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Soccer-Man City hang tough to beat Inter and complete the treble

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By Martyn Herman

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Manchester City ended a sensational season by beating Inter Milan 1-0 to win the Champions League for the first time and complete the treble on a Saturday evening of frayed nerves.

Spanish midfielder Rodri’s 68th-minute goal settled a cagey game which a far-from-fluent City dominated without ever looking comfortable against the three-times winners from Italy at the Ataturk Stadium.

Inter almost levelled at the death when a point-blank header by substitute Romelu Lukaku was saved by Ederson.

But City, who lost in the final two years ago against Chelsea, would not be denied.

“Emotional. A dream come true. All these guys around here waited I don’t know how many years. They deserve, we deserve,” Rodri said.

In being crowned champions of Europe, they matched the treble achieved by Manchester United in 1999 of lifting the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League crowns.

City manager Pep Guardiola has now won the Champions League three times and took his trophy count with City to 12.

It was far from a fluent City performance, however, against a tireless Inter side who looked capable of causing a shock.

City were stifled in the first half and their fans were reduced to near silence at times as the nerves became frayed.

With Kevin de Bruyne off injured, City struggled to create chances and were wobbly at the back but in the end the ever-reliable Rodri came to the rescue.

For once Inter could not close down the spaces and Bernardo Silva’s cutback was swept home by the Spaniard.

Even then, City were forced to go to the wire at the end of long season with Lautaro Martinez hitting the bar for Inter and Lukaku denied by s superb Ederson save at the death.

NEAR-MISSES

In finally guiding Manchester City to the European crown they so cherished after a few gut-wrenching near misses since Sheikh Mansour bought the club in 2008, Guardiola became the first manager to achieve two trebles in European football, having done the Spanish equivalent with Barcelona in 2009.

He has won 12 trophies with City since taking charge in 2016 and with the Champions League jinx broken, any sense of inferiority City may have suffered to the established European royalty of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Liverpool has gone.

City still must defend themselves against more than 100 alleged breaches of Premier League financial regulations dating back to 2009, but that is for another day.

On Saturday alongside the Bosphorous, that was the last thing City’s joyous fans cared about as they celebrated the club’s first European trophy since the now defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1969–70.

Guardiola’s side fluffed their lines in Porto two years ago when losing to Chelsea in the Champions League final — a defeat partially blamed on Guardiola’s tactics.

This time he and his players delivered, although it was far from straightforward against the wily Italian side.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond)

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