Chelsea won the Champions League for the second time with a fully deserved victory 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 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.
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.
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. BBC