Bayern Munich won the European Cup for the sixth time on Sunday as Kingsley Coman’s goal gave them a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in an engrossing Champions League final in Lisbon, completing a fantastic season for the German giants and leaving their opponents still searching for the trophy they covet more than anything.
It was often a cagey final, with a bit of needle between the teams, but chances too, especially before Coman appeared at the back post to head in Joshua Kimmich’s inviting 59th-minute cross and wrap up a treble for a team who had already won the Bundesliga and German Cup.
Hansi Flick’s team will feel they deserved their victory, yet PSG will regret not taking any of the chances that were offered up to them on a surreal occasion at an empty Estadio da Luz.
Kylian Mbappe in particular should have done better than shoot straight at Manuel Neuer right on the stroke of half-time.
The France World Cup-winning forward had spoken of his determination to go down in his country’s history by helping PSG become just the second French winners of European football’s greatest prize.
But they will have to wait for the chance to match Marseille, who won the inaugural Champions League in 1993.
PSG’s Qatari owners spent a combined 402 million euros ($474m) on Neymar and Mbappe in 2017 to win this competition, not just reach the final. However, in the end, it was one who got away from Paris who denied them.
The 24-year-old Coman was born in Paris and started his career at PSG, only to leave in 2014 for Juventus, sensing he wouldn’t get the regular football he desired if he stayed put.
He had been on the bench in the semi-final against Lyon but was promoted to the starting line-up for the final, replacing Ivan Perisic on the left-wing.
Now he may not be welcome back in his home city again.
But at Bayern, he will always be remembered as the man who won them this trophy in 2020, in the club’s 11th final and seven years after they were last European champions.
– Mbappe’s big miss –
Flick’s team have ended this season with 21 straight victories and unbeaten in 30 matches. They deserved to be crowned in a full stadium.
However, only a few hundred lucky invitees were inside the cavernous home of Benfica to see the denouement of the ‘Final Eight’, at the end of a competition so long delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The strangest of finals pitted together two clubs who have taken very different routes to becoming part of Europe’s elite, with Bayern’s status as Germany’s most successful and powerful side long-established and PSG having left the rest of the French game behind following the Qatari takeover of 2011.
But if this was a mismatch in terms of history, on and off the pitch right now they are almost perfectly balanced.
That translated into the kind of proper match-up on the field that neither side often experiences these days.
Bayern came desperately close to opening the scoring midway through the first half when Lewandowski — looking for his 56th goal of the season — took down an Alphonso Davies cross, turned and struck a shot against the post.
The Pole also came close with a header that was saved by Keylor Navas, PSG’s goalkeeper who won the Champions League three times with Real Madrid and who was returning after injury ruled him out of the semi-final against RB Leipzig.
But Bayern take risks by playing with such a high line, and PSG should have punished them in the first half.
Neymar was denied by an excellent Neuer save after being set up by Mbappe, while Mbappe himself contrived to fire straight at the goalkeeper after David Alaba gited him the ball in the Bayern box.
Alaba had earlier seen his central defensive colleague, Jerome Boateng, limp out seemingly with a recurrence of the hamstring problem that forced him off against Lyon.
Niklas Suele replaced him and helped contain the Paris attack as Bayern held onto their lead.
Bayern had broken the deadlock just before the hour mark in a move that began with a sprayed Thiago Alcantara pass forward, and ended with Coman arriving to head in Kimmich’s perfect delivery.
Neymar ended the game with a yellow card for chopping down Lewandowski, and a runners-up medal, while Bayern celebrated.
Inter Milan Must Sweat To Show We Are Contenders, Says Conte
Inter Milan head coach, Antonio Conte, warned against complacency and urged his players to show they are credible Serie A title contenders ahead of Sunday’s home clash with relegation battlers Crotone.
Conte’s team, who finished as runners-up last season, cut the gap to league leaders AC Milan to just one point before the 10-day winter break, thanks to a run of seven straight league wins.
That form has put Inter firmly in the mix to end their 11-year wait for a league title, with defending champions Juventus languishing nine points behind them in sixth.
“We must confirm our place among the contenders,” Conte told a news conference.
“We don’t have to send any message, just be credible. We have the duty to fight until the end. When you’re at Inter, this is an obligation.
“It’s a balanced championship. You need to sweat to win every match and there are no easy games.
“In the end important values like hard work and organisation will stand out, things that make you excel and win.”
Inter are favourites to come out on top against Crotone, who are in 19th place having won just twice since being promoted from Serie B.
However, one of those victories came in Crotone’s last match before the break and Conte insisted he will not be underestimating the threat of the visitors.
“We’re expecting a demanding match, as I think they all are in Serie A,” he said.
“We’re facing a team that has been galvanised by finishing last year with a win against Parma.
“This match will require a lot of focus. Starting again after the holidays is always a great unknown, but we know the importance of continuing our positive streak.”
Pirlo Warns Juventus Players Never To Repeat Fiorentina Display
Juventus coach, Andrea Pirlo, has warned his players not to repeat the poor performance they produced during their shock 3-0 defeat against struggling Fiorentina in their last match before Serie A headed into its Christmas break.
The Italian champions, who face Udinese on Sunday, slumped to their first league defeat of the season against Fiorentina.
The result left Pirlo’s side 10 points adrift of league leaders AC Milan, albeit with a game in hand, putting their nine-year stranglehold of the Italian title at risk.
“We talked about the game against Fiorentina, we got it completely wrong,” the 41-year-old, who is in his first season as a manager, said.
“It was a good meeting and we discussed our future objectives. It was productive.
“I don’t want to see any more matches like the one with Fiorentina.
“We’ve otherwise made some progress and improved in many aspects, but I’m convinced it can be even better.”
Udinese also headed into the winter break following a 2-0 defeat to Benevento but Luca Gotti’s side were unbeaten in six league matches before then.
Hence Pirlo is not taking the challenge lightly.
“I’m expecting a difficult match, Udinese are on a good run of form and are a very well organised and physical team with players who are very good on the counter attack,” he said.
“The team is eager to redeem itself after the last defeat. We’ve got almost all our players back, so we’re setting out to restart the league season strongly.”
Kane, Son Doing ‘Special Things’ – Mourinho
Harry Kane and Son Heung-min are doing “special things” for Tottenham Hotspur this season, manager Jose Mourinho said.
This was following the dynamic duo both scoring in a 3-0 win over Leeds United that lifted Spurs to third in the Premier League on Saturday.
Kane gave his side the lead from the penalty spot — his 10th league goal of the season — then combined with Son who doubled Tottenham’s tally just before halftime.
It was Son’s 100th goal for Tottenham and the 13th time this season that the pair had combined for a league goal, equalling the whole season record set by Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton for Blackburn Rovers in 1994-95.
“I think in the Premier League there are many good players everywhere even in clubs where you don’t believe they can have great players,” Mourinho said.
“But I have to say that Sonny and Harry are doing special things this season.
“They are very good players as you know for many years.
“I want more goals, especially from other players but today the second goal is great, is also great because it was something we spoke about against a team that defends the way Leeds does.”
While the scoreline rather flattered Tottenham against a Leeds side who enjoyed 64% possession, it snapped a four-game winless sequence in the Premier League and sent Mourinho’s side back into the top four of the table.
They are in third spot with 29 points from 16 games, four behind joint-leaders Liverpool and Manchester United.
“Of course the result is important.
”We didn’t play the last match and the run of results in the least few weeks was not good so we needed these three points so we go up a little bit in the table,” Mourinho said.
Tottenham’s game in midweek was postponed after Fulham players tested positive for COVID-19.
This is a decision that Mourinho still find puzzling on the day that three of his own players were condemned for breaking the rules to attend a party.
“I go back to the initial rules of if you have 14 players available you have to play,” Mourinho said.
“I don’t see another reason for not doing it. I think every club does the best for their players to keep them all safe but then there are moments in private lives which you cannot control.
“Not everyone can be blamed so we have to carry on. If somebody has some positives, we have to play.”
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