Chelsea beat Manchester City to claim 2020/21 European Champions League title

A single goal gave Chelsea their second UEFA Champions League triumph, as Olympic champion Sergio Aguero and Pep Guardiola's men fell short on a captivating night of football

By Ken Browne
Picture by AFP

Chelsea are the UEFA Champions League winners for 2020/21 after defeating Manchester City 1-0 in the final of European football's biggest men's club competition on Saturday (29 May).

One goal from Kai Havertz in the 42nd minute was enough to see Chelsea emerge victorious in the battle of the English Premier League sides. City will have to wait for a maiden European Cup triumph.

“It’s an incredible feeling, we deserve it” - Kai Havertz to BT Sport

Havertz goal enough for Chelsea win

The game in Porto began at a furious pace, both sides creating chances, the best falling to Timo Werner, Raheem Sterling, and Phil Foden.

But it was Havertz, three minutes before halftime, who showed the composure to round Ederson in the City goal and roll the ball home.

In the build-up Mason Mount's pass was perfect for Havertz, the space for his run was created by Werner, it was an incisive move from a team working on the same wavelength.

Euphoria erupted among the navy blue half of the Estádio do Dragão, real noise from real fans - music to the ears of the millions watching around the world.

City had scored 60 goals in their last 25 Champions League games, but couldn't find one here, Sergio Aguero watching on from the substitutes bench until 15 minutes from the end.

And there was to be no fairytale ending for Argentina's Olympic gold medallist, his time at City ending in tears after the match.

In the end the heroes were all in dark blue, like N'Golo Kante who put in yet another Man of the Match performance, or captain Caesar Azpilicueta who cleared from under the crossbar on 67' when Riyad Mahrez' fizzing cross was on course for a Gundogan tap-in.

“I came after 2012 after the Champions League win and I wanted to repeat that. Tonight it is just amazing.” - Caesar Azpilicueta

Add goalkeeper Eduoard Mendy to that list too, he kept a ninth Champions League clean sheet.

Then there's Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel who was here last season coaching a PSG squad with Neymar and Mbappe, the first man to take different clubs to the CL final in successive seasons.

While last year he was thwarted by Bayern Munich, this was his night, winning the tactical war with Pep Guardiola for the third time since he took over from Frank Lampard in January.

“This is unbelievable," Tuchel told BT Sport post-match.

"To share it with everybody is unbelievable. I don’t know what to feel. I was so grateful to arrive a second time, but I had a feeling this was different. Somehow you could feel it, every day coming closer. The players were determined to win this, we wanted to be the stone in City’s shoe,” he continued.

Chelsea flip the script

From when the teams were announced an hour before the match it appeared that City were set up to attack and Chelsea to defend.

The Sky Blues didn't have a defensive midfielder in the lineup with both Rodri and Fernandinho watching from the sideline, while Chelsea set up with five at the back.

But Guardiola's plan backfired, his team lacked structure and Chelsea found spaces easily with controlled, lightning-quick attacks.

At half time there was very little difference between the possession numbers for the two teams, the flock of attacking players creating confusion up front for the Citizens, while they looked vulnerable at the back.

Werner had a hat-trick of chances inside 20 minutes, but Sterling and Foden also had glimpses at goal in an open and entertaining game.

Havertz' strike was a huge boost for Chelsea right before half time, and City lost Kevin de Bruyne ten minutes after half time to an injury after nasty collision with Rudiger who blocked his path.

City never found their flow and Chelsea dug deep, holding off a late siege with Kante simply everywhere.

Guardiola, having won the Champions League twice with Barcelona, was aiming to join the exalted company of Bob Paisley, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane who have all won this tournament three times.

But that was another script that Tuchel's Chelsea ripped up, intent on writing their own story.