If you are Thomas Tuchel, your second successive trip to Portugal for a European final has surely been worth it.
On 23rd August of last year, the German found himself on the losing side as the Manager of Paris Saint Germain, when the French powerhouse was humbled 1-0 by Germany’s might, Bayern Munich.
Not a happy space to be in!
Well, as they say life comes a full circle and it certainly did for Tuchel in the same country last night as his Chelsea got the better of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City 1-0. Deservedly so!
Alas, not so much for Pep and his men who were more than up for a treble this season. Having already conquered The Premier League and The Carabao Cup, The Sky Blues were looking for their maiden European title to add the much-deserved sheen on their fast filling trophy cabinet.
Truth be told, my heart goes out to Manchester as the city in a matter of days has seen two dark clouds pour drops of misery aplenty. The Europa Cup and the Champions League which were pinned to come to this English town, unfortunately went elsewhere.
Thankfully at least the latter stayed in England, as Manchester’s loss was West London’s gain. Yes, The Blues repeated their triumph nine years to date when they conquered Bayern Munich in their own backyard in the 2011-12 edition.
So, without further ado lets dissect this all English final amid a sea of 16,500 fans as Tuchel reigned supreme on Pep for a third successive occasion this season.
Havertz hurrah, the difference maker in the first 45
As the Estádio do Dragão opened its shores to welcome the might of English football, both the outfits looked more than ready for the all-important final.
City made the first play when Raheem Sterling came agonizingly close to open the scoring as he was fed with a brilliant long ball from keeper Ederson. Unfortunately, the English striker couldn’t make the finish as he was forced wide by Blues’ defender Reece James.
Minutes later Chelsea would have a chance of their own to go one up as Kai Havertz laid a beautiful pass to his German team mate, Timo Werner who while attempting to score got the ball stuck in his feet but still managed a shot which was comfortably pouched by Ederson.
As time went on, they were punches and counter punches thrown by both the teams albeit the score line was yet to be disturbed.
The Blues would finally have one in the 42nd minute as Kai Havertz made a majestic run to reach Mason Mount’s through ball to beat keeper Ederson who managed a finger on the ball. The Brazilian’s effort would fall short as the Chelsea man superbly slid the ball in the back of the City net.
A breath-taking effort from the German to register his first goal on the grandest stage of European football. Tuchel was ecstatic and so were the sea of royal blue fans behind him.
As the referee called time on the first 45, Chelsea had the vital lead with City having all to do.
A maiden European title dream shatters for City in the second half
As the second half got underway, Pep and his Manchester City faced their most decisive 45 minutes that stood between a maiden European triumph or dreaded dejection.
Well, desperation to score was the need of the hour and City came close in the 67th minute as Riyad Mahrez curled a great cross for the waiting Jesus in the Chelsea D before The Blues captain, Azpilicueta brilliantly deflected the ball over the cross bar.
City’s anguish was soaring with every passing minute.
Action though would happen at the other end.
Amid Manchester City’s offensive onslaught, Chelsea almost doubled their lead, when in the 73rd minute goal scorer Havertz made another brilliant run towards the City D, threading the ball to a waiting Christian Pulisic who chipped the ball over Ederson as it went inches wide of the post.
As the clock kept ticking, City were rolling towards more desperation to avoid depression.
Six minutes before the full 90, City’s stalwart Sergio Aguero was also unsuccessful in getting the equaliser in his last match for the club as he curled an effort straight at keeper Mendy.
In the seven added minutes to the second half, Manchester City all but tried though were just not capable to find the equaliser.
As time was called on the game, there was a blue celebration all-right, the only difference was in the colour. Royal Blue had conquered the Sky Blue.
Are English teams finally shining amongst Europe’s elite?
Well, my answer is a resounding yes!
With two Champions League titles in three years coming to England, it definitely shows their domination in Europe.
Liverpool in the 2018-19 season triumphing over Tottenham Hotspur and now Chelsea getting the better of Manchester City.
What furthers my belief is both these finals were all English which certainly is testament to the depth and passion shown by the best in The Premier League to become numero uno in Europe.
Spain, Germany, France and Italy, do take note, as with the spark English football has shown off late, may be, The Champions League in the near future could become extinct for you!
Well, who knows, anything is possible.
As for now, Londoners have much to celebrate having conquered the virus and yes of course Europe too!