It was supposed to be the night when Pep Guardiola and his Manchester City team full of superstars finally get their hand on the prize they have been waiting for, the UEFA Champions League. Also, it was supposed to be the perfect send-off for their legend Sergio Aguero who had once said that he’d leave the club only after winning the coveted UCL title. But fate had other plans as Kai Havertz’s strike in the 42nd minute was enough to prolong the wait for the Blue Moon to Rise over Europe.
Pep Guardiola’s team had the ball early on but were not in control of the proceedings. Chelsea intercepted, broke through and had a clear plan. They always looked like the side who would taste blood first.
It would be wrong to say that the Cityzens never got the opportunity to score but they were denied by some desperate last-ditch defending by the Chelsea backline, especially the instance where Antonio Rudiger’s sliding interception denied a certain goal for Phil Foden.
Chelsea had their chances too, but Timo Werner’s form or the lack of it in front of the goal continued as he scoffed two good chances to put the Blues ahead.
Then came the moment in the 42nd minute for which the Chelsea fans all over the world was waiting. Mendy played the ball to Ben Chilwell who from the left flank passed the ball to Chelsea’s player of the year Mason Mount. The Englishman put forward a through ball which dissected Ilkay Gundogan and John Stones near the halfway line and fell straight on Havertz’s path who was running in between Zinchenko and Ruben Dias. Smelling danger, Ederson raced off his line and went for the ball near the edge of the penalty box but Havertz kept his composure and rounded the sliding Brazilian before rolling the ball into an empty net in front of a 16,500 crowd.
KAI HAVERTZ GOAL WINNING #UCLFinal pic.twitter.com/2IWJ4TlONp— CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE 🏆 (@pleschels) May 30, 2021
But this is not something new that Chelsea fans saw their team do against a Pep Guardiola-led team for the first time. A similar event happened in 2012 in the semifinal against Barcelona, which is still regarded as one of the best teams to ever play the beautiful game.
Just like this year, Chelsea were the underdogs then, their opponents were controlling the pace of the game nine years back as well. In 2012, it was Fernando Torres, their then costliest buy who rounded up Victor Valdes to score into an empty net.
Apart from these two instances, there were a few other similarities as well in Chelsea’s season:
1. Young inexperienced manager fired mid-season — Frank Lampard in 2021, Andre Villas-Boas in 2012.
2. Olivier Giroud becoming the 1st Chelsea player to score 6 goals in a UCL campaign since Didier Drogba in 2012.
3. Portuguese opposition in the quarterfinal — Benfica in 2012, Porto in 2021
4. Chelsea facing a Spanish opponent in the semifinal, Barcelona in 2012 and Real Madrid this year.
5. Edouard Mendy keeping more clean sheets in the UCL than any other Chelsea goalkeeper since Petr Cech in 2012.
6. Thomas Tuchel becoming the first Chelsea manager to win all 3 of his first UCL knockout games since Roberto Di Matteo in 2012
7. Mason Mount & Ben Chilwell becoming the first English players to score in the same UCL knockout game since John Terry & Lampard in 2012
9. Manchester City winning the Premier League both in 2012 and 2021
10. Manchester United finishing second in the Premier League
11. Antonio Conte winning the Serie A title, with Juve in 2012, and with Inter in 2021.
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