Chelsea have been crowned European champions for the second time after Kai Havertz’s first-half goal sealed a 1-0 defeat of Manchester City in the 2021 UEFA Champions League final.
UEFA.com’s Chelsea reporter Jon Phipps and City correspondent Matthew Howarth explain how the all-English showdown was decided in Porto.
Where the final was won
Rock solid at the back
A ninth clean sheet in the tournament for goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, but he only had one save to make on the night thanks to the excellence of those in front of him. There were superb blocks from Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen, who superbly stepped into Thiago Silva’s shoes after the Brazilian’s first-half injury. Out of possession, Chelsea were immense, getting all 11 men behind the ball and stopping Manchester City from playing the sort of football that is usually so effective.
The German touch
Appointed in January, Thomas Tuchel has transformed this Chelsea side, making them hard to beat, and it has paid handsome dividends. Rüdiger came in from the cold and was brilliant all the way through the knockout stage; and if Timo Werner and Kai Havertz still have so much more to offer, under Tuchel there seems little doubt it will happen. Their movement in the first half was exceptional, and it was thanks to one of those incisive runs that Havertz got the goal which won them the title.
Jon Phipps, Chelsea reporter
Where the final was lost
Tactical tweak proves costly
Pep Guardiola appeared to have a settled team going into the final, but he opted to throw a curve-ball by naming Raheem Sterling in his starting line-up in Porto. The resulting tactical reshuffle left City without a recognised holding midfielder – a move that proved costly in the build-up to Chelsea’s goal. John Stones was dragged out of position by Werner and Oleksandr Zinchenko failed to track Havertz, giving the latter a clear sight of goal.
De Bruyne departure seals fate
Granted, City rarely threatened when Kevin De Bruyne was on the pitch, but losing the talismanic Belgian to injury with half an hour remaining was a huge blow – psychologically as much as anything else. With De Bruyne, you would have expected the Cityzens to launch one final onslaught on Chelsea’s dogged rearguard. Without him, an already difficult task became much, much harder.
Matthew Howarth, Manchester City reporter