Bayern Munich became kings of Europe for the sixth time on Sunday as Kingsley Coman’s goal gave them a 1-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the 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, but chances too, especially before former PSG player 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.
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, but it is an extraordinary success for Hansi Flick, who was only appointed last November to replace the sacked Niko Kovac.
“I am proud of the team. When I started in November, all the headlines were about ‘no more respect for Bayern’, but the way the team has developed has been sensational,” he told Sky Germany.
“PSG have really good forwards, but we deserved to win the final.”
However, the outcome might have been different had Kylian Mbappe done better than shoot straight at Manuel Neuer just before half-time.
The 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, winners in 1993.
“We gave all our heart on the field. You can expect that from your team, but you can’t control the result,” PSG coach Thomas Tuchel told French broadcaster RMC.
The one that got away
PSG’s Qatari owners spent a combined 402 million euros ($474m) on Neymar and Mbappe in 2017 to win this competition. Yet in the end it was one who got away from Paris who denied them.
Coman was born in Paris and started his career at PSG, but left aged 18 in 2014 for Juventus, sensing he wouldn’t get regular football if he stayed put.
“It is an extraordinary feeling. I’m so happy but I’m also a bit sad for Paris,” Coman said.
The winger had been on the bench in the semi-final against Lyon but was promoted to the starting line-up for the final.
Now he may not be welcome back in his home city again.
Bayern were last European champions in 2013. Their tally of six victories puts them back level with Liverpool, winners last year. Only Real Madrid and AC Milan have won more.
Not Neymar’s night
Flick’s team ended the season with 21 straight wins and are unbeaten in 30 matches. They deserved to be crowned in a full stadium.
However, only a few hundred invitees were inside Benfica’s ground 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 the traditional German powerhouse and PSG transformed by the Qatari takeover of 2011.
But on and off the pitch right now they are almost perfectly balanced, and that translated into the kind of proper match-up on the field that neither side often experiences these days.
Bayern almost opened the scoring midway through the first half when Lewandowski – looking for his 56th goal of the season – turned and shot against the post.
He also came close with a header that was saved by Keylor Navas, but PSG should have punished them at the other end in the first half.
Neymar was denied by Neuer after being set up by Mbappe, while Mbappe contrived to fire straight at the goalkeeper after David Alaba gifted him possession in the box.
Alaba earlier saw his central defensive colleague, Jerome Boateng, limp out injured. The giant Niklas Suele replaced him and helped contain the Paris attack as Bayern saw out their lead.
They 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 from the left to head in Kimmich’s delivery.
Neymar ended the game with a yellow card for chopping down Lewandowski, and a runners-up medal, while Bayern celebrated.