ISTANBUL - Manchester City won the UEFA Champions League to wrap up a historic treble with a 1-0 win over Inter Milan in Istanbul on Saturday.
It wasn’t vintage as City as Simon Inzaghi’s Inter put up a vintage defensive display, full of bite and fury, but Rodri’s vicious strike deep in the second half put City in the driver’s seat.
The Premier League winners three times running had an FA Cup under their belt after beating Manchester United on June 3 and the final jewel in their treble crown arrived Saturday.
Manchester City's Champions League final victory over Inter Milan was "written in the stars", manager Pep Guardiola said after his side secured the treble on Saturday.
The 52-year-old Spaniard completed his collection at City as compatriot Rodri fired home the only goal in the 68th minute for a hardfought 1-0 victory against the dogged Italians. Guardiola has now emulated Alex Ferguson, whose Manchester United side also swept to a Premier League/FA Cup/Champions League treble in 1999, and has delivered 12 major trophies for City.
Not only that, but he is the first coach to win two trebles, having achieved the Spanish version as Barcelona manager in 2009, winning La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League. Guardiola has now claimed three Champions League titles as a manager and only Carlo Ancelotti with four has won more.
He said he had received a good luck message from Ferguson, whose 38 trophies for United still dwarfs Guardiola's haul of 17 with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City. "It's an honor for me to be alongside Alex Ferguson," Guardiola told reporters. "I had a message from this morning that touched me a lot, that was so nice." United's treble was achieved with a stupendous last-gasp comeback against Bayern Munich and while City's was less dramatic, they were still made to suffer.
TOUGH NUT As Guardiola predicted, Inter proved a tough nut to crack and they threatened to extend City's wait for the trophy that owner Sheikh Mansour has longed for since buying the club in 2008.
"Tired. Calm. Satisfied. It's so difficult to win it," said an emotional Guardiola after hugging every one of his players and the club's hierarchy who joined the pitch celebrations. "Inter are really good. Be patient, I said at halftime. You have to be lucky. This competition is a coin toss. "It was written in the stars. It belongs to us." Guardiola's side, who arrived in the final with only one defeat in their last 27 games in all competitions, were far from their best, although credit must go to Inter who disrupted City's rhythm with a tenacious display. City also had to recover from losing chief playmaker Kevin De Bruyne to injury in the first half while Erling Haaland, scorer of 52 goals this season, was well shackled by Inter's defence.
"We weren't at our best level. After the World Cup the team made a step forward and we were there. It wasn't our best performance," Guardiola said. City will be going for a fourth successive Premier League crown next season and will be one of the favourites to claim the Champions League again. "I don't have any energy to think about next season, it's impossible. We need a break, it's too long," Guardiola said.
"Our players have international games now. UEFA and FIFA, think about it.
The Premier League finished two or three weeks ago, now people have to come back. It's too much." And while City have now joined the ranks of European champions, Guardiola said they have a long way to go before they can be declared true European heavyweights. "We are now only 13 (Champions Leagues) behind Real Madrid," Guardiola, who was applauded in and out of the press conference, joked.
"If you they sleep a little we can catch them. "Some teams disappear after winning the Champions League, so we have to avoid that. But now you can stop asking me about the Champions League."