Manchester City has climbed the European football throne after several unsuccessful attempts. Pep Guardiola’s team and international Ilkay Gündogan won the Champions League final in Istanbul against outsiders Inter Milan 1-0 (0-0) thanks to Rodri’s goal (68th minute). The English champions and FA Cup winners made the treble perfect in an intense final – Manchester United last managed that in England in 1999.
For the owners from Abu Dhabi, the immense investments paid off over the years for the first time in the premier class. The success is undoubtedly deserved in terms of sport: The Cityzens remained unbeaten throughout the European Cup season, defeated top clubs FC Bayern Munich and Real Madrid on the way to Istanbul and did not let the early injury of star player Kevin De Bruyne get them down in the final .
Gündogan, who was very committed in the final, finally fulfilled his long-cherished dream of a handle pot in his third final. His DFB teammate Robin Gosens, who came on as a substitute at Inter in the 76th minute, travels to the national team without the big title. Shortly before the end, the winger created a huge but ultimately wasted chance for Romelu Lukaku (88th).
For Guardiola it was the third Champions League triumph after two titles with FC Barcelona – and a personal satisfaction. After his failed attempts with Bayern and for years with Man City, doubts arose about his coaching quality in big games. But this time he decided not to experiment and trusted his well-rehearsed star ensemble.
The Spaniard, this time smart in a black jacket, and his opponent Simone Inzaghi gesticulated energetically on the sidelines from the first minute, both loudly shouting instructions onto the pitch. Guardiola didn’t seem at all satisfied in the first half hour, his exceptional team had a lot more trouble than was generally expected.
Although Bernardo Silva came in the penalty area with his left foot for the first promising regular finish (6th). However, Inter did not withdraw at all, but repeatedly played dangerously close to the penalty area of Manchester goalkeeper Ederson, who seemed uncertain at the beginning, especially via the left side of Federico Dimarco. In the Milan storm, the now 37-year-old former Wolfsburg Bundesliga champion Edin Dzeko radiated well-known robustness until he was substituted after just under an hour.
Numerous guests of honor watched the final spectacle from the stands, above all the Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan alongside Uefa President Aleksander Ceferin. Both teams watched each other with great intensity, in the city midfield captain Gündogan ordered the game calmly. The Belgian quickly forwarded his deposit to De Bruyne to Erling Haaland. The former Dortmund player, who was practically unassailable as the competition’s top scorer even before the game, was denied by Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana (27′).
Just a few minutes later, Guardiola was rubbing his shaved hair in concern when De Bruyne had to be treated on the thigh on the pitch (30′). In the 36th minute, the star player left the pitch, visibly dejected – and bitter memories of the city were awakened. Two years ago in the final against Chelsea (0-1), the injury-related substitution of De Bruyne after an hour was the final turning point in favor of the Londoners. Without the exceptional player, City could no longer equalize.
On Saturday night, the English champions, now with Phil Foden, were semi-recovered before the break. But there was little to see of the almost usual dominance – for example from the quarter-finals against Bayern. Former Dortmund player Manuel Akanji tried a long-range shot, which also says something about the focused Inter-defense (45.1).
Shortly after the break, Gündogan was also down after a foul by former Bundesliga player Hakan Calhanoglu, but the 32-year-old was able to continue playing. Inter continued to have a remarkably good grip on the city offensive during the phase. However, the Polish referee Szymon Marciniak also had to intervene more often to get the increasing toughness of both teams under control.
A misunderstanding in the City defense almost gave Inter the lead through Lautaro Martínez, but Ederson was careful (59′). The scene that saw Guardiola drop to his knees acted as a wake-up call to the Cityzens, who were now getting stronger. Rodri hit the inside with a well-considered shot from the edge of the box, and thousands of Man City fans cheered. Just over two minutes later, Dimarco showed that nothing was decided with his header into the crossbar (70′). Also because Foden missed a huge chance on the other side (76th).