Sickening moment mars Champions League final as Chelsea triumph

Chelsea left Manchester City bruised and beaten with a stunning 1-0 triumph in the UEFA Champions League final on Sunday morning.

Kai Havertz scored the only goal just before halftime — his first ever goal in the Champions League — and the Blues held on in a desperate second half in Porto to secure their second Champions League title.

“I don’t know what to say, it’s an incredible feeling. We deserved it and now we celebrate,” Havertz said. “I waited a long time (to score in the Champions League) and now I’ve done it.”

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 defence.

Yet it was they who opened the scoring in the 42nd minute, Mason Mount’s ball splitting the City defence with John Stones out of position, allowing Havertz — their marquee $100 million signing last summer — to go around the lunging Ederson and convert into an empty net.

Ederson is left stranded. (Photo by SUSANA VERA / POOL / AFP)Source:AFP

Kai Havertz celebrates. (Photo by Jose Coelho / POOL / AFP)Source:AFP

City now needed to break down a Chelsea defence that has been exceptional since coach Thomas Tuchel came in.

But they lost De Bruyne just before the hour mark, the brilliant Belgian taken out in a collision with Antonio Ruediger that appeared to leave him concussed.

The Belgium international received lengthy treatment after running into the shoulder of the Chelsea defender, with Gabriel Jesus brought on for a tearful and dazed De Bruyne.

Rudiger was booked for the clash.

Guardiola turned to Sergio Aguero for the latter stages, but there was to be no glorious send-off as a City player for the Argentine, even if a Riyad Mahrez shot sailed just over in the sixth minute of injury time.

There was also no third European Cup for Guardiola, who 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.

The London club may have finished fourth in the Premier League, a huge 19 points behind the champions City, but this, remarkably, was their third win over Guardiola’s side in six weeks.

They shattered City’s hopes of a domestic treble when they triumphed in the FA Cup semi-finals in April and then 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.

Antonio Ruediger (right) and Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne react in pain after a collision. (Photo by SUSANA VERA / POOL / AFP)Source:AFP

Kevin De Bruyne receives medical assistance. (Photo by David Ramos / POOL / AFP)Source:AFP

De Bruyne had a black eye and was crying. (Photo by MICHAEL STEELE / POOL / AFP)Source:AFP

City have had to wait 13 years since being taken over by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour just to get to the Champions League final.

They are now the seventh 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 also lost when they first got to the final, succumbing on penalties against Manchester United in Moscow in 2008.

They overcame the final hurdle by beating Bayern Munich, also in a shoot-out, in 2012 and now they have their second European Cup to move level with Juventus, Benfica and Porto as well as another English side, Nottingham Forest.

Their transformation into one of Europe’s super clubs has been down to the riches of Roman Abramovich, their Russian oligarch owner who was in attendance at the game in Portugal.

Chelsea have been transformed since the appointment as coach in January of Tuchel, but City were still the favourites off the back of their third Premier League title triumph in four seasons.

Feeding off the energy of the crowd in a stadium that Portuguese authorities had allowed to be 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.

— with AFP

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