Manchester City’s long quest to win the Champions League finally ended in triumph against Inter Milan in Istanbul as Pep Guardiola’s side completed the Treble.
After winning the Premier League and FA Cup, City emulated Manchester United’s triple trophy haul in 1999 as they became only the second English club to achieve the feat after Rodri’s crisp 68th-minute strike settled an attritional final.
Guardiola’s all-conquering side were never at their best against a brilliantly organised Inter and had to cope with the loss of Kevin de Bruyne to injury in the first half.
But the massed ranks of City fans inside Ataturk Stadium did not care about that as they joyously celebrated the greatest night – and season – in the club’s history.
And for Guardiola, it seals his status as one of the managerial greats as he added a third Champions League to the two he won at Barcelona, the last coming in 2011.
This was never the walkover many predicted and City had to survive a few scares when Federico Dimarco’s header bounced off the bar and Ederson made a stunning late save to deny Romelu Lukaku but ultimately this was all about the victory.
Now Guardiola and his players can take their place in history.
Guardiola & Man City claim holy grail
The Champions League has brought suffering to City and Guardiola – especially when they lost to Premier League rivals Chelsea in the 2021 final – but all the pain disappeared just before midnight on a sultry night in Istanbul.
City survived late anxiety, especially when Inter substitute Lukaku headed straight at Ederson with the goal at his mercy, but there was an explosion of joy on the pitch and in the stands at Ataturk Stadium as they finally secured the giant trophy that has remained so elusively beyond their grasp for so long.
Guardiola said, whether it was fair or not, that his time at Manchester City would be judged on whether he was able to bring the Champions League to the club. Now that judgement can be made.
The Catalan, who won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011, will now be an iconic figure at City as well as Barcelona.
It is a simple fact that many outside the Abu Dhabi-owned club will always view their triumph through the prism of the charges of 115 financial breaches brought against them by the Premier League, charges they fiercely deny.
For City’s owners, with Sheikh Mansour attending only his second game since taking control in 2008, this was the night they have planned for and the one when they finally claimed that holy grail.
Man City grind out greatest night
This was an evening when only the result mattered to City, not the manner in which their greatest victory was achieved.
This was not a win secured with the dazzling style and creation that is usually their hallmark. In fact for long periods it was a scrappy, sloppy performance in the face of a well-drilled Inter side who were right in this Champions League Final until the whistle went.
None of that will matter now. All that will be recalled forever about this game by City’s fans was the moment when Rodri arrived on the end of build-up play from Manuel Akanji and Bernardo Silva to send that precise right-foot finish away from the reach of Inter’s outstanding keeper Andre Onana.
And of course the triumphant Champions League trophy lift.
City lived dangerously in the closing minutes and, when it was all over, Guardiola, so agitated in his technical area, was relatively calm as he sought out opposite number Simone Inzaghi for consoling words.
John Stones was once again outstanding for City while keeper Ederson made key contributions when required.
The celebrations at the final whistle reflected a magnificent season as City finally got their hands on the Champions League trophy and prepared to parade it around the streets of Manchester along with the Premier League and FA Cup on Monday.