Manchester City wins first-ever UEFA Champions League after defeating Inter Milan
Guardiola opted to make two changes from his side that beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final. Ederson returned in between the sticks after recovering from his injury, while Kyle Walker started on the bench. In his place, it was Manuel Akanji who got the nod on the right side of the defense.
For Inter, manager Simone Inzaghi had the luxury of several key players returning in Francesco Acerbi, Nicolo Barella, and Federico Dimarco but Romelu Lukaku started the match on the bench.
The match started precisely as expected, with the Sky Blues dominating possession and creating the majority of the chances. Much like the FA Cup final, Manchester City threatened to pull ahead multiple times within the first five minutes as Bernardo Silva cut inside from the right and curled in a shot that missed the Inter goal by inches.
City was off to a great start but was against a team that is used to defending deep in Europe. Inter absorbed extreme pressure and seemed to be waiting for their opportunity to create chances. For Inter, it was Barella who created their first chance on goal, in the 26th minute. The Italian was well-placed to capitalize on a mistake from Ederson and decided to take a first-time shot. While his effort sailed wide, Inter fans had little to cheer about until that point.
Manchester City quickly resumed normal service. The dangerous Kevin De Bruyne played the even more dangerous Erling Haaland through the middle. However, the Norwegian’s shot was saved by Onana with his feet.
A few minutes later in the 29th minute, Darmian gave De Bruyne space to manipulate the ball on the edge of the box. His shot took a deflection off the Italian defender, allowing Onana to make another save, this one much more comfortable than the last. It was clear that Inter’s goalkeeper would have to have a brilliant day if they were to emerge victorious.
Regardless, the Belgian’s troubles resulted in him pulling up his hamstring. De Bruyne was determined to continue but ended up having to come off in the 30th minute. It was Phil Foden who replaced the influential midfielder.
De Bruyne’s absence resulted in Manchester City losing a bit of rhythm in what remained of the first half. While Inter struggled to get up the field, City was not able to create any big chances and struggled to break through lines. With the match inching towards halftime, it was clear that Guardiola needed to make some changes in order to help his team win before the final whistle.
Inter, on the other hand, seemed comfortable just seeing off possession and keeping the Sky Blues at bay. They succeeded, and the score at the interval was exactly as it started. Simone Inzaghi would have been happy with the fact that his team was able to restrict City to a few good chances. The best chance arrived for Erling Haaland, who would be thinking he should have fired his team ahead.
The second half started in much the way the first half had. Manchester City had most of the ball, but the Inter defense did a good job of seeing them off. Guardiola seemed to be getting more and more frustrated by the minute, with Inter looking for a way to hit back.
Romelu Lukaku entered proceedings in the 57th minute. Edin Dzeko went to the ground under a challenge and Inzaghi had already asked Lukaku to warm up. His presence was expected to give Inter some much-needed hold-up higher up the pitch.
However, City continued to press and looked the more likelier of the two teams to score. Nico Barella had just been booked for a challenge on Phil Foden and was all over the pitch. It wasn’t until the 59th minute that the next big chance of the game arrived. It fell surprisingly to Inter.
Another defensive mistake from City, this time via a torrid backpass from Akanji saw Lautaro Martinez find himself through on goal. However, Martinez had a difficult angle, resulting in a straightforward save for Ederson.
While City was clearly the better side and created multiple chances, Inter was still in the game. The Sky Blues knew that a single careless mistake could prove extremely costly, and seemed to switch on again. It paid off within a few plays, as Rodri broke the deadlock in the 69th minute.
Akanji released Bernardo Silva on the right, who floated a cross over Darmian. However, a deflection from the defender meant that it reached Rodri, who responded with a clean strike. Onana, after having made multiple big saves for his team, was found rooted to the spot as the ball flew in through a crowd of players.
Manchester City now had the lead, and it was their game to lose, something they came close to doing multiple times. With the title at stake, Inter responded by taking risks. Dimarco found himself with a free header but could only hit the crossbar. The rebound then found the left back again, who decided to turn the ball towards Lukaku.
Lukaku cleared the ball off the line in a few moments of madness that ended in panic and mistakes. Dimarco’s second header was on its way to the bottom right corner. However, Lukaku’s interference meant that his team was still trailing the match.
Three minutes later, the Belgian was again played in. This time, his powerful shot was well-saved by Ederson, who had to dive down quickly. With time running out and Inter having missed two huge chances, including one that should have resulted in a goal, Inzaghi decided to make further changes.
Despite Inter needing a goal, Simone Inzaghi seemed to be short on options from the bench. Henrikh Mkhitaryan replaced Hakan Calhanoglu in the 84th minute, with D’Ambrosio replaced Matteo Darmian.
Inter continued committing men forward which caused Manchester City problems. However, the Sky Blues defended well and it seemed as if the Italians had lost their chances to equalize. Lukaku saw a close-range header being saved by Ederson in the 88th minute.
Only six yards out, the Belgian received a perfect cutback from Gosens on the left. However, Lukaku’s header was straight at Ederson who saved it with his knee. Two minutes later, Lukaku found himself isolated on the right, this time against Walker but his early shot was well wide. Despite only joining the match in the 57th minute, most of Inter’s chances fell to their big striker.
With five minutes added for stoppages, the match was not yet over. An altercation between Haaland and Onana broke out after the former seemed to stop the goalkeeper from making a quick clearance. The Cameroonian ended up shoving Halaand in the back, and both players were cautioned by the referee with a yellow card each.
The resulting wastage meant that Inter could only create one big chance before the final whistle. It came from a corner, with a Brozovic cross leading to a Gosens header. However, Ederson made the save and Brozovic could not stop the ball from going out from the rebound.
Manchester City had seen off the last of Inter Milan’s pressure and had won their third major trophy for this season. Manchester City is only the second English team to have won the treble, after their neighbors Manchester United, who did it back in 1999.