A deep run by Bernardo Silva broke the monotony in City’s attack, midway through the second half of a match thick as jelly. Akanji gave him the pass and the Portuguese went behind for Rodri to score the most important goal in the history of the most modest club in Manchester: 1-0. The dynamite charge that brought down the cursed wall and allowed Guardiola to win the first Champions League away from Barca, his 35th title in 15 seasons and probably his most suffered. The one that made him cross the threshold that no coach has crossed: build two legendary teams in two countries.
Ederson Moraes, Manuel Akanji, Ake, Ruben Dias, Rodrigo, Gundogan, De Bruyne (Foden, min. 36), John Stones (Walker, min. 82), Erling Braut Haaland, Grealish and Bernardo Silva
Andre Onana, Darmian (D’Ambrosio, min. 84), Alessandro Bastoni (Robin Gosens, min. 75), Acerbi, Barella, Denzel Dumfries (Raoul Bellanova, min. 76), Brozovic, Calhanoglu (Mkhitaryan, min. 84) , Dimarco, Dzeko (Lukaku, min. 56) and Lautaro Martinez
goals 1-0 min. 68: Rodrigo.
Referee Szymon Marciniak
Yellow cards Barella (min. 58), Lukaku (min. 83), Erling Braut Haaland (min. 91), Andre Onana (min. 92), Ederson Moraes (min. 93) and Inzaghi (min. 96)
“I don’t believe it,” said Rodri at the end. “I was horrible in the first half, but the coach encouraged me and told me to act like a leader. Scoring a goal in the Champions League final shows that any kid who works hard can be here. I had in mind to hit the ball hard but in the end I said: ‘Place it’.
Pep Guardiola asked for “patience”. He asked for it on Tuesday and claimed it on Saturday. As if the greatest of the Confucian virtues concentrated in itself the panacea for the problems that competition presents, the coach instilled it in his players throughout the entire preparation for the final. But the game started, and the first thing that happened was disconcerting. Andre Onana received a ball from his midfielders, and as they pressured him he burst it, sending it into the side stand of the Ataturk Stadium. The ball flew through the cloud of kerosene and sulfur that covered the field after the ceremony that had preceded the game. The implicit message in the ball fell like a blanket over the 70,000 spectators: patience, the Italians and their disciples, nobody wins.
Guardiola built City by recruiting the most outrageous, aggressive and vertical players within his reach on the market. They are masters of the art of moving the ball at breakneck speed, and he fuels that fury with self-sacrifice. Until the decisive matches arrive. Duels like the one at the Bernabeu in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals, matches like the Cup final against United, or matches like the final played in Istanbul. Then the technician begins to modulate the speech. Where before he asked for pressure, rhythm and quick clearances to leave her face and run into space, now he asked for caution. Patience, in the subliminal language of the dressing room, means beware of risky passes, lest the ball fall into the opponent’s hands and cause a lethal counterattack. The calm, the pause, demanded in this way, can lead to confusion in staff accustomed to living on the ledge. It is not clear that those of City perceived this. What Guardiola will not be able to blame them for is that they behaved with courage. Obedient without fissures, they were seen assuming very few responsibilities that exceeded the plan of prudence established by their leader. Since Inter was in no hurry either, the night passed without recording anything other than displays of order, rigor and security, peppered with some specific error that Guardiola somatized by shouting alarm.
Istanbul was not a strange city for Italian fans, but in the English, who arrived at the stadium much later, it gave a kind of anesthesia. Naive, at best, they sang Hey Jude between teeth. The football that his team broadcast only inspired them with patience. Emotions few.
Acerbi, Çalhanoglu, Brozovic, Darmian and Dzeko are close to 30 years old or have far exceeded them. The rival’s slow pace of circulation gave them oxygen. The long game suited them. Every minute that passed with the score 0-0 increased his confidence. The final, a priori one of the most unequal finals in history, ended up amazingly even. City and Inter shared chances and dangerous arrivals alike, when at the edge of 70 minutes, a foray by Rodri —enlightened by the great Bernardo Silva— tilted the final for the English side.
The 1-0 was a nail. A tiny grip on the endless wall. Never has a Guardiola team finished such an important game so close against a more limited opponent. With his Dzeko, with his Lautaro, with his Lukaku, with his Dimarco, Inzaghi’s team ended up putting him in their area, protected by the posts or desperately clearing shots. Fourteen shots were made by Inter, the team with the most catenacciaro from the top 5 in Italy, by seven from City. An anomaly. A case of extreme risk induced by excessive patience, fortunately resolved in favor of Manchester City in Guardiola’s 101st victory in the Champions League. Only Ancelotti (191) and Ferguson (190) surpass him. He is a living soccer legend.
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Source: EL PAIS