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Soccer-Man City triumph was written in the stars, says Guardiola


By Martyn Herman

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Manchester City’s Champions League final victory over Inter Milan was “written in the stars”, manager Pep Guardiola said after his side completed the treble on Saturday.

The 52-year-old Spaniard completed his collection at City as compatriot Rodri fired home the only goal in the 68th minute for a hard-fought 1-0 victory against the dogged Italians.

He has now emulated Alex Ferguson whose Manchester United side also swept to a Premier League/FA Cup/Champions League treble in 1999 and has delivered 12 major trophies for City.

Not only that, but he is the first coach to win two trebles, having achieved the Spanish version as Barcelona manager in 2009, winning La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League.

Guardiola has now claimed three Champions League titles as a manager and only Carlo Ancelotti with four has won more.

But his side were made to suffer against an Inter outfit who threatened to extend City’s wait for the trophy that owner Sheikh Mansour has longed for since buying the club in 2008.

“Tired. Calm. Satisfied. It’s so difficult to win it,” said an emotional Guardiola after hugging every one of his players and the club’s hierarchy.

“Inter are really good. Be patient, I said at halftime. You have to be lucky. This competition is a coin toss.

“It was written in the stars. It belongs to us.”

Guardiola’s side, who arrived in the final with only one defeat in their last 27 games in all competitions, were far from their best, although credit must go to an Inter side who executed their game plan and disrupted City’s rhythm.

City also had to recover from the blow of losing chief playmaker Kevin De Bruyne to injury in the first half while Erling Haaland, scorer of 52 goals this season, was well shackled by Inter’s defence.

“We weren’t at our best level. After the World Cup the team made a step forward and we were there. It wasn’t our best performance,” Guardiola said.

City will be going for a fourth successive Premier League crown next season and will be one of the favourites to claim the Champions League again, having ended their long wait.

“I don’t have any energy to think about next season, it’s impossible. We need a break, it’s too long,” Guardiola said.

“Our players have international games now. UEFA and FIFA, think about it. The Premier League finished two or three weeks ago, now people have to come back. It’s too much. We will start from zero next season.”

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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