Livescore Thursday, April 25
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It took everything Manchester City had to at last gain the Champions League trophy that had eluded the club throughout the dozen years when such a thing was conceivable. Which was OK, though, because City have everything.

It seems myopic to discuss City’s treble — titles in the Premier League, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League — without mentioning the influence of the endless wealth of the club’s ownership and willingness to expend a fraction of that on assembling the greatest team in world football since the Messi-Iniesta-Xavi triumvirate at Barcelona that was, like this group, coached by Pep Guardiola.

There is every reason to believe in Guardiola’s genius, but it never hurts to have the majority of the best players on your side.

There is a curiosity to arguing this Manchester City is the best team in world soccer since the 2010-11 Barca side that also earned the European treble — first in La Liga with only two defeats and 96 points from 38 games, plus the Copa del Rey, and the Champions League — because one easy counter would be that it hasn’t always performed like the best recent Manchester City team.

MORE: Man City’s Champions League hero Rodri only scores big goals 

The 2017-18 version of Man City set Premier League records with 100 points and a plus-79 goal differential. The next year’s team managed 98 points and was plus-72 on goals. This 2022-23 team had to rally to pass Arsenal and seize the Premier League title with 89 points. Winning trophies is what matters, though, which is why Real Madrid’s 2016-17 team that won La Liga, Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup might dispute rival Barca as the recent standard for elite soccer clubs.

And this City group at last has them all, too.

“We’ve been working so hard to get this, and finally, today, we got what we deserve. We made history,” midfielder Bernardo Silva told CBS Sports. “I’m so, so happy. I think it’s, by far, the best day of my career. I’ve always dreamt of winning this competition, so now I’m going to touch that cup.”

Guardiola began the evening at Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul with Belgian superstar Kevin De Bruyne at the center of his attack, and it seemed potentially debilitating when De Bruyne dropped to the turf midway through the first half after briefly tugging at his hamstring. It was obvious he would not continue for long; it might have ruined nearly any other team to lose such a player in such a game.

MORE: Breaking down the numbers from the 2023 Champions League final

It was scarcely a worry for Guardiola. He had young Phil Foden in reserve: a starter for City in 29 games this season, owner of 23 England caps including starts at Euro 2021 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup, valued at $118 million by Transfermarkt.com, the second-highest estimate for any player on the squad.

And, of course, Foden was terrific.

He was indispensable on the play that injected some sense of life into this previously barren affair and ultimately delivered the trophy to City. After FA Cup hero Ilkay Gundogan heroically rescued the ball from escaping over the end line and sent it back into play, Foden carried it briefly toward midfield and presented it to teammate Manuel Akanji, who drove City forward once again. The ball wound up available to Rodri — and no one else for either side — and he smashed it from 16 yards into the back of the net.

There nearly was a half-hour still to play, and there were some harrowing moments for City contained in that period, but when it was completed they had achieved something no one had managed since the turn of the century, and which only intracity rival Manchester United had done, ever. In 1999, United claimed its treble with one of the most dramatic comebacks in the history of the Champions League final. City didn’t manage quite the spectacle, but there was plenty of drama considering how long it took for the club to reach this most exalted goal.

MORE: The Romelu Lukaku fails that cost Inter Milan dearly vs. Man City

City has dominated England’s Premier League and Cup competitions since their purchase by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan. They’ve won the league seven times in the past 12 years, earned three FA Cup victories and six League Cups.

They were mostly victims in the Champions League, though, with two departures after the group stage, three following the round of 16 and three after the quarterfinals. The closest they came to winning, previously, was a 1-0 defeat against Chelsea in the 2021 final.

FARRELL: Guardiola’s Champions League torment finally comes to an end

But in 2023, City were the most overwhelming favorite to win a Champions League final in the nearly two decades for which records are available. Still, Inter did not make it easy to win this, mostly limiting the opposition to meager scoring chances, but they fumbled some significant opportunities and ought to have done better – particularly midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu, a spectator throughout – on the sequence that produced Rodri’s goal.

Even on a day when scoring sensation Erling Haaland was reduced to not much more than a decoy or decoration, though, City had far too much for Inter – or anyone else.

“It’s the second time in England that someone did this,” Bernardo Silva said. “And we’re so, so happy. It’s so tough to do what we did. I’m devastated. I cannot even talk, I’m so tired after this season, mentally and physically. But it was worth it.”

He played 3,608 minutes in 55 games along this arduous road. City won nearly all of them. Victory can be as exhausting as defeat, but this brand of exhaustion feels so much richer.



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