Chelsea are the champions of Europe – again!
A top-quality performance at both ends of the pitch in Porto did the job in some style with a single Kai Havertz goal deciding the contest and bringing the trophy back to Stamford Bridge for a second time. We are the only team in London to win the European Cup, and we have won it twice!
Havertz scored the winner with three minutes to go before half-time. The 21-year-old took a superb through-ball by the exceptional Mason Mount beyond Ederson in the Man City goal and stroked it into the net, capping his debut season for the Blues in the best way possible.
Before that, Timo Werner had a couple of opportunities as Chelsea were the better side before the break, and when our opponents had threatened, some classy pieces of individual defending prevented Edouard Mendy from being tested during the first 45 minutes.
The Blues winning personal duels across the pitch was the basis for this performance, cheered on by the Chelsea support who were the louder in their own contest with the City fans, even when the score was still 0-0.
We lost Thiago Silva to injury before half-time but even that did not rock the Chelsea boat, and Man City would later lose Kevin De Bruyne during a second half that was more even and in which we had to defend strongly.
Even then the best opportunity to score was created by Thomas Tuchel’s side, Christian Pulisic shooting wide. City went close deep into added time but thankfully one goal proved enough on a night of many impressive displays, not least from our young players, both homegrown and from overseas.
This was one to enjoy!
By capturing the seventh piece of European silverware in our history, Chelsea move into the top 10 of all-time UEFA trophy winners. We also join an exclusive list of 12 other clubs to have won the European Cup/Champions League on more than one occasion.
After three games with their more usual roles reversed, Reece James reverted to right wing-back and Cesar Azpilicueta was in the back three.
Kai Havertz was handed a role in the attack along with his compatriot Timo Werner and Chelsea Player of the Year Mason Mount.
Edouard Mendy and N’Golo Kante had both overcome their recent injuries sufficiently to start.
The big kick-off in the biggest game
As a lovely sunny day in Porto turned into evening, the wait was over. The Premier League had decamped to northern Portugal for this season’s decider on who would be crowned champions of Europe and the world was watching, as were almost 15,000 supporters inside the stadium. Nowhere near full capacity due to Covid restrictions but they generated a very welcome big-game atmosphere nonetheless.
There had been plenty of talk before the game about Chelsea’s deserved two wins against Manchester City recently and traditionally, Pep Guardiola had suffered more bad days against the west Londoners than against any other club.
Would we find the same amount of space when we attacked as we did in the FA Cup semi-final and at the Etihad against City, and when chances came our way, could we take them?
There were a few nervous touches in the early stages, and the whistle blew regularly for misdemeanours from both sides, but then the game steadily settled down with Chelsea growing stronger as it progressed.
In the eighth minute, a long kick down field from City keeper Ederson reached Raheem Sterling who had run behind the Chelsea defence, but Reece James recovered well and made a muscular intervention.
The Blues build
We responded and Havertz centred low from the left but Werner’s contact with the ball was not a good one. Suddenly it was end-to-end stuff and Ben Chilwell slid to make a great clearance as Sterling sent the ball dangerously in front of our goal.
As the game reached its quarter-of-an-hour mark, Werner had two shots in the space of a minute. The first, after good work from Mount, was struck at Ederson and the second, from a tighter angle, hit the side-netting. The Blues, as hoped, were finding areas from which to threaten our opponents.
A Chilwell cross was met at the far post by Kante of all people. He headed wide but we reached the midway point of the first half with Chelsea looking the better side. Academy boys Mount and James were outstanding.
City, of course, were still dangerous, and we were thankful for a great block by Rudiger when Foden was played through on goal.
Despite that moment, Chelsea’s early nerves had gone and we were winning the ball and playing it around well and with good pace, but disruption was on its way. Thiago Silva had felt a problem with his groin and although he tried to continue, a few minutes later one of last season’s losing finalists had to give way to Andreas Christensen. Emotion was etched on the Brazilian’s face.
Kai cuts through
Before that substitution, Kante, who was not looking troubled by the hamstring problem that had threatened his participation, gave Havertz the chance to cut inside in the penalty area and look for a shot but Zinchenko dispossessed him well. With our next attack, Havertz opened the scoring.
It was no surprise Mount was involved. Accepting a pass from Chilwell, our Player of the Year spotted Havertz’s run and found him. The young German pushed the ball beyond Ederson, hurdled him, and having done the difficult part, could enjoy putting the ball into the empty net.
It was a lead we took into half-time, and it was a lead we deserved.
Man City always seemed likely to improve, and they did after the interval, but Kante set the tone for our resistance with a superb tackle to take the ball off a penalty-area bound De Bruyne and before long, City’s Belgian talisman was joining Thiago Silva on the injured list.
His departure followed a collision with Rudiger who needed treatment too, but De Bruyne appeared concussed and so his game was inevitably over. Rudiger was booked, Gabriel Jesus came on.
City claimed a penalty for handball when Sterling shot for goal but the ball was clearly blocked by the chest of James. The appeals from the players and their fans indicated a degree of desperation by this stage of the encounter.
They rightly had hope when a Foden-initiated attack sent the ball deep into the danger zone but Azpi cleared inspirationally in front of goal. There were now just over 20 minutes to go.
Without creating clear chances, City were by this stage keeping Tuchel’s men pinned back, but a moment came to break forward and possibly decide the contest with Havertz at its heart. He teed up substitute Pulisic for a shot but although the American scooped it past Ederson, he also sent it past the far post.
Seven minutes of added time had to be negotiated before the joyous final whistle, and there were clearances a plenty and tackles made at our end of the pitch, and there was one big chance for City and they went close, but Riyad Mahrez’s shot just cleared our bar and soon the celebrations would begin.
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta (c), Thiago Silva (Christensen 39), Rudiger; James, Kante, Jorginho, Chilwell; Havertz, Mount (Kovacic 80); Werner (Pulisic 66).
Unused subs Caballero, Kepa, Alonso, Emerson, Zouma, Gilmour, Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech, Giroud.
Scorer Havertz 42
Booked Rudiger 57
Man City (4-2-1-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko; Silva (Fernandinho 64), Gundogan; Foden; Mahrez, De Bruyne (c) (Jesus 60), Sterling (Aguero 77).
Unused subs Carson, Steffen, Ake, Cancelo, Garcia, Laporte, Mendy, Rodri, Torres.
Booked Gundogan 34, Jesus 88
Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz from Spain.