23, August 2020
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.