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EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS: Chelsea win the Champions League

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS: Chelsea win the Champions League

Chelsea win the Champions League for the second time after beating Manchester City 1-0 in Porto thanks to a first half goal from Kai Havertz.

They held out for an entire second half in an entertaining clash between two English sides to produce a huge surprise.

Open first half

 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola opted to play Raheem Sterling instead of an obvious holding midfielder whilst Chelsea set up in their usual 5-2-3/3-4-3 formation, hoping to repeat their recent victories over City in both the FA Cup and the Premier League.

It was a cagey first five minutes and the referee was quick to blow for fouls, with Chelsea particularly fortunate with one given against Kyle Walker but the game then opened up all of a sudden with a couple of opportunities at either end.

The first chance fell to Sterling, with the Englishman latching onto a long ball by Ederson but Chelsea goalkeeper Eduoard Mendy did well to narrow the angle.

Minutes later, Chelsea had their first opportunity with a long ball of their own causing chaos and resulting in Kai Havertz being played down the left wing and he cut back to Timo Werner who miscued when he was free in the six yard box.

 

Wasteful Werner

 

Werner then wasted a couple of glorious opportunities in a matter of seconds as first, Chelsea won the ball high up the pitch and the German forward had a free shot from only 8 yards but could only produce a tame effort that was comfortable for Ederson.

In the very next attack, Werner again found himself with shooting space in the box but his deflected effort went just wide of the post. Ngolo Kante also saw a back post header go over the bar as Chelsea showed their potency on the counter-attack.

 

City bare their teeth

 

After initially struggling to get between the lines of Chelsea’s compact defensive unit, City created a couple openings of their own. The talismanic Kevin De Bruyne burst into space down the left and squared the ball to Phil Foden who looked to have the goal at his mercy but an excellent recovery by Chelsea defender Tony Rudiger prevented the first goal.

A few moments later, Kyle Walker produced one of his trademark runs from right-back, managing to push the ball past England colleague Ben Chilwell and squaring it across but no one was there to tap home.

 

Chelsea take the lead

 

Chelsea were then forced to take off defender Thiago Silva but this didn’t faze them as they soon took the lead through the ever-improving Havertz. A through ball that defines the term ‘defence splitting’ found him and he rounded Ederson to tap home the opener.

Chelsea then had another half chance through Werner but he snatched at a shot. Nevertheless, they deserved their lead at the break with full-backs Chilwell and Reece James impressing.

 

Nasty injury for De Bruyne

 

The second began without much action of note before an innocuous collision between De Bruyne and Rudiger forced the Belgian from the field, leaving them without perhaps their key attacking inspiration. The only relief was to see him walking off the pitch of his own accord although tears were shed.

In their next attack, City had a penalty shout waved away as Sterling’s shot was blocked by James but it was determined that the ball had struck his chest before his arm.

 

Chelsea stifle City

 

City then produced their best move of the second half as Foden broke the lines with a neat one-two and showed his characteristic balance to slip in Riyad Mahrez who squared it across goal but Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta slid in to clear it over the bar.

The Chelsea defence, now marshalled by substitute Andreas Christensen dealt with City cross after City cross as the London side forced Guardiola’s men down the wings, with Kante snuffing out any attempt to find a way through the middle of the Chelsea rearguard

The best chance of the second half then fell Chelsea’s way as Kai Havertz made a rare break and delivered a perfectly timed pass into Christian Pulisic’s path but the American could only put it wide.

City decided to call on Sergio Aguero, playing his last game for the club after an incredible 10 years in Manchester. It would have made for an incredible story if the Argentine managed to find a goal but it wasn’t to be as Chelsea ran down the clock.

City’s best chance actually fell to Aguero’s successor, fellow substitute Gabriel Jesus couldn’t quite turn the ball home as Chelsea continued to throw bodies on the line. They then navigated seven minutes of stoppage time leaving fans to celebrate as Chelsea win the Champions League.

 

Champions of Europe again

 

This win was really all about two men. Thomas Tuchel came in with Chelsea languishing in mid-table and looking as far off European champions as Yeovil Town. However, his excellent defensive tactics in which his centre halves and two holding midfielders leave no space between them have taken Chelsea to an unlikely second Champions League victory.

Key to stopping a City side that have swashbuckled their way to the Premier League title was Ngolo Kante who can now add a Champions League to his honours list that also include a World Cup. The Frenchman was quite literally everywhere, one minute producing the cleanest slide tackle imaginable on De Bruyne and the next bursting 50 yards up the pitch to create an opening for Havertz.

City will again think what might have been as Guardiola fails for a fifth season to bring that elusive European title to the blue half of Manchester but tonight was all about Chelsea who win the Champions League.

 


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