The recent Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool saw many stories doing the rounds after Los Blancos held aloft the trophy. One that didn’t really register was that of the goal scorer Vinicius Junior; the young Brazilian joined an elite list of the youngest players to score in a Champions League final. Here we look at each of the youngest five to notch in the showpiece game.
Number 5. Vinicius Junior
Age: 21 years, 320 days
Final: 2021/22, Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool
Kicking off our list of the youngest players to score in a Champions League final is the man who we’ve already mentioned – Vinicius Junior. The Brazilian attacker had already enjoyed his best season in a Real Madrid shirt as he weighed in with 30 goal contributions in 35 La Liga games as Madrid won the league title but his final exploits are what have ensured his place in history.
Prior to the game, Vinicius versus Trent Alexander-Arnold was labelled as a key match up. As it turned out, that battle proved to be the key one. Real spent a long time on the ropes in the game with Thibaut Courtois getting named man of the match; then in minute 59, Federico Valverde hit a cross-shot from the right and Vinicius stole in behind TAA to bag the only goal of the game.
Number 4. Marco Asensio
Age: 21 years, 133 days
Final: 2016/17, Real Madrid 4-1 Juventus
Next up we have another Real Madrid Champions League win and another Real youngster that carved his name into the history books as one of the youngest players to score in a Champions League final; this time it was Marco Asensio. Like this season, they’d already won their domestic title but what made this game extra special was that they were gunning for not only a double but back to back Champions League titles; no team had achieved such a feat since the renaming of the European Cup.
As for the game itself, Cristiano Ronaldo was the one running the show. He first opened the scoring with a composed finish before a stunning bicycle kick from Mario Mandzukic levelled. Casemiro restored the lead on 61 with CR7 getting his brace a few minutes later. Fast forward to the 82nd minute and Asensio was introduced to the action with the score at 3-1. In the last minute of the game, he swept in from six yards after a Marcelo cut back.
Number 3. Lars Ricken
Age: 20 years, 322 days
Final: 1996/97, Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Juventus
We turn our attention away from Real Madrid now and step back in time to 1997. Dortmund had endured a poor season in the Bundesliga coming third with Ricken scoring just two goals whilst Juventus
,who were holders of the Champions League, had won Serie A. Those domestic standings counted for zilch when the final rolled around though.
Karl-Heinz Riedle had put Dortmund two goals up inside 35 minutes before legendary striker Alessandro Del Piero halved the deficit with 25 minutes left to play. Ottmar Hitzfeld responded by being on Ricken and five minutes later he bagged from all of 30 yards. That made the score 3-1 and ensured a much easier finish to the game for Dortmund; it also saw Ricken become the quickest substitute scorer in the Champions League final.
Number 2. Carlos Alberto
Age: 19 years, 167 days
Final: 2003/04 Porto 3-0 Monaco
Carlos Alberto is probably the least well known of all the names on this list but he’s one that might bust a myth too. Jose Mourinho’s Champions League win with Porto was one of – if not the – best achievements in the completions history. Well, whilst some pedal the ‘Mourinho hates youth’ agenda, it was actually a teenage Alberto who scored the opening goal for Porto.
The Portuguese side enjoyed a magical run to the final, most famously beating Man United. In the final, there was little in the early exchanges with Monaco arguably shading things. After 39 minutes though an instinctive volley from Alberto – who was playing his first season in Europe – gave Porto the lead. As you know, when Mourinho’s teams get a lead, it’s a long way back. So it proved here.
Number 1. Patrick Kluivert
Age: 18 years, 327 days
Final: 1994/95, Ajax 1-0 AC Milan
The youngest scorer in Champions League history sees us go all the way back to 1995, which was just the third season the competition was played under the title of ‘the Champions League’. On this occasion, Patrick Kluivert – best known for his time at Barcelona – was the man to score. It was also the last time that Ajax lifted the trophy having previously won it three times on the spin in the early seventies.
Ajax and Milan, who contested the final, were familiar foes during the season with the two both starting out their campaigns in Group D. Ajax came out on top then and the final was no different – albeit it was a tense affair. For so long the game had little in it with neither keeper barely troubled. On 70 minutes, a fresh faced 18-year-old, who had just scored 18 league goals in his Eredivisie debut season, entered the fray for Finnish striker Jari Litmanen. With five minutes of normal time remaining, he showed great strength before toe-poking home the winner.
There you have it, the youngest players to score in a Champions League final.