MAN CITY 1, INTER MILAN 0
Rodri wrote himself into Manchester City folklore after striking the goal which earned Pep Guardiola’s side its first-ever Champions League as they also completed a historic treble.
While the Spaniard will be lauded for his spectacular strike, City were also indebted to goalkeeper Ederson who pulled off two big saves late on to enable the Blues to match the exploits of their neighbours in 1999.
After dominating domestic football under Guardiola, the Champions League had become the elusive Holy Grail …. until tonight at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.
And the thousands who have made the journey to Turkey will be partying long into the night after City won the biggest honour in the club’s history in front of Sheik Mansour who was watching the club he bought in 2008 for only a second time.
While it was not a classic final, City proved they can also battle against a tenacious Inter who battled and prevented the Mancunians from playing their usual fluent football.
It didn’t matter because the only thing that mattered was City won 1-0 to become kings of Europe and maybe of the planet later this year when they head to Saudi Arabia for the Club World Cup.
Guardiola expressed his emotions: “Tired. Calm. Satisfied. It’s so difficult to win it.
“They are really good. Be patient, I said at half-time. You have to be lucky. Ederson or they miss it, they could draw. This competition is a coin.
“It was written in the stars. It belongs to us.
“We weren’t at our best level. After the World Cup the team made a step forward and we were there. It wasn’t our best performance.
“I don’t have any energy to think about next season, it’s impossible. We need a break, it’s too long.
“Our players have international games now. UEFA and FIFA, think about it. The Premier League finished two or three weeks ago, now people have to come back. It’s too much. We will start from zero next season.Embed from Getty Images
“We’re going to celebrate in the hotel with family and friends. Monday the parade is in Manchester. With this competition, the treble is so difficult.”
For Rodri, hardly a prolific scorer, he will probably never score a goal as important.
He said: “Emotional. A dream come true. All these guys around here [points to the fans] waited I don’t know how many years. They deserve, we deserve.
“The last years we were so close. I just want to thank everyone.
“It wasn’t easy. What a team we faced, the way they defend and counter-attack.
“We gave everything. I wasn’t good in the first half. I was playing curse word.
“Finals are like this. You can’t expect to play well as always. Emotions and nerves are there.
“We competed like animals. We want more. More ambition. It’s a dream. This moment will never happen again. We hope next year but we deserve to celebrate.
“All of these players who made the club big, [lists players like Sergio Aguero and David Silva] this one is for them.”
City made two changes from the FA Cup final, one expected and one not so much.
Ederson replaced Stefan Ortega, who was their FA Cup keeper, but Kyle Walker dropped to the bench after being injured at Wembley with Nathan Ake taking his place.
Inter Milan were as expected with former City star Edin Dzeko starting ahead of Romelu Lukaku up front.
Former United player Henrikh Mkhitaryan (thigh) and Joaquin Correa (calf) were on the bench after recovering from injury while Matteo Darmian, another ex-Reds’ player, was in from the start.
After a glitzy pre-match show, the one concern that these weren’t the only fireworks of the night with the match kicking off at 10pm local time.
City had the first chance inside three minutes when Kevin De Bruyne released Erling Haaland who blazed over.
Bernardo Silva then bent an effort narrowly wide of the far post after cutting in from the right.
De Bruyne set up Haaland for a second time. This time he hit the target but keeper Andre Onana made a big block.
City suffered a huge blow nine minutes before the break when De Bruyne limped off with a hamstring injury. He continued for several minutes before conceding defeat and was consoled by Haaland as he left the field.
City had a let off following a mistake by Manuel Akanji let in Lautaro Martinez who cut in from the left only for Ederson to block well.
The stalemate was broken in the 68th minutes with a fabulous strike from Rodri following the move of the match.
Akanji burst forward and released Bernado Silva on the right and hit cut the ball back for Rodri to power home an unstoppable drive from the edge of the box.
Inter responded and almost immediately equalised when Frederico Dimarco’s header looped over Ederson and struck the bar.
Dimarco’s follow-up effort looked goalbound until it struck substitute Lukaku who then shot straight at Ederson.
Foden had the chance to seal victory when he burst clean through only for Onana to save well.
City’s second change with seven minutes left was Walker for Akanji.
Inter will still be wondering how they failed to equalise in the 89th minute when Lukaku’s header from six yards struck Ederson who didn’t know much about it as Ruben Dias put the loose ball behind for a corner.
And in the sixth of five added minutes, Ederson pulled off another great save to deny Robin Goosens seconds before the wild celebrations began.