Manchester City tasted Champions League glory at last on Saturday as a second-half Rodri strike gave the favourites a 1-0 victory over Inter Milan in a tense final, allowing Pep Guardiola’s side to complete a remarkable treble.
Rodri fired in from a Bernardo Silva cutback midway through the second half at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium to decide a game in which City were knocked out of their usual rhythm and lost Kevin De Bruyne to injury.
Erling Haaland, scorer of 52 goals this season, went a fifth straight match without finding the net, but City still had enough to edge out opponents who had never been expected to get this far in the first place.
Having already claimed a fifth Premier League title in six seasons, and added the FA Cup, City are the first English club to win such a treble since Manchester United in 1999.
That same month 24 years ago, City won the English third-tier play-off final on penalties against Gillingham.
Now they have established themselves as England’s dominant side and have finally added the biggest prize in European club football, two years after losing to Chelsea in their first final.
The match was watched by owner Sheikh Mansour, who made a very rare appearance at a City game as his team capped their rise from also-rans to superpower in the years since he bought the club in 2008.
– Guardiola’s third title –
Twelve years after last lifting the trophy with Barcelona, meanwhile, Guardiola joins an elite club of coaches to have won the Champions League three times.
Yet having brushed aside RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid to reach the final, City did not have it easy against Inter, who saw Federico Dimarco and substitute Romelu Lukaku both almost equalise late on.
Inter had hoped to spring a surprise and lift the trophy for the fourth time. It was not to be, but Simone Inzaghi’s side will be back in the competition again next season.
Victory for Guardiola’s men, to go with the three titles of rivals United, means Manchester becomes just the second city to produce two different winners of the competition, after Milan.
The occasion did not match the drama of the last Champions League final held at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium.
Liverpool triumphed here in 2005, recovering from a three-goal deficit against AC Milan to draw 3-3 before winning on penalties.
However, it also passed off without serious incident, a year after chaos overshadowed the final at the Stade de France in Paris, even if the stadium’s location some 25 kilometres west of central Istanbul did not make access simple for supporters.