Champions League glory once again for Chelsea, nine years after their first title and just 123 days after manager Thomas Tuchel arrived at the club.
Even more misery in the world’s biggest club competition for City and Guardiola, their genius manager whose over-thinking has proven costly once again.
German striker Kai Havertz’s goal in the 42nd minute earned Chelsea a surprisingly comfortable 1-0 win at Porto in the all-English Champions League third final on Saturday.
That the last game of a club season heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic was settled by a goal from Havertz felt appropriate, given that he suffered a lot after contracting the disease in the middle of his first year at the club. after signing for nearly $ 100 million.
He recovered to play a big part in Chelsea’s season-ending, and showed why the club made him the centerpiece of their $ 300million spending spree last offseason in the way he ran. on a deep ball by Mason Mount, goalkeeper Ederson Moraes rounded and rolled the ball into an empty net.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Havertz said. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. “
As for his German compatriot Tuchel, he only had one season to wait to overcome the disappointment of losing the 2020 final at the head of Paris Saint-Germain. Fired by PSG in December, he was hired by Chelsea a month later to resurrect a side that had lost their way – and dropped to ninth in the Premier League – and awarded a Champions League title four months more late.
It was a tactical duel between Tuchel and Guardiola, two of the most innovative coaches in the world, and there was clearly a winner.
Guardiola will surely regret having tinkered with a well-established side that propelled City to their first Champions League final and to the brink of another hat-trick, having won the Premier League and the English League Cup.
Starting without a striker was expected – Guardiola preferred this in Champions League knockout matches – but doing without a specialist midfielder holding on to Fernandinho or Rodri was a major surprise and destabilized City.
The city has lost its renowned form and composure. Seeking to win the Champions League for the third time as a coach and first since 2011, Guardiola was guilty of overthinking his tactics again in a big game – as he was for quarterback eliminations. City final at the hands of Lyon, Tottenham and Liverpool in the past. three years.
“I did what I thought was the best decision,” Guardiola said.
It was a decision that backfired on him, however. Ilkay Gundogan, City’s top scorer this season and a revelation in his role as an attacking midfielder, ended up becoming the midfield presenter and he struggled to protect City’s defense.
Indeed, for Chelsea’s goal, Mount had so much time and space to make a pass from inside his own half through the center of City’s defense – which was opened by the decoy run from Timo Werner – so Havertz can run.
Thus, City’s long, often painful and richly funded journey to the top of European football remains incomplete. The sight of his star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne coming off the field in the 60th minute, slightly wobbly and clearly concussed after a heads-up clash with Antonio Rudiger, only added to the pain and made a comeback yet again more unlikely.
Sergio Aguero came on in the 76th minute for his last appearance after 10 trophy-filled years at City, but the Argentina striker couldn’t produce late heroism this time around.
City players collapsed to the ground at the final whistle as Rudiger sprinted the length of the pitch to celebrate with the nearly 6,000 Chelsea fans who made up the 14,110 spectators at the Estadio do Dragao, a venue replacement for the title match that was originally scheduled to take place in Turkey.
Tuchel played with his daughters on the pitch. Christian Pulisic, who came on as a second-half substitute to become the first American player to make a Champions League final, posed with the trophy in an American sweatshirt. Mount burst into tears when he saw his father in the stands,
“What a Man City team is – you saw what they did in the Premier League,” Mount said. “It was such a tough game. We scored a goal and defended the whole game well. “
City never had the much-needed control Guardiola could have easily conceded more on the counterattack.
Werner, who was working well behind City full-backs, had already wasted two fine chances before goal, first by mistaking Havertz’s cut, then obediently shooting Ederson at close range.
In the second half, Pulisic ran on Havertz’s pass but slipped a shot just off the post.
That didn’t stop Chelsea from becoming the 13th multiple European champion, adding to their 2012 title.
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