Manchester City beat Inter Milan for first Champions League title, clinch historic treble


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Manchester City won their first-ever Champions League title and became only the 10th team in history to complete the treble with a 1-0 win over Inter Milan at Istanbul's Ataturk Olympic Stadium on Saturday.

It was City's unsung midfield guardian Rodri who stepped up when the team needed him most to settle a scrappy, evenly matched final with a precisely struck finish from the edge of the penalty box midway through the second half.

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With the victory, Man City have finally ended what coach Pep Guardiola admitted was an "obsession" to lift a first Champions League crown after so many near misses since a 2008 takeover by Abu Dhabi's ruling family transformed them into the richest team in the world.

In doing so, the Premier League and FA Cup winners became the eighth different club and only the second English team -- after local rivals Manchester United in 1999 -- to claim a historic treble.

"Emotional," Rodri said. "A dream come true. All these guys around here waited I don't know how many years. They deserve, we deserve." 

Having lost just once in four months and after sweeping aside holders Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals, Man City went into the game as overwhelming favourites.

Rodri celebrates after scoring Manchester City's first-ever goal in a Champions League final.
Rodri celebrates after scoring Manchester City's first-ever goal in a Champions League final.
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

But Inter, looking for a cup double after lifting the Coppa Italia, gave City all they could handle.

Simone Inzaghi's side twice came agonisingly close to equalising, first when Federico Dimarco looped a header against the crossbar and saw his follow-up blocked by teammate Romelu Lukaku and then when Ederson somehow blocked Lukaku's header from 6 yards out late on.

However, it was City and Guardiola -- previously the winner of two Champions League titles and one treble with Barcelona -- who held on to celebrate and hold aloft the most coveted trophy in European soccer.

Owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan was in attendance to see City's crowning moment. It was only the second time, and first since 2010, he has watched his team in person in 15 years.

"Today we made history," City captain Ilkay Gundogan said. "We knew everyone was talking about the treble. The pressure was there but this team is built to handle the pressure in the best possible way."

City were frustrated in the first half by the Italian players, who worked tirelessly to disrupt their rhythm and also caused some problems in attack.

Norwegian goal machine Erling Haaland had City's best chances with an early effort over the bar and then a low shot blocked by keeper Andre Onana from Kevin De Bruyne's pass.

City's problems mounted when playmaker De Bruyne was forced off in the 36th minute with a leg injury and was replaced by England midfielder Phil Foden.

De Bruyne was also forced off injured when City lost to Chelsea in the final two years ago.

Inter, who were facing City for the first time, were bidding to become European champions for the fourth time.

They continued to frustrate City in the second half, before Rodri's crucial breakthrough when firing through a crowded penalty box from Bernardo Silva's cutback in the 68th minute left Inter unable to respond.

Guardiola has won 12 trophies with City since taking charge in 2016 and with the Champions League jinx broken, any sense of inferiority City may have suffered to the established European royalty of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Liverpool has gone.

City still must defend themselves against more than 100 alleged breaches of Premier League financial regulations dating back to 2009, but that is for another day.

On Saturday alongside the Bosphorous, that was the last thing City's joyous fans cared about as they celebrated the club's first European trophy since the now defunct European Cup Winners' Cup in 1969-70.

Guardiola's side fluffed their lines in Porto two years ago when losing to Chelsea in the Champions League final -- a defeat partially blamed on Guardiola's tactics.

This time he and his players delivered, although it was far from straightforward against the experienced Italian side.

Information from Reuters and the Associated Press was used in this report.