Real 2 Leverkusen 1
Sky Sports continues a review of the best finals from the Champions League era with a look at 2001/02, when Zinedine Zidane's wonder-goal inspired Real Madrid to victory over Bayer Leverkusen
By Ryan Parrish
Last Updated: 25/04/13 1:11pm
Zinedine Zidane scored one of the most memorable European goals of all time as Real Madrid claimed their second UEFA Champions League title in three seasons, beating Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 at Hampden Park in 2002.
Leverkusen, who were appearing in their first final, were the tournament's surprise package having knocked out Manchester United in the semi-finals. But Real came into the game as the favourites in what was their 12th and most recent final to date.
Real got off to the perfect start when Roberto Carlos' long throw caught the Leverkusen defence off-guard. Talismanic striker Raul was the quickest to react and he hooked his first-time effort past the helpless Hans-Jorg Butt in the eighth minute. However, Real were only in front for five minutes as Brazilian defender Lucio headed home Bernd Schneider's free-kick to equalise.
The game was firmly in the balance, with both teams creating chances and Leverkusen continuing the attacking mentality which had served them so well throughout the competition. But it looked as though something special would be needed to separate the two sides.
That moment of magic came on the stroke of half-time when Carlos' speculative cross found Zidane unmarked on the edge of the box. The Frenchman adjusted his body shape as the ball dropped from substantial height to unleash an unstoppable left-foot volley into the top corner.
It was a moment of genius from the French maestro, who was rapidly repaying the £53million transfer fee he had commanded the previous year. The midfielder duly collected the Man of the Match award. But he played down the strike, which is widely regarded as his greatest.
"My goal was very nice. But the most important thing was that we won. It has brought me and the team great satisfaction. I took the cross from Roberto Carlos on the volley, slammed it and it went in," he said after the game.
Leverkusen coach Klaus Toppmoller was left stunned by the goal. In his post-match interview, he said: "We can spend all the time on the training ground planning for Real's tactics. But then something special happens that you cannot plan for and in this case it was Zidane's goal."
Real's experience shone in the second half as they managed to nullify the majority of Leverkusen's attacks. But they needed the heroics of substitute goalkeeper Iker Casillas to preserve the win. The 21-year old denied Carsten Ramelow twice in the seven minutes of added time. But Vicente Del Bosque's Real held on.
The win was by no means convincing. But it proved to be a fitting end to Real's centenary season as they clinched their ninth European Cup at the location of their 1960 triumph over Eintracht Frankfurt.
I feel very lucky to have been there to see Zidane's goal in the flesh, because it was one of the great moments in Champions League football history. You thought, as the ball dropped, even in a flash that here was somebody capable of doing something special. It was the sort of moment that makes you love football. I am sure I felt no different to anybody else who saw it. But I was lucky enough to have a microphone in my hand. You have to do justice to it - it demanded top appreciation from a commentator - and I hope that is what I gave it. I recall Bayer Leverkusen were a team that kept coming second. But if you are going to come second then maybe a goal like that takes some of the pain away? Maybe not...