CHELSEA WIN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE! Havertz’s first-half goal wins it for Chelsea after they beat Manchester City 1-0! Just before half-time, Havertz got in between City’s defenders to latch onto the ball and took it around the onrushing Ederson to put it into the empty net.
Chelsea’s solid defence frustrated City throughout, though Mahrez did have a late chance to equalise, but he volleyed his effort just over the bar.
This is Chelsea’s first piece of silverware under Thomas Tuchel and only their second Champions League victory, last lifting the trophy in 2012.
As for City, it just wasn’t their night and they couldn’t add to the EFL Cup and Premier League trophies that they’d already lifted this season.
Many were expecting this final to be a paean to Guardiola’s beautiful football, they were wrong.
Guardiola got his team selection wrong and his team of all the talents looked confused, disjointed and anonymous, square pegs in round holes.
Sterling’s inclusion was particularly intriguing. He has looked short of confidence in recent weeks, running into trouble, spurning chances.
But he is such a brave player that he never hides. He always wants the ball, he always tries to be positive and direct.
It was almost inevitable then that Sterling should be at the heart of City’s most dangerous early incursions.
The image of the match was not City’s blur of movement but of Kante tackling Kevin de Bruyne on the edge of the Chelsea box and leaving him spread-eagled, face down on the turf.
Chelsea thoroughly deserved their 1-0 win. It might easily have been more.
It was not just Kante. Reece James was superb at right back. Kai Havertz, the match winner, who has looked like a little boy lost since he arrived at Stamford Bridge for a record £89m in the summer, scored a fine goal and had one of his best games for the club.
Antonio Rudiger produced one of the best blocks you will ever see to deny Phil Foden. Mason Mount was brilliant. But that’s standard now. He is brilliant every week.
Chelsea finished a distant fourth to City in the Premier League this season, 19 points behind the champions and struggling until the last day even to make it back into the competition next season. Frank Lampard, one of their greatest players, was sacked as manager in January.
They lost the FA Cup final to Leicester. Timo Werner is better known for being offside than scoring goals. And yet through all this upheaval, they found a way to win.
Werner missed a golden chance by miskicking in front of goal when Kai Havertz pulled the ball back to him, Sterling raced forward again and this time it took a sliding intervention by Ben Chilwell to take Sterling’s pass away from Riyad Mahrez as he pulled back his foot to shoot.
Chelsea suffered a blow seven minutes before the interval when Thiago Silva landed awkwardly and appeared to injure his groin.
He was unable to carry on and looked distraught as he limped to the sideline, pulling his shirt over his head to try to hide his disappointment as he was consoled by teammates. He was replaced by Andreas Christensen.
Rudiger and De Bruyne were involved in a nasty collision ten minutes after the break that left Rudiger with a yellow card and De Bruyne needing lengthy treatment.
The Belgian looked as if his senses were scrambled as he was helped from the pitch and he was in tears as he was led away down the tunnel. He was replaced by Gabriel Jesus.
The rush of trophies, though, has come in the last 18 years and this victory felt as if it marked the dawn of a new generation assuming the mantle at Stamford Bridge.
The team that won the Champions League in 2012 was managed by Roberto di Matteo but it was the last flourish of the side built by Jose Mourinho, the team of Lampard, John Terry and Didier Drogba.
This is a new Chelsea. This is a team that has won the biggest club prize at the start of what was supposed to be a period of transition, when it is harmonising new talents like Hakim Ziyech, Mount, Havertz and Werner.
That they won the Champions League now when they are at the start of that process and under the tutelage of a young manager like Tuchel is an ominous sign for their rivals.
Many analyses of Tuchel’s character are rife with contradictions. He is ‘warm’ but also ‘remote’. He is ‘energising’ but his personality can also be ‘exhausting’. He can be ‘popular’ at a club but he is also seen as ‘difficult’.
He is ‘a breath of fresh air’, ‘a football professor’ but he is said to have left his last two jobs at Borussia Dortmund and PSG because the clubs’ directors grew weary of his character.
Tuchel had the last laugh last night. He out-thought the man who is regarded by many as the greatest coach of all time.
Maybe Guardiola played into his hands with a selection that left Phil Foden and De Bruyne looking confused and unsure of their roles in City’s fluid system.
City were convinced they had a penalty when Sterling’s mishit shot appeared to hit Reece James on the arm but even though they implored the referee to consult VAR, the decision was not changed.
Foden started limping heavily, too. Everything suddenly seemed to be going against them. Guardiola replaced Bernardo Silva, who had been anonymous, with Fernandinho.
Guardiola brought City down last night. Tuchel lifted Chelsea up. They were the better team by a distance.
So Guardiola is still waiting for his third Champions League trophy, ten years after he lifted his second one.
And Tuchel is the new kid on the block. He has followed Jurgen Klopp’s trajectory, through Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, to the Premier League and now, like Klopp, he is a Champions League winner, too.
This clash was the first time City had played in a major European final for 51 years after they beat Poland’s Gornik Zabrze 2-1 in the 1970 Cup Winners’ Cup final but that did not stop them going into the game as strong favourites to win the third all-English final of the last 13 years.