Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan lifts the UEFA Champions League trophy after the team’s victory during the UEFA Champions League 2022/23 final match between FC Internazionale and Manchester City FC at Atatuerk Olympic Stadium on June 10, 2023 in Istanbul, Turkey . | Image Credit: Getty Images
Manchester City capped a sensational season by beating Inter Milan 1-0 to win the Champions League for the first time and complete the treble on a nervy Saturday night.
Spanish midfielder Rodri’s 68th-minute goal set up a competitive game in which a far more fluent City dominated comfortably against the three-time winners from Italy at the Ataturk Stadium.
Inter almost leveled at the death when a point-blank header by substitute Romelu Lukaku was saved by Ederson.
But City, who lost the final two years ago against Chelsea, will not be denied.
“Emotional. A dream come true. All these men around have been waiting for I don’t know how many years. They deserve, we deserve,” said Rodri.
Completing the treble
By being crowned champions of Europe, they equaled the treble achieved by Manchester United in 1999 by lifting the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League crowns.
City manager Pep Guardiola has now won the Champions League three times and taken his trophy tally with City to 12.
It was far from a fluent City performance, however, against a tireless Inter side who looked capable of causing a shock.
Manchester City’s Rodrigo celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the Champions League final soccer match between Manchester City and Inter Milan at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey, on June 10, 2023 | Photo Credit: AP
City were stymied in the first half and their fans were reduced to near silence at times as nerves frayed.
With Kevin de Bruyne injured, City struggled to create chances and were shaky at the back but the ever-reliable Rodri came to the rescue in the end.
Once Inter could not close the gaps and Bernardo Silva’s cutback was swept away by the Spaniard.
Even then, City were forced to go down to the wire at the end of a long season as Lautaro Martinez hit the bar for Inter and Lukaku was denied by Ederson’s superb save at the death.
Finally, in guiding Manchester City to the European crown they cherished after several gut-wrenching near misses since Sheikh Mansour bought the club in 2008, Guardiola became the first manager to achieve two trebles in European football, after the Spanish equivalent of Barcelona in 2009.
Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku, right, misses a chance to score during the Champions League final soccer match between Manchester City and Inter Milan at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey, on June 10, 2023. | Photo Credit: AP
He has won 12 trophies with City since taking over in 2016 and with the Champions League jinx broken, any sense of inferiority City may have felt to the established European royalty of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Liverpool has disappeared.
City must still defend themselves against more than 100 alleged breaches of the Premier League’s financial regulations dating back to 2009, but that’s for another day.
On Saturday by the Bosphorous, that was the last thing on the minds of jubilant City fans as they celebrated the club’s first European trophy since the now-defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1969–70.
Guardiola’s side fluffed their lines at Porto two years ago when losing to Chelsea in the Champions League final — a defeat partly blamed on Guardiola’s tactics.
This time he and his players delivered, although it was far from straightforward against a wily Italian side.