N’Golo Kante was the star of the show as Chelsea beat Manchester City 1-0 on Saturday night to win the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League.
The contest at Estadio Do Dragao in Porto was off to a lively start with both Chelsea and Manchester City conjuring up some decent early chances. But Timo Werner missed a couple of opportunities while at the other end, Raheem Sterling’s control let him down whereas Phil Foden was denied by a stunning last-ditch tackle by Antonio Rudiger.
Chelsea, though, continued to pose a threat with their swift counters from the left-side channel and one such move paid off when Kai Havertz rounded Ederson and put the ball into an empty net to put the Blues in front. The second half pretty much followed the same routine with City not quite being able to carve out clear-cut chances while Chelsea looked dangerous on the break.
With Pep Guardiola & co. pushing in search of a leveler, gaps were left behind, and substitute Christian Pulisic should have made it 2-0 for Chelsea but fired his shot wide. Nevertheless, Thomas Tuchel’s men defended bravely and kept their shape and discipline to snuff out the Premier League champions, on the way to being crowned the champions of Europe.
It was Chelsea’s second UEFA Champions League triumph, having last won it in the 2011/12 season while Manchester City’s pursuit of a first European silverware continues. Here are our player ratings for both sets of players after what was an engrossing 90 minutes of action in Portugal.
Brilliant early long pass to set Sterling through for a chance but the Englishman failed to capitalise. Made a straightforward stop to deny Werner soon after. A bit rash for the goal as he charged out and was beaten all ends up, although he was left brutally exposed by his defence.
Kyle Walker: 5/10
There were times when he used his pace to make sharp forward forays and while he did make a couple of solid recovery runs, Walker wasn’t always comfortable in defence with Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount doubling up on him on occasions.
John Stones: 4/10
Having enjoyed a stunning season so far, the Englishman crumbled on the big occasion. Looked rattled by Werner’s speed and gave away the ball cheaply twice early on leading to chances. Got caught in no man’s land for the goal, which dragged the entire City backline out of position. Slightly better as the game wore on but poor in general.
Mason Mount went straight over to console John Stones after the full time whistle.
Class act 👏 pic.twitter.com/UhJANJCtR4
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) May 29, 2021
Ruben Dias: 5/10
One of the signings of the season, Dias had a forgettable on his return to his homeland. Made a good intervention on N’Golo Kante early on and looked up for it but had troubles against the movement and pace of Werner and Havertz at times. Dragged out of position by the former for the goal. Tried to rally the troops after Chelsea went up but to no avail.
Oleksandr Zinchenko: 4/10
Preferred ahead of Joao Cancelo, the Ukrainian was also involved in the mishap leading to the goal as he was too slow to track Havertz’s run and just seemed to stop after running back a few paces. Drifted into midfield when City were in possession but that meant there were gaps left on his flank and Chelsea did well to exploit his defensive vulnerabilities on the night.
Ilkay Gundogan: 4/10
An injury doubt leading up to the game after picking up a niggle, Gundogan slotted in as the defensive midfielder as Guardiola unbelievably opted to go in without Fernandinho or Rodri. And the move came back to haunt City as he was constantly and quite easily overrun by Chelsea. Nowhere to be seen in the buildup to the goal.
Pep Guardiola has defended his team selection 👀
"I did the selection best to win the game, the players know it.
"I think Gundogan played good, he was exceptional." pic.twitter.com/I8HSLE0wiU
— Goal (@goal) May 30, 2021
Bernardo Silva: 5/10
Worked tirelessly off the ball and was decent when in possession but the Portuguese international couldn’t really create anything of note going forward. Made way for Fernandinho in the second half.
Phil Foden: 6/10
Playing the biggest match of his burgeoning career, the 21-year-old looked City’s greatest threat going forward. Made some positive runs forward, showed quality on the ball and almost scored in the first half, with Rudiger denying him with a stunning challenge.
Riyad Mahrez: 5/10
Played in a couple of dangerous passes but was largely kept quiet by the excellent Chilwell, who stuck tight to him and deprived him of any space to carve out any openings. Saw a late effort fizz close.
Kevin De Bruyne: 4/10
Kevin De Bruyne says he doesn’t even remember Chelsea winning Champions League.
He surely does now pic.twitter.com/G9nOLm3Mx1
— Champions of Europe (@Cfc_Franz) May 30, 2021
The Player to Watch in our match preview, De Bruyne started as the false nine for Manchester City and struggled to influence the game. Chelsea did very well to deny him space, which meant he hardly posed a threat. Was on the receiving end of a nasty bodycheck from Rudiger which left him with an eye injury. Taken off with tears in his eyes.
Raheem Sterling: 4/10
Inexplicable selection from Guardiola, this one. Sterling hadn’t been a regular starter in a while now and has looked well below his best. But was given the nod on the left and the gamble did not pay off at all. Made one early run when he got past Reece James to get on the end of Ederson’s pass but touch let him down. Struggled to get past the Chelsea man for the rest of the game. Poor end product, lack of goal threat, his selection backfired.
— CryptoChief 🚀👑 (@Jsjwnns1) May 29, 2021
Gabriel Jesus: 5/10
On for the injured De Bruyne in the 59th minute. Ran hard but couldn’t sway the fortunes of his team.
Replaced Silva in the 64th minute. Made a few strong challenges, offered City a bit more control but it was all a little too late.
Sergio Aguero: N/A
Came on in place of Sterling in the 77th minute. No fairytale ending for the Manchester City legend.
Edouard Mendy: 6/10
Did not have to make a single major save on the night, such was the performance of the defence in front of him. But showed good command in his box to collect crosses. Quick launch to Chilwell in the buildup to the goal.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 8/10
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 29, 2021
Mr. Chelsea. Typified the entire team with his performance. Rock solid and rugged at the back, the Blues’ skipper did little get past him, making crucial interventions throughout, none more so than the clearance from a Mahrez cross which would have led to a tap-in for Gundogan. Strong in his duels, composed and disciplined at the back.
Thiago Silva: 6/10
Started out in typically solid manner but had to be withdrawn close to half-time due to a groin injury.
Antonio Rudiger: 8/10
From being overlooked under Frank Lampard to putting in a starring display in the Champions League final, it has been quite a turnaround for Rudiger this season. Set the tone with his stunning last-ditch tackle to deny Foden a certain goal in the first half and made such crucial, strong challenges throughout. Nasty collision with De Bruyne left the Belgian injured. Dominated whoever came in his path.
Reece James: 8.5/10
Reece James made more tackles (7) and more clearances (5) than any other player on the pitch in the #UCLFinal.
Time to talk about that right-back spot for England…. pic.twitter.com/GKH8ASjrA3
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 29, 2021
After one early blip when Sterling got past him, the young Englishman stepped up in imperious manner, completely negating the influence of the City winger. Kept pace with him quite easily, did not let anything get past him, as he made seven tackles and five clearances – both being the most by any player on the night and wasn’t shy of getting forward either.
N’Golo Kante: 9/10
2014. Debut in Ligue1 with Caen.
2015. Joins Leicester for €9m.
2016. Premier League winner with Leicester.
2017. Premier League winner with Chelsea.
2018. World Cup winner with France.
2019. Europa League winner with Chelsea.
2021. UCL winner with Chelsea.
N’GOLO KANTÉ. pic.twitter.com/OUkEgsynkD
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 29, 2021
Surely they ought to build him a statue outside Stamford Bridge. Another big game, another big performance. What a player! Reads the game so brilliantly and pops up at the right place at the right time to nip attacks in the bud. Did a fine job of quelling De Bruyne’s threat while he also drove forward with purpose when on the ball, sparking counters.
Won possession back ten times with a couple of tackles on De Bruyne being standout moments. Also won four aerial duels – the most by any Chelsea player despite being the shortest man on the pitch, along with playing one key pass and completing two dribbles. Simply superb.
N'Golo Kanté's #UCLFinal game by numbers for Chelsea:
85% passing accuracy
11 duels won (most)
10 ball recoveries (most)
4 aerials won (!)
2 touches in the opp. box
2 fouls won
One of the great UCL Final performances. 👏 pic.twitter.com/dukI1LEL5d
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 29, 2021
Not omnipresent like his partner, but Jorginho did what was asked of him and did it really well. Helped Chelsea overpower Gundogan in midfield, was alert defensively and progressive with his passes. A solid job.
Ben Chilwell: 8.5/10
Looked Chelsea’s brightest outlet going forward as he constantly found spaces on the left and made the most of it. Involved in the buildup to the goal and was solid in his defensive duties as well, keeping Mahrez quiet to a large extent. Two tackles, four clearances, one interception and one key pass for the England international.
Kai Havertz: 9/10
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) May 29, 2021
Ran Manchester City ragged on the break with his movement and strength causing a great deal of problems. Created a fine chance for Werner early in the game and then scored the only goal of the game after making a fine run before showing great composure to put the ball into the net. Ran himself into the ground when not in possession as he did the job defensively as well, making three tackles and two interceptions to go along with his two dribbles and one key pass.
Mason Mount: 8/10
With no recognised holding midfielder on the pitch, Chelsea’s Player of the Year thrived on the night, constantly finding himself in pockets of spaces between the defence and midfield, wreaking havoc with his movement and passing. Lovely pass to set Havertz up for the only goal of the game. Played a game-high three key passes, made two interceptions as well.
Timo Werner: 6/10
Timo Werner’s “difficult first season”:
🏆 Champions League winner
🥈 FA Cup finalist
4️⃣ Top 4 finish
⚽️ Chelsea’s joint top scorer
🎯 Chelsea’s top assister
He needs to be sharper in front of goal next season, but 20/21 hasn’t exactly been a disaster. 😅 pic.twitter.com/GW9TcB3lf3
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) May 29, 2021
Such a puzzling player. Posed a huge threat with his pace and movement, leaving John Stones pretty much scarred with his running early on. As good as he was with his movement, he was equally bad with his finishing, squandering three promising chances. Nevertheless, made a brilliant run to drag Ruben Dias away leading to the goal and continued to keep working the channels hard until being taken off.
Andreas Christensen: 8/10
On for the injured Silva in the first half. Continued his recent good form, with some steady and assured defending. Wasn’t afraid to put his body on the line as he made a couple of crucial blocks late in the game.
Christian Pulisic: 5/10
On for Werner in the 66th minute. Should have made it 2-0 but fired his effort wide.
Mateo Kovacic: N/A
Replaced Mount for the final ten minutes. Did his bit in helping Chelsea preserve their lead.