Chelsea defeated English rival Manchester City, 1-0, in Porto, Portugal, to triumph in the Champions League final Saturday, winning the European competition for the first time since 2012.
The underdog went ahead shortly before the break on a brilliant pass from Mason Mount to Kai Havertz, who got behind the City defense and beat goalkeeper Ederson to score his first Champions League goal.
Chelsea toppled Manchester City, 1-0, in Saturday’s Champions League final in Portugal, winning the club’s first continental crown in nearly a decade and spoiling the Premier League champion’s hopes for a title in its first final appearance.
Kai Havertz’s 42nd-minute goal secured the Blues’ third win in its past three meetings with City, all of which have come in the past two months. Chelsea won its first — and what had been its only — Champions League trophy in 2012.
Manchester City, which secured the Premier League crown two weeks ago, was favored to win the competition for the first time in club history, despite losing to Chelsea twice in the past two months. Coach Thomas Tuchel had revitalized Chelsea since he joined the club in January, leading it to a top-four Premier League finish.
Christian Pulisic replaced Timo Werner in the 66th minute, becoming the first U.S. men’s national team player to see the field in a Champions League final. (Nine American women previously made final appearances.)
His substitution came as each team continued to freshen their sides. City’s Fernandinho replaced Bernardo Silva in the 64th minute.
Shortly after entering, Pulisic came close to doubling Chelsea’s lead but pushed his 72nd-minute shot just wide.
Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne was treated for several minutes following a 56th-minute collision with Chelsea defender Antonio Rüdiger that led both to require medical attention. De Bruyne was replaced by Gabriel Jesus when he returned to his feet and Rüdiger was shown a yellow card.
Chelsea fans were concerned Edouard Mendy, a key piece of the team’s defensive resurgence, might not play in Saturday’s final. But the Senegalese goalkeeper proved fit enough to start against Manchester City and helped put the Blues ahead when he launched a long ball, which Ben Chilwell shifted to Mason Mount to spur Chelsea’s 42nd-minute attack. Mount exposed a misshapen City back line with a piercing through ball, which pitted Kai Havertz against a charging Ederson at the top of the box.
Ederson slid. Havertz’s left-footed tap sent the ball past him and he poked it into the empty net to put Chelsea ahead minutes before halftime.
Havertz’s goal lifted Chelsea after Timo Werner failed to convert several promising opportunities earlier in the half. By intermission, City held slightly more possession (52-48 percent) but Chelsea had created more chances (five shots to three), punishing its Premier League foes just minutes after losing Thiago Silva to an injury.
For a player as impactful as the young Germany playmaker was in the Bundesliga, Havertz has endured a torrid season, hampered by a long Covid-19 infection and a loss of form that may not have entirely been down to his illness.
Such were his performances in his homeland that there was little dispute over the need for Chelsea to break their club record transfer fee, signing him for what could amount to more than $100 million.
Perhaps the slice of luck Havertz received, seeing his initial shot after he had evaded Oleksandr Zinchenko blocked back into his path by onrushing goalkeeper Ederson to present him with an open goal, was deserved after his troubles. On the sideline, Tuchel could not contain his joy.
City steamrollered the Premier League in the second half of the season. There were almost no clear chances here, let alone rampages. Chelsea nullified the English champions, although there were inevitable scares: Azpilicueta cleared from under his own crossbar, and Andreas Christensen – Silva’s replacement – blocked a Mahrez effort at close range.
Inspirational midfield orchestrator Kevin de Bruyne looked even more anguished than Silva had been as City were forced to replace him – justifiably, too, given a facial injury agonizing enough to leave him nursing a stream of blood with a towel from a seat.
His manager, Pep Guardiola, had started the evening determined to prove he could win the Champions League for the first time without the help of Lionel Messi, and there must have been times when he wished he could count on the split seconds of magic his former striker can create to complete seemingly impossible missions against defenses of the kind organized by Tuchel.
“Since Roman’s come in, no club in England has won more trophies – so it’s working,” said former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole, adding that Tuchel would join the likes of ex-Blues boss Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti as a manager ranked among legends.
“He loves Chelsea. He was on the phone, every day, wanting to know what was going on. Havertz was his signing. “He can be from Russia but he’s west London.”
“I was so grateful to be in the final again but I had a different feeling,” said Tuchel, calling the sensation “unbelievable”. “We wanted to be a stone in City’s shoes, a stone in the clockwork of Man City.”