THE image that remains is the wrong one, writes Eamon Dunphy.
Cristiano Ronaldo, shirtless and bellowing into the night sky, striking a pose to show off his abs, or whatever you call them.
Already, that image has been blazed over countless newspapers and websites worldwide since Saturday night.
But it needs context. Real Madrid already led 3-1. They were just seconds on the clock and Atletico were demoralised, heads down, already beaten.
Ronaldo’s goal from the penalty spot was meaningless.
He’d done nothing of note over the previous two hours.
But his celebration sent out a message to the world — I’m the man, I delivered La Decima.
Ronaldo is a truly great player, and one who deserves all the plaudits he’s received in recent times.
But the streak of vanity and calculation in his character is off-putting.
This was a great night for his club, Real Madrid, but he made it about Cristiano Ronaldo, the brand.
Ronaldo is a creature of 21st century football.
He knew that his shirtless, posing celebration would become the enduring image of the 2014 Champions League final.
Lately, I’ve been reading a fascinating book by Diego Torres on Jose Mourinho’s time at the Bernabeu.
In it is very interesting stuff about Ronaldo and his agent Jorge
Mendes and the lengths they go to enhance his image and public profile.
I believe we saw a vivid example of this at the Stadium of Light.
The preening superstar stank the place out, but he knows how to strike a pose, I’ll give him that.
It was Angel Di Maria who was the man for Real, not Ronaldo.
Atletico will find it hard to recover from this defeat.
It was a huge mistake by Diego Simeone to play Diego Costa.
You simply don’t recover from a torn hamstring in the space of a week.
Costa was gone from the pitch after just nine minutes. There was no way he was fit to start the game.
It was a bad move by Simeone, a gamble he shouldn’t have taken.
Atletico were left in a situation where they couldn’t make a sub when the game was in the balance.
They were out on their feet, and that was down to Simeone’s gamble.
Atletico did defend really well.
They pressed and closed Real down and did a lot of things right.
But they found it very hard to keep possession of the ball.
That meant they were under nearly constant pressure.
Atletico kept defending deeper and deeper, which just invited Real on to them.
Gareth Bale has had a remarkable first season in Spain.
The Welshman scored the winner in the Copa del Rey final with a sensational goal.
And he scored the decisive goal in Lisbon on Saturday night.
It wasn’t as easy as it looked, either.
Di Maria did wonderfully well to open up the Atletico defence but Bale still had to finish to the net.
He’d missed some very scoreable chances earlier so showed great character to do the business.
With such a hefty price-tag, no pre-season training of note and the difficulties involved in moving from English football to Spain, Bale has shown he has the right stuff.
He will only get better.
Real, though, should not be celebrated as a great team.
Without Xabi Alonso in midfield, their play often lacked intelligence and drive.
You only realise how important Alonso is to them when he
Sergio Ramos so often comes to the fore when he’s really needed.
He has great spirit and character and scores a lot of important goals.
Ramos can be hard to warm to but he does the business for his team time and again.
His goal came from a truly wonderful header, though Atletico should have had a man on the post.
What Simeone has done with Atletico is up there with any manager in the modern era.
But he lost the plot when racing on to the pitch to confront Real players.
Yet I do have sympathy for him.
You have to understand the context of Spanish football.
Other clubs feel Real and Barcelona get special treatment. The TV money is completely geared towards them.
Many in Spain feel they always get the penalty decisions, or the few extra minutes of injury time if they’re chasing a goal.
I didn’t think there should have been five minutes of injury time in Lisbon.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Simeone felt the same and his frustration boiled over. I can understand why he did it, but can’t excuse it.
No manager should ever run on to the pitch like that.
So where does Simeone go from here?
We’ve seen with the likes of Porto and Borussia Dortmund that big clubs come in and cherry-pick their best players, leaving them decimated.
And Atletico have always been a selling club.
They have very good defenders and all of the big clubs around Europe are looking for defenders.
Their squad could be ripped to pieces. Already, the word is that Costa is certain to join Chelsea.
Simeone would have been the right fit for Manchester United but they decided to go Dutch.
I could see the Argentine ending up with one of the Milan clubs or Juventus.
He spent eight years as a player in Serie A so he knows the country well.
One thing’s for sure, we haven’t heard the last of him.