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Real Madrid twist the knife again to give Atlético the cruellest of nights | Sid Lowe

European Cup finals can hardly have treated Atlético any more cruelly, and the feeling is compounded by the fact that Real consider this trophy to be their own

So close yet so far. Not once, not twice, but three times. At the end of an extraordinary night in Milan, there were tears at both ends of San Siro, where players and supporters were exhausted, but the emotions could hardly have been more different. The European Cup has been the making of Real Madrid, 11-times winners, and the breaking of Atlético Madrid, the knife slipped in once more. Slipped in and then twisted.

At the end, there was applause from Atlético’s fans and no reproach at all. Not for their players, at least, whose eyes were lost in tears and they stood motionless staring into space, assault by disbelief. There might be reproach for this competition, though, so cruelly has it treated them. And yet they will return next season; that is what they do. After the 2014 final in Lisbon, the captain, Gabi Fernández – superb here – gathered the players together and told them they would be back. Should they do it yet again, it would be an extraordinary portrait of an extraordinary team.

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