Manchester City ended their long wait for a major European crown as they beat Inter Milan 1-0 in Istanbul to win the Champions League.
City were wearing their Puma home kit, and became the German company’s first UCL winners since Red Star back in 1991. Three other Puma outfitted teams had previously made it to the European Cup final in the modern Champions League era but had fallen at the final hurdle- Monaco in 2004, Borussia Dortmund in 2013 and City themselves two years ago against Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea.
Interestingly, Inter were also wearing their home strip, but the Nerazzurri had a different brand on the front of their jersey for this marquee clash. With their previous association with Digitalbits ending prematurely due to the latter’s inability to meet contractual obligations, Inter had been playing without a major shirt partner towards the end of the season, but inked a deal with Paramount just before the CL final.
Puma actually had two representatives in the last four, and this could even have been an all-Puma final had AC Milan managed to get the better of their great city rivals in the last four. However, the Rossoneri ended up losing the tie 3-0 on aggregate.
In Istanbul, Rodri’s strike, midway through the second half, was the difference between the two sides at the final whistle. The Spanish midfielder was first to the ball in the area and almost passed it into the back of the net. It wasn’t as stunning as his effort against Bayern in the last eight, but an equally important, if not more important, goal from a City point of view.
The likes of Lottoland sports betting had City as favourites going into the final, and it wasn’t difficult to see why. Pep Guardiola’s men had eliminated the likes of Bayern and defending champions Real Madrid- the latter in ruthless fashion in the second leg of their semi-final tie, en route to Istanbul.
Inter’s road, by comparison, had been an easier one, with Porto, Benfica and Milan as their knockout stage opponents. The Nerazzurri however came into the final with a plan, and almost executed it to perfection.
Given the way City had steamrolled their way past Real and Bayern, few expected Inter to pose problems, but Simone Inzaghi’s side made life difficult for the Citizens in the first half, with their pressing game making it difficult for City to build any real tempo.
Pep Guardiola’s side also lost key midfielder Kevin de Bruyne to injury, with the Belgian playmaker having to be replaced by the much younger Phil Foden.
Erling Haaland was also a shadow of his former self as City struggled to break Inter down. Apart from the Rodri goal, City created only one real chance of note, with Foden shooting straight at Inter keeper Andre Onana. Haaland had a half-chance before the interval, but his shot didn’t really test Onana.
Inter had two glorious chances after the interval, but substitute striker Romelu Lukaku, a former Manchester United player himself, ended up playing spoilsport. He first came in the way of a Federico Dimarco header, and later ended up heading at Ederson from point blank range, when one on either side of the keeper would’ve most definitely ended up in the back of the net.
It’s not often that you see the opposition having more shots than City, but that is what happened here as Inter desperately searched for an equaliser. Pep Guardiola’s men were however able to hang on to their lead, and in the process, completed a fine treble, matching bitter rivals United’s great achievement from 1999. The Spanish gaffer thus also became the first manager to do the treble with two different clubs, having previously achieved it with Barcelona back in the 2008/09 season.