The Estadio do Dragao in Porto was set for the third all-English finals in the history of the UEFA Champions League. Manchester City came into their first UEFA Champions League final looking to beat Chelsea. They conquered PSG, Dortmund, and Borussia Monchengladbach to get here after qualifying from a group consisting of Marseille, Olympiacos, and FC Porto. City’s boss Pep Guardiola had been here twice and earning the victory on both occasions. The Catalan manager was aching to touch the trophy again after 10 years. It was not to be as Chelsea & Thomas Tuchel had other ideas.
The blues have been here before, in 2008 (heartbreak) & 2012 (victory). Their manager Thomas Tuchel was a runner-up last year. The German manager said he wanted to make Chelsea a team that other teams would be scared of and in four months, he has made this Chelsea side what we wanted. This was especially true for Guardiola and City. Chelsea beat City in the English Premier League and the FA Cup Semi-final.
The big fear was Pep Guardiola overthinking his lineup and he did. He brought in the rusty Raheem Sterling and fielded Ilkay Gundogan as the holding midfielder. Sterling was easily pocketed by Reece James and City did not have any solidity in midfield until pep brought Fernandinho on in the second half, by then there was too much to do
Timo Werner had two early chances to open the scoring but squandered them and at the other end, Antonio “hustle” Rudiger put in a fantastic block to halt a Phil Foden shot. Ederson thumped one of his trademark long balls for Sterling but a combination of Reece James and Edouard Mendy prevented anything from materializing. Kyle Walker got the best of Ben Chilwell and put in a low cross but nobody could get it in. N’golo Kante was a colossus in the middle, even earning praise from the Manchester City social media team and he had a great chance to head a good cross in. The French midfielder missed the target but he is too adorable to fault.
Timo Werner finishes horribly (at least this season), but there is a reason he keeps starting games. His left-wing channel run opened the space for Kai Havertz who ran through a non-existent City defense, rounded Ederson, and tapped in the only goal of the game. 0-1 Chelsea lead. What a way to repay the hefty price that Chelsea paid for him! Half-time.
The Citizens came out the hungrier and better side after the break but it was much ado about nothing as Chelsea’s compact back of five held firm to secure the club’s second UEFA Champions League title.
It completes a fantastic turnaround for Chelsea that started when Tuchel took over. Tuchel and Thiago Silva got their redemption after last season’s heartbreak. N’golo Kante put on a “masterclass in retrieving the ball” as Rio Ferdinand puts it and completes football in 3 years (World Cup, EPL, Europa League, FA Cup, and now the big ears). Edouard Mendy was the first African goalkeeper to mind the post in a UCL final and he kept a clean sheet too. 11 games, 8 clean sheets, and 4 goals conceded. Incredible! Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Andreas Christensen, Billy Gilmour, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Tino Anjorin all passed through Cobham and today they won the UEFA Champions League. It is the stuff dreams are made of. Congratulations to Chelsea!! The champions of Europe!!
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