Chelsea have won the Champions League for the second time, beating Manchester City 1-0 thanks to Kai Havertz’s first-half goal as Pep Guardiola’s over thinking proved costly in the all-English final.
Havertz ran onto Mason Mount’s through-ball and skipped by City goalkeeper Ederson Moraes before slotting the ball into an empty net in the 42nd minute for his maiden goal in the competition.
Chelsea added to the first European Cup they won in 2012 to become the 13th multiple winners of the world’s biggest club competition.
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Manager Thomas Tuchel, who only took over at Stamford Bridge from Frank Lampard in January, got his hands on the trophy a year after losing in the 2020 final with Paris Saint-Germain.
City’s long, often-painful and lavishly funded journey to the summit of European soccer remains incomplete and Guardiola might regret tinkering with his settled team by choosing to not start a specialist holding midfielder.
Midfield anchors Fernandinho and Rodri were on the bench as Ilkay Gundogan took the deepest role in the centre of the pitch with Kevin De Bruyne, Bernando Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling ahead of him.
It destabilised City, who were unrecognisable from the team that has largely dominated English soccer this season, winning the Premier League and the English League Cup.
Chelsea never allowed City to play their normal fluent game and could not respond as the disciplined Blues should have won by a bigger margin.
City laboured after the break searching for openings and their cause was not helped when playmaker Kevin de Bruyne went off injured on the hour mark after a clash of heads.
Chelsea survived seven minutes of stoppage time with Mahrez going agonisingly close for City before the celebrations could begin.
Thousands of Chelsea fans were in the crowd of 14,110 to see their team lift the trophy in the Dragao Stadium as the final had been moved from Istanbul with Portugal operating under less severe coronavirus restrictions.
Havertz, the Blues’ record signing, was almost lost for words after the game.
“I don’t know what to say,” the match-winner told BT Sport.
“It’s an incredible feeling. We deserve this.”
In the first half, Timo Werner spurned two great chances to open the scoring while his second-half replacement Christian Pulisic should have extended the margin.
City in contrast could not get through the solid Chelsea shape which had Jorginho and N’Golo Kante snapping in the middle of the park and even the loss of veteran defender Thiago Silva to first half injury did not disturb them.
Despite City’s abundance of creative players, their best chance of the first half came from Ederson’s long ball over the defence but Raheem Sterling’s clever attempt was foiled by Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy.
Record scorer Sergio Aguero was thrown on with 14 minutes remaining in his last game for City but was left in tears at the final whistle.
© AAP 2021