Thomas Tuchel outwits Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola to set stage for Kai Havertz to deliver Champions League glory for Chelsea

Mason Mount claimed Chelsea could now call themselves the best team in the world, and head coach Thomas Tuchel hopes his tactical masterclass will earn him a new contract after the Blues’ dominant 1-0 win over Manchester City in the all-English Champions League final in Porto on Saturday night.

Chelsea turned a season of turmoil into the ultimate triumph as Kai Havertz’s ice-cool finish sunk City.

Mount’s inch-perfect assist stunned domestic double-winners City at the Estadio do Dragao, as Chelsea claimed their second Champions League title to etch boss Tuchel’s name into the Stamford Bridge annals.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Kevin De Bruyne suffered a facial injury on a wretched night for the stellar Belgium star, who will be an immediate injury doubt for the European Championships.

Chelsea's Kai Havertz celebrates with the trophy after winning the Champions League final soccer match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Dragao Stadium in Porto. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, Pool)

Pep Guardiola fielded a surprise pivotless midfield in a bid to catch out Tuchel and the Blues, but the move backfired and City paid the toughest price.

When Chelsea paid Bayer Leverkusen £70m for Havertz last summer eyebrows were raised in some quarters, but Chelsea were convinced of the 21-year-old’s pure talent.

And now the classy forward has ended a testing campaign that included a battle with Covid-19 with a goal of the utmost quality – on the highest stage and at the perfect time.

In just 124 days Tuchel has transformed Frank Lampard’s muddled men into mean tactical machines – and now champions of Europe.

Manchester City's head coach Pep Guardiola reacts after the Champions League final. (David Ramos/Pool via AP)

Guardiola has spent five years honing City for European dominance, but that frustrating wait goes on.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss last won the Champions League in 2011, the year before Chelsea’s first European triumph.

Guardiola will keep grinding, but Tuchel has quickly built up something of an Indian sign over City’s Catalan coach.

Chelsea’s third win over City in six weeks clearly ranks most highly, but also cements Tuchel’s arrival as a genuine tactical master.

Chelsea's head coach Thomas Tuchel celebrates kissing the trophy. (Susana Vera/Pool via AP)

The 47-year-old arrived from Paris St Germain in January with a fiery reputation, but has reinvented himself as a taskmaster with a joyful spirit and a tendency to tease the best from his players.

Tuchel insisted he did not fear the brevity of his 18-month contract on his arrival at Chelsea and on Saturday night revealed he enjoyed the “best moment” to meet owner Roman Abramovich for the first time – on the Estadio do Dragao pitch.

Now the former Paris St Germain manager hopes to extend his Stamford Bridge terms, and admitted he will “demand” to be a part of driving Chelsea onwards.

Asked whether he will be able to wrap up a new deal, Tuchel replied: “I’m not even 100 per cent sure, but maybe I have a new contract now.

“So let’s check this first. I spoke to the owner right now on the pitch, this was the best moment for a first meeting. Or the worst, because from now on it can only get worse!

“I can assure him that I will stay hungry, that I want the next title and I feel absolutely happy, as a part of a really ambitious club, a strong part of a strong group.”

Just as in Munich nine years ago, so now Chelsea had to battle for Champions League glory the hard way.

For that breakthrough triumph in 2012, Andre Villas-Boas had to fall on his sword before Roberto Di Matteo could oversee a stunning penalties victory over Bayern Munich. Jump forward all but a decade, and again the Blues are champions of Europe – in another season where two men have taken the Stamford Bridge helm.

Former boss Lampard will sit back somewhere with a wry smile at events, doubtless delighted for his club – but also surely with regrets not to be in the dugout.

Lampard failed to blend the £220million-worth of summer transfer talent though, and paid with his job in January.

And so in came Tuchel, the demanding and discerning German, on a clear brief to generate immediate results. The spectacular transformation has owed as much to sharp tactical acumen as shrewd people management.

Any fears of a tight affair were immediately dispelled in an open first half that gave way to a rigid Chelsea performance in the second. Timo Werner missed two sitters before Havertz raced on to Mount’s defence-splitting ball, rounded Ederson and scored.

Christian Pulisic had a golden chance to cement Chelsea’s advantage when played in by Havertz, only to scythe his dinked effort well wide.

Mount gushed at the end: “At this moment in time, we’re the best team in the world and you can’t take that away from us.”

It was just not City’s night. Even when Guardiola threw on Fernandinho to anchor midfield and unleashed strikers Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero they could still barely muster a shot on target.

Guardiola defended selecting Ilkay Gundogan as a holding midfielder, despite the switch causing his side clear problems.

He said: “I did my best in the selection. I made the best selection to win the game, the players know it. I think Gundogan played well.

“I would like to say it was an exceptional, exceptional season for us. It is a big dream being here, but unfortunately we couldn’t win. We tried, we could not do it, and we will work to come back one day.”

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you’ll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click HERE to subscribe.