Coming into the Champions League final, Manchester City were the favourites to clinch the title as they had already claimed the English Premier League and League Cup in style. However, Thomas Tuchel had other plans, as Chelsea took the trophy home with a very impressive performance when mattered in Porto.
City had to wait 13 years after being taken over by Abu Dhabi United Group’s Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to reach their first Champions League final. And their fans had already planned the celebrations, but Chelsea spoilt their party with a 1-0 win.
Chelsea had been in poor form over the past few weeks, but Thomas Tuchel had got the better of Pep Guardiola twice already this season, which gave them a huge boost of confidence going into the final.
One of the main aspects for Chelsea to win the final was how tight and organised their defence was. City were always looking decent throughout their attacking phase, but Chelsea made important blocks and interceptions which halted most of the attacks. Even after losing veteran Thiago Silva on the half-hour mark, Chelsea still didn’t look off balance and they were confident throughout the game as they had been impressive throughout the knockout stages where they had only conceded two goals.
A first-half goal from summer signing Kai Havertz, the most expensive player in Chelsea’s history, was enough to earn Tuchel’s side victory in front of 16,500 fans at Porto’s Estadio Dragao in Portugal. City received a second blow when Belgian Kevin De Bruyne was forced off in the 59th minute with a fractured cheek after a nasty clash with Antonio Rudiger.
The biggest advantage for Tuchel was that N’Golo Kante was declared fit for the final, as he has been Chelsea’s go-to man throughout the campaign. He had won the man of the match awards against most opposition earlier in the tournament and also won it in the final through an inspiring performance. He was everywhere for the Blues, breaking up attacks and dictating play in the middle of the pitch and he was a significant reason why City were limited to just one shot on target by Riyad Mahrez, but it was not enough to send the contest beyond 90 minutes and it would have been harsh on Chelsea and the heroic likes of Kante.
Guardiola’s side went through the entire edition of the Champions League unbeaten this season, only to fall at the final stage against familiar opponents they play often.
It was not the ending the departing Sergio Aguero wanted as he was unable to repeat his late heroics that saw City clinch their first Premier League title in 2012. Manchester City have won the Premier League title four times in the past decade — and three times under Guardiola including the one this season — but the quest to win the biggest prize in European football goes on.