Updated: Jun 1, 2021
Chelsea crowned as the Kings of Europe again following a special night in Portugal.
After coming off the back of an unpredictable, rollercoaster season – Saturday evening marked the most anticipated fixture in club football – the Champions League final.
It was a special night for British football, with the game being the third ever all-English final in the competition. The first arrived in 2008, when Chelsea dramatically lost on penalties to Manchester United in Moscow.
Since then, the Blues went on to win the competition for the first ever time in 2012, overcoming Bayern Munich on penalties at the Allianz Arena. However, for Manchester City, their clash with the Blues was the first ever Champions League final.
That being said, the pressure was on Pep Guardiola’s side, who were looking to put the cherry on top of what has been a remarkable season. The Citizens have already picked up two pieces of silverware within the campaign, as they powered past Spurs in the Carabao Cup whilst also being crowned the Premier Leaguewinners.
Having often being accused of ‘overthinking’ the big games, Guardiola had a point to prove in his first European final in ten years. Since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival, Chelsea have been rejuvenated and looked a force to overcome. The German has beaten Guardiola on both occasions that they’ve met this season – which may just play on the minds of both coaches.
The Spaniard made one change to the team that tasted victory against Paris Saint-Germain – as Raheem Sterling replaced Fernandinho in the starting eleven.
Fortunately for Tuchel, the German was boosted with a full squad of healthy players to choose from. Both Tuchel and Thiago Silva were on the receiving end of a defeat in last year’s final against Bayern Munich, so looked to set the record straight in Porto.
As the opening whistle blew, all eyes were on the Estádio do Dragão. Both Chelsea and Manchester City had reached the final hurdle of their seasons and were 90 minutes away from lifting biggest prize in European football. Manchester City were ‘all-out attack’ with their formation and started the game aggressive, hungry and determined in the hopes of securing their first ever Champions League.
There was an early scare for the Blues as Raheem Sterling latched on to a dangerous long ball from Ederson. However, Reece James did brilliantly to track back and shut down his fellow England international.
Minutes later, there was a chance at the other end for Timo Werner, who entirely missed the ball after Kai Havertz cut the ball back for his fellow countryman.
Seconds later, City counter attacked through the pace of Sterling. Having worked himself into a dangerous position, the winger looked to find Riyad Mahrez at the back post for an easy tap-in, but a phenomenal clearance from Ben Chilwell kept the game goalless.
On the 13th minute, there was another chance for Timo Werner. The German picked up the ball in a good position inside the penalty area, yet saw his stumbled effort easily saved by Ederson. The striker had another chance just seconds later, but saw his deflected effort hit the wrong side of the outer netting.
On the 26th minute, there was a chance for Phil Foden, who was free inside the penally area with just Mendy to beat. The 21-year-old looked destine to score, but a crucial sliding block from Antonio Rüdiger prevented the Blues from going a goal down into Porto.
Despite City’s attacking set up, it was Chelsea who were having the chances towards the end of the first half. The Blues looked dangerous on the break and almost had a chance through Kai Havertz, who lost out to Oleksandr Zinchenko with a well-timed challenge.
On the 39th minute, Chelsea received as blow as Thiago Silva could no longer continue through injury – causing the Brazilian to be replaced by Andreas Christensen.
It was going to take a moment of brilliance to break the deadlock, which is exactly what happened on the 42nd minute.
A stunning pass from Mason Mount found the run of Kai Havertz – who was suddenly through on goal with just Ederson to beat. The German did brilliantly to push the ball beyond the goalkeeper, before passing the ball into an empty the net.
The clubs record signing did brilliantly to keep his cool and convert his first ever Champions League goal. Going into the break, it was Chelsea who carried a well-deserved lead.
The Blues were now just 45 minutes away from lifting the trophy.
After what was a disappointing first half, Manchester City now had it all to do against a Chelsea side that have conceded just 4 goals in the competition.
On the 55th minute, a clash between Antonio Rüdiger and Kevin De Bruyne left the Belgian worst for wear – forcing the midfielder to leave the pitch in tears. The Manchester City star was replaced by Gabriel Jesus, who had just over 30 minutes left to make his mark in Porto.
Just seconds after coming on, Guadriola’s side were appealing for a penalty after Sterling’s shot was blocked by Reece James. However, the replays showed that the ball struck the defenders chest in what was a heart in mouth moment for Chelsea fans worldwide.
On the 67th minute, a swift move from City almost resulted in an easy tap-in for top scorer Gündogan at the back post. However, a crucial interception from Blues skipper César Azpilicueta kept the Chelsea lead alive.
Just minutes later, it looked as if Chelsea had found a second as substitute Christian Pulisic lofted the ball over Ederson. The American international instead saw his shot bounce wide, leaving Thomas Tuchel with his head in his hands.
Guardiola’s side looked to make Chelsea pay, with notable chances later falling for Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden. The Blues was defending for their lives, putting their bodies on the line and making sure that there was no chance of a Manchester City equaliser.
City’s attacks rolled on into the dying minutes of added time. With just a minute spare, Riyad Mahrez thought he found an equaliser as his right footed half-volley looking set to sail into the top corner. Édouard Mendy was flat footed and beaten, but the Algerian’s effort fractionally missed out as the ball floated inches over the crossbar.
With seconds remaining, it seemed as if that was the chance for City to find their elusive equaliser. With the game eventually reaching the 97th minute, the referee blew the final whistle to an eruption of emotion from the Chelsea fans and players.
It was Chelsea’s night in Porto, with the biggest prize in club football heading back to SW6 once again.
After the whistle:
The game lived up to all expectations – leaving fans on their edge of their seats until the very final whistle. Credit must be given to Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea, who did a phenomenal job in turning their season around and being crowned the Champions of Europe.
A risk was taken by Pep Guardiola, who dropped the likes of Fernandinho and Rodri in his attack-minded team selection. Ultimately, Chelsea played the game perfectly. The Blues defended as if their lives were on the line and counter attacked their opponents with pace and power.
It seems as if Thomas Tuchel might just have Pep Guardiola’s number, having now beaten the Spaniard in all three of their meetings this season. Having now secured the Champions League alongside a top four finish in the Premier League, the pain endured from the FA Cup final is likely to all be forgotten about – with Chelsea being the crowned the Kings of Europe once again.
In what has been a season saturated with twists and turns, it will definitely be a season that Chelsea fans will never forget.
Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea.
- Havertz (42’).
BBC Sports player of the match:
N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea).
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko; Silva (64’), Gündogan, Foden; Mahrez, De Bruyne © (60’), Sterling (77’).
- Subs: Jesus (60’), Fernandinho (64’), Agüero (77’).
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta ©, Silva (39’), Rüdiger; James, Kanté, Jorginho, Chilwell; Havertz, Mount (80’); Werner (66’).
- Subs: Christensen (39’), Pulisic (66’), Kovačić (80’).
Antonio Migue Mateu Lahoz.
Manchester City (60%) vs Chelsea (40%).
Manchester City (7) vs Chelsea (8).
Shots on target:
Manchester City (1) vs Chelsea (2).
Manchester City (3) vs Chelsea (1).
Manchester City (14) vs Chelsea (13).
- (credit | BBC Sport).
- (credit | BT Sport).
Written by Ryan Bellenie (@BellenieSport).