Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City win the Champions League final thanks to Rodri’s 68th-minute goal; second English club to win the treble; Ederson’s dramatic late save from Romelu Lukaku helps City make history in Istanbul
Pep Guardiola, Manchester City, Treble
Manchester City completed the treble with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Inter Milan in the Champions League final in Istanbul.
Rodri’s side-footed finish midway through the second half broke Inter’s resistance and though Federico Dimarco hit the crossbar with a header before Ederson saved sensationally from Romelu Lukaku, City held on to make history in the Ataturk Olympic Stadium.
Having already overhauled Arsenal to retain the Premier League trophy and beaten Manchester United to lift the FA Cup at Wembley, this victory saw them match the achievement of their city rivals in 1999. Pep Guardiola was in tears afterwards.
The Catalan coach has won it all at City but this was the one they have been waiting for – champions of Europe for the first time. For Guardiola, it ends his 12-year wait to win the competition for a third time as a coach and a fourth time overall.
How Man City made history in Turkey
It was tight and it was tense. Fraught with jeopardy, of course, but difficulty too. Made more difficult when Kevin De Bruyne trudged off injured in the first half, the second time in three seasons that he has departed a Champions League final with the game in the balance.
Ederson looked nervy early on, showing moments of sloppiness that hinted at the scale of the occasion. Rodri was misplacing passes. Erling Haaland broke clear once but his shot was saved. It was City’s best chance in the opening 45 minutes against an organised Inter.
Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne is assisted after getting injured during the Champions League final
Kyle Walker was only among the substitutes so Nathan Ake came into the Manchester City team in the only change from the two-legged semi-final against Real Madrid.
Inter went with former City striker Edin Dzeko up front partnering Lautaro Martinez. Former Manchester United duo Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were on the bench.
The task did not become easier once Lukaku replaced Edin Dzeko and Inter could have led had Ederson not denied Lautaro Martinez from a narrow angle after Manuel Akanji inexplicably allowed the ball to run through. Guardiola was on his knees in despair.
It was joy soon after. Akanji slipped a pass through to Bernardo Silva and his cut-back deflected into the path of the oncoming Rodri. The midfielder measured his finish, bending it beyond two Inter defenders and into the corner of the net to break the deadlock.
Rodri had been left on the bench for the Champions League final against Chelsea in 2021. Not this time. His goal will rank among the most important in City’s history, a moment to rival the Sergio Aguero title-winning strike of 11 years earlier. But it was not the end.
Dimarco capitalised on uncertainty inside the City box and his looping header beat Ederson only to come back off the crossbar. The second chance looked more straightforward but this time Dimarco’s header struck the legs of Lukaku. A fortunate escape.
Lukaku had a clearer opportunity with just minutes remaining. Robin Gosens centred the ball and the striker just had to beat Ederson from close range. His header was firm but not in the corner, the goalkeeper producing an astonishing stop to keep the ball out.
It is a save that will be talked about for years. A night that will be talked about for years. Manchester City are champions of Europe.
The treble is theirs.
Inter fans express their anguish after Romelu Lukaku’s near equaliser against Man City
Man City players reflect on hard-fought win
“I was awful but I don’t care,” Jack Grealish told BT Sport afterwards. “To win the treble with this group of players is so special. This is what you work your whole life for. I am so happy.” Rodri, the scorer of the game’s only goal, expressed a similar sentiment.
“I said to myself I had to overcome the situation, the mentality. I scored a goal, unbelievable,” said the Spain international. “Finals are like this. You cannot expect to play how we normally play. But the lads competed to the end. We competed like animals.”
It was credit to Inter that City were made to look less than their best. Tactically, their head coach Simone Inzaghi had his team set up perfectly. “It was not easy. What a team we faced. The way they defended and counter-attacked was unbelievable.”
“We were not at our best in the first half of the game,” agreed Ilkay Gundogan. “We were hesitating a little. Even though we had a couple of good chances we knew we had to do better in the second half. That is what we did but still it was probably a 50-50 game.
“One goal made the difference as it does many times in finals. We feel very fortunate that it was ours.”