Man City completed the treble of the 2022-2023 season when winning Inter 1-0, in the Champions League final in Istanbul.
Man City became the second English club in history to win three major titles in the season, including the FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League, after neighboring Man Utd in 1999. The victory for Pep Guardiola’s teachers and students in Istanbul was was expected by many, but the course of the game showed that things could have gone the other way if strikers Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku hadn’t squandered their chances.
Before the game, few people thought that Inter would end up with twice as many shots as Man City, but it turned out to be true. Simone Inzaghi’s army finished 14 times in this match, but the victory belonged to Man City thanks to the brilliance of midfielder Rodri in the 68th minute. Akanji pulled the ball up and split Silva’s armpit into the penalty area. Silva’s cross hit the Inter player and bounced back, right in line with Rodri rushing up from the second line to put his heart in the near corner, causing goalkeeper Onana to stand still and watch the ball fly into the net.
This goal, although a bit staggered, still bears the mark of Guardiola. Rodri is the second Spaniard to score for an English club in a Champions League final, since Xabi Alonso for Liverpool in 2005 also at Ataturk.
Rodri’s cushion goes through two Inter players…
History calls Man City, but avoids Lukaku. Three minutes after Man City’s goal, Inter responded with a babbling situation in the penalty area, when defender Federico Dimarco hit the ball and hit the crossbar. It was Dimarco who hit the head but the ball hit Lukaku and bounced back, otherwise Man City’s net might have shaken.
Lukaku was also given a better chance in the 88th minute, but he was still poor in scoring. Captain Marcelo Brozovic hung the ball from the right to the second post for Gosens to head a cross, allowing Lukaku to head close to the wall, but the ball hit the ground and bounced off goalkeeper Ederson. The Brazilian goalkeeper himself was surprised when the ball flew to his position in this situation, and Lukaku and many Inter spectators held their heads in regret.
Inter also created good chances about 10 minutes before Rodri scored, but then Martinez handled the lack of teammates. In that situation, Ederson and Akanji both yielded the ball to each other, allowing Martinez to dive into the penalty area to steal. Instead of passing in to Lukaku or back to Brozovic, Martinez shot straight and hit Ederson. Out on the touchline, coach Guardiola knelt down after his student’s mistake, then relieved when the home team did not concede a goal.
True to what Guardiola said before the game, Inter caused many difficulties for Man City. Moreover, he also lost conductor Kevin de Bruyne after half an hour of rolling due to injury, causing him to leave the field to make way for Phil Foden. During his time on the field, the Belgian midfielder made the ball for Erling Haaland to face the keeper, but the Norwegian striker’s shot was not dangerous enough to bring down goalkeeper Andre Onana. After De Bruyne left the field, Haaland also did not make any mark because of hunger for the ball.
There were times at the end of the first half or at the beginning of the second half when Man City was in trouble, Guardiola had to shout for his students to calm down. They could have won easier had Foden not missed a chance to face in the 77th minute. Man City also had to rely on Ederson’s talent in the last second to push Gosens’ header.
After the final whistle, the players and Man City coaching staff rushed into the field, when most of the members won the Champions League for the first time. For Guardiola, this was his third Champions League title as a coach, after Carlo Ancelotti. And owner Mansour Al Nahyan, when he came to see Man City for the first time after 13 years, enjoyed the joy of the team winning the Champons League for the first time.
Man City finished the Champions League 2022-2023 season unbeaten, winning eight, drawing five, scoring 33 goals and conceding only five times. The only arena they did not win was the English League Cup, when they were knocked out by Southampton in the quarterfinals. But if they maintain their form, Man City will again be a champion candidate in all competitions in the 2023-2024 season.