PORTO, Portugal (AFP) ‒ Chelsea won the Champions League for the second time as a Kai Havertz goal secured a tense 1-0 victory over Manchester City in Saturday’s final in Porto, shattering Pep Guardiola’s dream of lifting the trophy for the third time.
Havertz rounded Ederson to score three minutes before half-time at the Estadio do Dragao and the Chelsea players ran to celebrate with the German.
Coach Thomas Tuchel, full of energy on the touchline just like his opposite number, punched the air in celebration, and later jumped with joy on the pitch after Chelsea held on for victory in the second half after City lost distraught skipper Kevin De Bruyne to injury.
The London club finished fourth in the Premier League, a huge 19 points behind champions City, but this, remarkably, was ITS third win over Guardiola’s side in six weeks.
They ended City’s hopes of a domestic treble when they triumphed in the FA Cup semi-finals in April and delayed their title celebrations with victory in Manchester.
Now, in a final watched by a limited crowd of just over 14,000 fans who created a raucous atmosphere, they have denied City the first Champions League crown they and Guardiola so crave.
“It was an incredibly tough fight, what a fight. Today they were determined to win this. We wanted to be the stone in their shoe,” Tuchel told BT Sport.
“The effort was huge. We overcame some difficult moments and had a fantastic attitude to defending,” added Tuchel, a self-confessed fan of Guardiola.
– Abramovich’s second European Cup –
City had to wait 13 years after being taken over by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour just to get to the Champions League final.
They are now the eighth consecutive team to lose in their first appearance at this stage. The same misfortune befell Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain last year as well as Tottenham Hotspur when they were beaten by Liverpool in the last all-English final in 2019.
Chelsea have been transformed since the appointment as coach in January of Tuchel, but City were still the favorites after their third Premier League title triumph in four seasons.
Feeding off the energy of the crowd in a stadium filled to a third of its capacity — all fans required negative Covid-19 tests to gain entry — both teams played with a level of intensity rarely seen in the last year of football in empty grounds.
City pressed high but struggled to trouble Edouard Mendy in the Chelsea goal, while at the other end Timo Werner should have done better than shoot straight at Ederson in the 14th minute.
Chelsea then suffered an injury blow as an emotional Thiago Silva was forced off hurt, Andreas Christensen taking the Brazilian’s place in central defense.
Yet it was they who opened the scoring in the 42nd minute, Mason Mount’s ball splitting the City defence, allowing Havertz — their marquee 71 million-pound ($100m) signing last summer — to go around the lunging Ederson and convert into an empty net.
City now needed to break down a Chelsea defence that has been exceptional under Tuchel.
But they lost De Bruyne just before the hour mark, the Belgian taken out in a collision with Antonio Ruediger that appeared to leave him concussed.
He came off in tears, and Guardiola instead turned to Sergio Aguero for the latter stages, but there was to be no glorious send-off as a City player for the Argentine, as a Riyad Mahrez shot sailed just over in the sixth minute of injury time.
A decade on from his last European Cup triumph, there was to be no third for Guardiola. He remains one adrift of the record for the coaches with most wins in the competition, held jointly by Bob Paisley, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane.