Chelsea beat Manchester City, 1-0,capturing European soccer’s biggest prize only months after changing coaches, and beating a City team that was built for this moment.Chelsea turned a season of turmoil into the ultimate triumph as Kai Havertz’s ice-cool finish sunk Manchester City 1-0 to swipe Champions League glory in Porto.
Mason Mount’s inch-perfect assist stunned domestic double-winners City at the Estadio do Dragao, as Chelsea claimed their second Champions League title to etch boss Thomas Tuchel’s name into the Stamford Bridge annals.
Nothing less than a revolution against the Pep Guardiola hegemony in the English game in what was one of the great nights in Europe, a thrilling, relentless Champions League final in which the tide of Manchester City was turned back at the gates of their final triumph.
Pep Guardiola fielded a surprise pivotless midfield in a bid to catch out Tuchel and the Blues, but the move backfired and City paid the toughest price.
When Chelsea paid Bayer Leverkusen £70million for Havertz last summer eyebrows were raised in some quarters, but Chelsea were convinced of the 21-year-old’s pure talent. And now the classy forward has ended a testing campaign that included a battle with Covid-19 with a goal of the utmost quality – on the highest stage and at the perfect time.
There were moments of misfortune, especially a collision that saw Kevin De Bruyne go off in the second half with his eye swelling and darkening having turned blind, straight into Antonio Rudiger. It was an ugly moment that the German was booked for having seen it in time to protect himself. Yet Chelsea could point to the departure of Thiago Silva with a groin jolted out of shape when he landed awkwardly in the first half. Their team felt right in all departments and nowhere more so than when the world’s greatest defensive midfielder, N’Golo Kante, took charge.He was the game’s outstanding player, although you could also make a case for Reece James at right-back – a locked door to the recalled Raheem Sterling. Kante demonstrated what City lacked in the core of their game – a stability, a guarantee – and they looked so much better when Fernandinho arrived. It felt like Guardiola’s selection was designed to make the game into something no-one was expecting, and in a way that was what happened.
In the second half, Guardiola repented. Fernandinho,in place of Bernardo Silva, who had one of the least effective nights of his career, changed the game again. The old Brazilian general passing and fouling and passing as he saw necessary. It was desperate on a few occasions for Chelsea – a great clearance from Azpilicueta, a chance on the counter that the substitute Christian Pulisic, on for Werner, pulled just wide.
On the touchline, Tuchel sunk to his knees. By the end he would be in a frenzy through seven minutes of time added on and the effort from Mahrez. Then the game was over and so too four astonishing months in the life of Tuchel and Chelsea.
Author: Andrew Collins