For the second time since 2012 and with a fully deserved victory, Chelsea won the Champions League over Manchester City in an all-Premier League confrontation in Porto.
Thomas Tuchel got the better of his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola for the third time since succeeding sacked Frank Lampard in January to bring European club football’s biggest prize back to Stamford Bridge for the first time since 2012.
Kai Havertz, blossoming after a slow start to his Chelsea career, got the winner three minutes before half-time when he collected a defence-splitting pass from Mason Mount to round City goalkeeper Ederson and score.
It leaves City still searching for the Champions League, the trophy that has always eluded them, and Guardiola cannot escape scrutiny for his part in this defeat after taking a tactical gamble which backfired.
Guardiola surprisingly decided against utilising either Rodri or Fernandinho as a defensive midfielder, leaving City with a muddled game plan that reduced their effectiveness and rarely presented Chelsea with any problems.
Chelsea had the better opportunities throughout, Timo Werner wasting two good chances before Havertz struck and substitute Christian Pulisic squandering another in the second half.
City, who lost Kevin De Bruyne to injury midway through the second half, threw on Sergio Aguero for his final appearance but there was no fairytale ending for the club’s greatest goalscorer as Chelsea closed out the win.
And for Tuchel it was elation after the disappointment of losing last year’s final as manager of Paris St-Germain.
Tuchel trumps Guardiola again
Tuchel made it three out of three against Guardiola by producing a fiercely disciplined, positive Chelsea performance that has brought a season that was shrouded in uncertainty to the most glorious conclusion.
The German has transformed Chelsea since his arrival in January, making significant changes by restoring the towering Antonio Rudiger in central defence and playing the magnificent man-of-the-match N’golo Kante in the position in which he is quite simply a world-class operator.
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Kante controlled everything from his position in midfield, the complete player giving a breathtaking performance.
Chelsea needed to be defensively perfect but this was no smash-and-grab result. It was a front-foot display to take the initiative away from City in the first half.
They then held firm in the second with very few anxious moments.
They even survived the first-half loss of the experienced Thiago Silva to injury and carried on in the same measured, committed fashion.
It is a huge personal triumph for Tuchel, who already had victories against Guardiola in the FA Cup semi-final and in the Premier League at Etihad Stadium going in to this game.
And the confidence and self-belief those victories brought was in evidence as Chelsea played with a fearless attitude that never allowed City to settle and sparked wild scenes of celebration among players, staff and the fans inside Porto’s Estadio do Dragao.
The scale of Tuchel’s achievement is that this night was barely imaginable when he arrived in January but now Chelsea are champions of Europe for a second time.
Guardiola’s gamble fails as Man City flounder:
City’s march to their first Champions League final was accompanied by a sense of destiny – that their years of suffering in Europe’s elite tournament were about to end, especially after the manner in which they overcame Paris St-Germain in the semi-final.
Sadly for Guardiola’s side, the agony will go on after a final in which the Premier League champions failed miserably to do themselves justice and their Spanish manager played a part in their downfall as he tried to join Bob Paisley, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane in the select group to win this tournament three times.
Eyebrows were raised when he decided against utilising either of his outstanding holding midfield men Rodri and Fernandinho in favour of an all-out attacking line-up.
It produced a confused, muddled performance with the likes of Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin de Bruyne seemingly uncertain of their roles.
And with Raheem Sterling having a disappointing night on the left flank as he was dominated by Reece James before being substituted, City rarely carried the threat that has made them the prime force in the Premier League this season.
And there was sadness as Aguero was a loser on his final appearance for the club after a glittering career. Guardiola turned to City’s greatest goalscorer late on but Chelsea were not to be moved or play their part in someone else’s happy ending.
City have still had a season of success winning the title and the League Cup. This is still a very bitter pill for Guardiola and his team to swallow but they can tell no hard luck stories about this game.
Chelsea join exclusive club – the stats
Chelsea are the third English side to win the Champions League on two occasions, after Liverpool (2004-05 and 2018-19) and Manchester United (1998-99 and 2007-08).
Chelsea have lifted the trophy in six of their seven major European finals in their history – with this their fourth European success in the Roman Abramovich era alone (Champions League in 2020-21 and 2011-12, Europa League in 2012-13 and 2018-19).
Guardiola has lost more matches against Chelsea in all competitions than against any other club (eight), losing his last three in a row against the Blues. Indeed, the only other sides that he has lost three in a row against in his managerial career are Real Madrid (2012-14) and Liverpool (2018).
Tuchel is the third different German manager to win the Champions League in the last three seasons (Jurgen Klopp 2019, Hans Flick 2020) – it is the first time the European Cup/Champions League has been won in three consecutive years by three different managers of the same nationality since 1979-80 to 1981-82 (Brian Clough, Bob Paisley, Tony Barton).
Tuchel became just the second manager to record three consecutive wins in all competitions against Guardiola (excluding Barcelona B), after fellow German Klopp did so in 2018 with Liverpool.
City became the ninth different English team to reach a European Cup/Champions League final, at least three more than any other nation (Germany and Italy, six) – although only one of the last 11 teams competing in their first final have won (Borussia Dortmund v Juventus in 1997).
Guardiola has lost his first cup final as City manager, with this loss only his second major cup final defeat of his managerial career (along with Copa del Rey in 2010-11).
Following Havertz’s goal in the 42nd minute neither Manchester City or Chelsea managed to land a single shot on target during the rest of the match.
Chelsea’s Havertz scored his first Champions League goal and became the first player to score his first goal in the competition in the final since Ilkay Gundogan in 2013. Indeed, Havertz became the youngest German player to score in a Champions League final since Borussia Dortmund’s Lars Ricken in 1997 (20 years 322 days v Juventus).
Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy kept nine clean sheets in 12 games in this season’s Champions League – no keeper has ever kept more in a single campaign in the competition (level with Santiago Canizares for Valencia in 2000-01 and Keylor Navas for Real Madrid in 2015-16).
Mendy’s nine clean sheets for Chelsea in the Champions League this season is the most ever by a goalkeeper in their maiden campaign in the competition.
Chelsea’s Mason Mount became the first English player to provide a Champions League final assist since Wes Brown in 2008 for Manchester United against Chelsea.