In an all-English final, the UEFA Champions League trophy will go to London, not Manchester; to the men in royal blue, not sky blue; and to the club employing a young attacker from Hershey, Pa., who, with his second-half appearance, made U.S. soccer history.
On a night of high drama in a seaside Portuguese city, Kai Havertz, a 21-year-old German forward, scored late in the first half Saturday as Chelsea upset Manchester City, 1-0, to win its second European championship and deny its Premier League rivals its first.
The Porto setting also provided a stage for Christian Pulisic, who became the first U.S. men’s national team player to appear in club soccer’s biggest game. Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen, Pulisic’s U.S. teammate, did not play.
Pulisic, 22, entered in the 66th minute and almost scored moments later.
“I’m just so proud to be here,” Pulisic said after being joined on the field by his parents, Mark and Kelley, former soccer players at George Mason University, to pose with the trophy. “I couldn’t imagine winning the Champions League ever in my life, and now I’m here.”
Chelsea relived the glory of winning the 2012 title and stymied a Manchester City team in the final for the first time after a 10-year ascent. Although Manchester City had claimed the Premier League crown this month, Chelsea drew confidence from winning the previous two meetings.
Thomas Tuchel, who was appointed Chelsea’s manager in January amid a sluggish campaign, said the message to the team was this: “We need a top performance, and we need to be at our best level, but we don’t need a miracle. We don’t need a miracle! We can do it. It’s not like we need crazy things to happen.”- Washington Post