LISBON, PORTUGAL – Kingsley Coman headed Bayern Munich to a 6th European Cup title on Sunday, scoring against boyhood club Paris Saint-Germain to seal a 1-0 victory in the first Champions League final to be played without fans.
While Bayern won its first final since 2013, PSG presently can’t seem to lift the European Cup notwithstanding more than $1 billion being spent on players in nine years.
More than $500 million was spent on Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria yet PSG looked a long way from considerable or undermining against the Bavarian giants who felt more guaranteed on European club football’s biggest stage.
As the costly front three were frustrated in front of goal, it was instead a winger who was born in Paris and started his career at PSG who inflicted the blow.
The 24-year-old Coman ghosted in at the far post unchecked by the PSG defence and was ready to meet a cross from Joshua Kimmich in the 59th minute.
It was Bayern’s 43rd goal of a perfect European campaign that has seen Bayern become the first team to win all 11 Champions League matches. It was also a historic day for star Bayern left-back Alphonso Davies. The 19-year-old from Edmonton became the youngest defender and first Canadian men’s player to win a Champions League title.
“When you win a title like this with brothers on the pitch,” Kimmich said, “that’s the maximum you can ask for.”
It capped an incredible transformation this season under Hansi Flick, who emerged from the shadows in November, with a promotion to the top coaching job with Bayern fourth in the Bundesliga.
The season is now over — three months later than planned due to the coronavirus pandemic pause in play — with Bayern treble winners just as it was in 2013.
The European Cup joins the Bundesliga trophy — won for an eighth successive season — and the German Cup.
Bayern joins deposed champion Liverpool as six-time champions of Europe, only behind AC Milan (seven) and Real Madrid (13). It was the first final to end 1-0 since Real Madrid beat Juventus in 1998 which was also the last final to feature teams who qualified as domestic champions.
But the singing PSG contingent around the directors’ box was silenced in a stadium that was largely empty due to coronavirus restrictions. And when the final whistle blew, Neymar was in tears, embraced by Bayern rival David Alaba.
“They were more clinical than us,” PSG midfielder Ander Herrera said. “When you play another top team in Europe if you don’t score they will.”
PSG’s footballing superstars were subdued at a final which lacked the usual pre-match entertainment from pop stars.
Not that PSG lacked chances to take the lead at a final that should have been played in Istanbul in May, rather than the Portuguese capital in late August when seasons usually begin not to end.
Only the presence of “Istanbul” on the match ball that Neymar struck at Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in the 18th was a reminder here of the pandemic-enforced change of location.
Neymar did spark the move that saw Herrera and Di Maria combine but the Argentine could only strike over.
And an interchange between Herrera and Mbappe before halftime ended with a weak shot from the French forward.
Perhaps the only surprise was that there was no 56th goal of the season by Bayern forward Robert Lewandowski.
For once his scoring contribution was not needed as this season like no other ended with a 21st successive win for Bayern as part of a 30-game unbeaten run.
Photo credit: PA