English Premier League Champions Manchester City accomplished their season ambition of treble with pip to a 1-0 win over Inter Milan to claim for the first time Champions League title in Istanbul.
City’s coach pep Guardiola’s who has won eight league titles since last lifted the Champions League, three in Germany and five in England started the match defensively with his new found format of back four with Akanji playing from the wing back.
While Inter Milan who last won the cup under Jose Mourinho had Eden Dzeko leading the attack in a new template different from the traditional style associated with most Italian clubs. Smartly, Inter was able to curtail Manchester City’s possession play in early stages of the match, especially within the first 15 minutes of the first half.
Pep’s side obviously showed lack of fluency in later stages of the first half as danger man Erling Haaland was kept silent. Despite Pep’s demand for their free –drive style of play the space wasn’t created. Although, before the twilight of the first half City’s captain Ilkay Gundagon was brilliant leading from defense to support the midfield but Inter was equal to the task in the middle.
The first half ended goalless with neither side scoring. But what was missing was the free-flowing football associated with Guardiola’s style especially this season.
On resumption of the second half Inter played better in the early minutes, exhibiting hunger to score but City’s back four were brilliant despite lack of fluency in attack.
As the match progressed Manchester City found the opportunity for comparison with Manchester United’s treble in 1999 under Sir Alex Ferguson as Rudridelivered the much needed goal in the 68 minute through a needle space at the far left side of the goalkeeper. To defeat an intransigence that has been the journey of Inter Milan at the Europe elite league this season.
Manchester City lacked fluency, attempting only seven shots in the match which captain Ilkay Gundogan admitted ‘’We were not at our best’’. But they have found a way to win the game to be crown treble champions.
Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola’s defending structure using four centre -backs playing in one team has been superb of a style especially right wing back Akanji in his execution.