftime tied at 0–0.

Madrid looked to change tactics early in the second half and Vinicius Junior made a path toward the net that earned a free kick. But Toni Kroos' attempt went toward the top left corner and Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel tapped it away.

That was the beginning of Madrid taking more control and playing more aggressively. At the 73:30 mark, Dani Carvajal finally broke through with a header off a corner kick from Kroos that went high and wide left past Kobel for a 1–0 lead. That was Carvajal's sixth goal of the season, but his first in Champions League and obviously came at the best possible time for Madrid.

Shortly thereafter at 82:10, Vinicius took a pass from Jude Bellingham and sent it in for a 2–0 lead. Bellingham easily intercepted a centering pass from Ian Maatsen and found Vinicius streaking open for a clear shot and his 24th goal of the season.

Dortmund missed several chances to score midway through the first half. Perhaps the best of them was from Niclas Füllkrug, whose shot past Thibaut Courtois hit the post.

Karim Adeyemi and Julian Brandt also had excellent chances to open the scoring, but were either forced wide of the net by defenders or a kick sailed wide.

The action frequently appeared to take place on Madrid's side of the field in the first half. But Dortmund couldn't break through.

While Madrid kept the match scoreless, Vinicius Junior had an opportunity at the 43:00 mark, streaking down the left side. However, Mats Hummels pushed Junior wide before he lost the ball on a slide tackle attempt.

One issue that fans of both clubs — and nearly everyone watching in the stadium or on TV — could agree on was that rocker Lenny Kravitz performing on the field so close to game time was unnecessary.

Kravitz put on a solid performance, mixing in hits like "Fly Away" and "Are You Gonna Go My Way" with songs from his new album, "Blue Electric Light." Yet no one in attendance — especially the Yellow Wall singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" — seemed impressed, impatient for the UCL final to begin.

Those Dortmund fans were eventually thrilled with a strong first half from their club. Squandering those three scoring chances likely made the second half surge and breakthrough by Madrid even more disappointing.

Here's how the entire match unfolded live:

  • Featured

    It's over!

    Real Madrid, European champions for the 15th time, more than twice as often as any other club.

    They've won six in the last 11 years; only one other club has won more than six in the entire seven-decade history of the competition.

    Dortmund gave it quite a run in the first half, but didn't have the quality. And the inevitable, in the end, was indeed inevitable.

  • Toni Kroos: legend

    He was subbed off in the 84th minute, and left the field pumping his fists to the Real Madrid fans, as if the game was already won — because it is. This is Real Madrid.

    What a career, and he topped it off with a trademark, pinpoint corner that decided the final.

    Madrid ran the exact same set play at least three times from left-sided corners: A near-post ball toward Nacho and Dani Carvajal. All three times, it yielded headers on or nearly on goal. And Dortmund just couldn't stop it, because Kroos' deliveries were so precise.

  • Füllkrug scores, but he's offside

    Every single inch goes in Real Madrid's favor in Champions League finals. Incredible.

    Still 2-0, two minutes plus stoppage time to go.

  • 2-0! Vini!

    Game, set, match.

    Vinicius Jr. punishes Dortmund's sloppiness.

    Jude Bellingham takes a gift, feeds Vini, and a scruffy finish all but seals a 15th European title for Real Madrid.

    Vini dances, and celebration mode commences.

  • Dani Carvajal, the unlikeliest goalscorer

    Of the 20 outfield players on the pitch, was there a more unlikely goalscorer?!?

    Carvajal, a 32-year-old fullback who's playing in his sixth Champions League final today, had only scored once in 86 UCL appearances.

    He's also one of the shortest players on the field, at 5-foot-8.

    And he might've just won the final with a header from a corner!

  • Dani Carvajal goal!

    The second Champions League goal of his long Real Madrid career!

    What a moment!

    1-0 to Real Madrid.

  • First sub: Marco Reus

    Marco Reus, a Dortmund legend, is on for Adeyemi.

    It's his final game for his boyhood club. At age 35, he's leaving at the end of the season.

    If he can concoct a goal, what a story that would be...

  • Real Madrid chance

    A trademark Bellingham run. A wonderfully weighted Vini cross. But Bellingham — who hasn't looked 100% physically — seemed to pull out of the aerial duel as Kobel rushed off his line, and neither made real contact.

    71st minute, still 0-0.

  • Strong Courtois save

    Niclas Füllkrug blasts a powerful header at Thibaut Courtois — whose save was comfortable, but would've been very tricky if the header was a foot or two left or right.

  • The atmosphere at Wembley:

    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 01: A general view of the inside of the stadium as fans of Borussia Dortmund use Red Smoke Flares during the UEFA Champions League 2023/24 Final match between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid CF at Wembley Stadium on June 01, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
    LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 01: A general view of the inside of the stadium as fans of Borussia Dortmund use Red Smoke Flares during the UEFA Champions League 2023/24 Final match between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid CF at Wembley Stadium on June 01, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
  • Real Madrid has settled

    The favorites aren't dominant just yet. But they've had a few clean passages of play, and half-chances. A significant departure from the first half.

    Still waiting for a breakthrough, though — from either side.

  • Toni Kroos tests Kobel

    Vinicius Jr. led a break that was roughly 1.5-on-7. He expertly delayed, with a bit of misdirection, and then won a free kick.

    Kroos sent that free kick toward the top corner, and Gregor Kobel palmed it away.

    0-0, 50th minute.

  • Second half underway

    No personnel changes. But surely there has to be some sort of change for Real Madrid.

  • Halftime: 0-0

    Dortmund clearly the better team over those 45 minutes. The rough xG (expected goals) tally was incredibly, and surprisingly, lopsided: Dortmund 1.7, Real Madrid 0.1

    But, with all the star power on Real Madrid's side, Dortmund just couldn't quite take advantage of the chances it created.

    Tense, fascinating second half ahead.

  • Dortmund all over Real Madrid

    Adeyemi and Füllkrug go close again.

    Dortmund just had a 6-on-3 counterattack off a Real Madrid corner.

    Only one team looks like scoring.

    But remember, if history tells us anything... Real Madrid has Dortmund just where it wants 'em.

    Time and time again, Madrid sleepwalks through parts of Champions League games, and somehow, someway, aura saves them.

    Case in point: The final two years ago. Halftime reading, if you're interested.

    (Still 0-0 here after 31 minutes.)

  • Niclas Füllkrug off the post!

    Dortmund with a flurry of chances, and Füllkrug is inches away from scoring — though he probably would've been offside on VAR review.

  • Dortmund chance!

    ... and Karim Adeyemi makes a mess of it.

    Timed his run excellently, and Mats Hummels picked him out with a multiple-line-breaking through-ball. Adeyemi was 1 on 1 with Thibaut Courtois, tried to round the Real Madrid keeper, and his touch just took him too wide.

    Big moment.

  • Camavinga on Sancho

    Remember when we told you pregame that Eduardo Camavinga would have to slide to his left to cover Jadon Sancho, because Toni Kroos couldn't handle that task alone?

    Camavinga was a bit slow to meet his first real test, and fouled Sancho. Lucky to get away without a yellow.

  • A balanced opening 10 minutes

    No real chances through 10 minutes.

    But remember, in this competition, game flow really doesn't matter to or apply to Real Madrid. Their goal is just as likely to come out of nothing.

  • The game begins with... a pitch invader

    The game kicks off... and within 20 seconds, somehow, a fan makes his way onto the field, right to the center circle, seemingly uncontested.

    And then, 30 seconds later, a second pitch invader joins him.

    Great start, everyone. Great start.

  • Pre-game concerts are dumb

    Especially 10 minutes before kickoff.

    Please, UEFA, let the Dortmund fans sing.

  • One tactical battle to watch

    Dortmund's best chance today would seem to revolve around the right half-space.

    Jadon Sancho and Julian Brandt are BVB's most impactful attacking players. Toni Kroos, who'll likely play on the left side of Real Madrid's midfield, is 34 and will be the least mobile player on the pitch. Kroos is brilliant with the ball at his feet, of course, but can be a liability without it.

    Expect Dortmund to try to attack the space that Kroos is supposed to patrol, and then run at Ferland Mendy and Nacho on the left side of Real Madrid's defense.

    (The pressure, in turn, will be on Eduardo Camavinga to slide over from his defensive midfield position, and make up for Kroos' defensive frailty

  • The absurdity of Real Madrid's record in Europe

    Knockout soccer — whether at the World Cup, or in the Champions League, or domestic cups, whatever — is notoriously random.

    Just look at Manchester City, winner of the world's toughest domestic league six of the past seven years. During that stretch, City has only made two Champions League finals, and only won one (by a single goal).

    All of that is what makes Real Madrid's record in Europe so remarkable. For one team to win the world's top competition more often than not over a span of 11 years — which what Madrid can achieve today — would be bonkers.

  • Establishment vs. Anti-Establishment

    This is the ultimate establishment-vs.-anti-establishment final.

    Real Madrid are the kings of European football. Since the very first edition of the European Cup (1955-56), which they won (just like the next four as well), they've held that title. They've now won the competition twice as much as anybody else. They're one of the richest clubs in the world — if not the richest. They have outsize political pull in Spain and at UEFA. They even tried to reshape European soccer around their power — by launching the Super League. Three years later, they're still championing the "project."

    Dortmund, meanwhile, were a key Super League holdout. Their opposition helped ensure it collapsed. They — club officials and fans alike — have regularly spoken out against the rampant commercialization of football, both in Germany and Europe. They've resisted dirty money. They still carry a very Jurgen Klopp-ian, upstart ethos.

    Dortmund, of course, has money too. Its annual revenue ranked 12th in the world last year. But its €420 million was roughly half as much as Madrid's haul. This is mismatch, on the field and off it, financially and culturally — all of it.

  • Setting the stage

    So, here we are. Wembley. Real Madrid. And a Champions League final that many think is a foregone conclusion.

    Madrid has 14 European titles; Dortmund has one.

    Madrid won its domestic league going away; Dortmund finished fifth in Germany

    But other finals that felt similarly — Bayern Munich-Chelsea in 2012, Man City-Inter Milan last year — have been much tighter than expected. No matter what it looks like on paper, the best bet is that we'll get an entertaining (or at least interesting and contested) game.

  • Lineups

    Here's how the two teams will line up:

    (via UEFA)
    (via UEFA)

    No surprises whatsoever.

  • In advance of any high-level soccer match, lineups typically get released 60 or 75 minutes before kickoff.

    Ahead of the highest-level soccer match, this Champions League final, Real Madrid ... posted its starting 11 a full two hours and 40 minutes beforehand.

    A move that sets the tone for the night, and screams: "Here we are, we are better than you; try to beat us — bet you can't."

    And, well, it's tough to argue with them.