Rodri goes Inter City’s history books with UCL winner
Manchester City overcame a resolute Inter Milan side to win 1-0 and secure their long-awaited UEFA Champions League (UCL) triumph, becoming the 23rd club to win Europe’s primary competition and the first maiden victors since Chelsea in 2012.
Facing the Citizens in a competitive fixture for the first time, and doing so on the biggest stage possible, Inter pressed aggressively to limit Pep Guardiola’s side. There was an early warning of what could happen if they didn’t continue in the same vein when Federico Dimarco backed off Bernardo Silva, who jinked his way into the box and curled an effort agonisingly wide. There was also encouragement for the Italian giants as Ederson had a few shaky moments, although Nicolò Barella’s effort trickled wide after the Brazilian’s pass evaded John Stones.
Mere moments later, City produced a scintillating move that released Erling Haaland for a strike that was ultimately thwarted by André Onana. However, in a horrible repeat of the 2021 final, there was heartbreak for Kevin De Bruyne as he was forced off injured, this time with 36 minutes on the clock. Simone Inzaghi’s side had proven difficult to break down even when City had their creator-in-chief on the pitch, and Inter continued to match their opposition with defending that was valiant and organised in equal measure before the break and into the second half.
Inter suffered a blow of their own when Edin Džeko went off before the hour mark, yet there was the opportunity for a swift lift when Manuel Akanji and Ederson both left Silva’s backpass, although the goalkeeper did well to deny Lautaro Martínez after that initial mix-up. Instead, the Italians found themselves behind in the 68th minute when Akanji slipped through Silva, whose cutback deflected off Francesco Acerbi and stood up invitingly for Rodri to calmly stroke in his second-ever UCL goal after getting his first against Bayern Munich.
Dimarco came a crossbar’s width away from heading in the equaliser almost immediately, before conjuring a follow-up that frustratingly hit Romelu Lukaku. With the game opening up more as Inter searched for the equaliser, Phil Foden turned gracefully to work space for himself but saw his final effort comfortably saved. At the other end, Ederson came up with a sensational save to stop Lukaku’s header before Rúben Dias instinctively nodded the ball wide.
Another brilliant Ederson save from Robin Gosens’ header with the final touch saw out a historic treble, as City became the sixth English club to win Europe’s premier competition. In doing so, they inflicted just the second defeat in Inter’s last 13 fixtures and denied them a fourth UCL win. Nevertheless, this night was all about City, and the completion of a mission to lift Europe’s greatest club trophy that Guardiola has so fervently pursued since his arrival at the Etihad Stadium.