KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Bayern Munich’s experience against Paris Saint-Germain’s ambition presented a captivating prospect but only one goal in the Lisbon climax of the UEFA Champions League – Kingsley Coman headed the Germans’ winner against his old club just before the hour.
The German champions had dominated the competition in the mid-1970s but had not laid hands on the trophy since landing their fifth triumph in 2013 while PSG, financial by the Gulf state of Qatar, had never even reached the final. Indeed, the last and only previous French winners were Marseille back in 1993. The wait must go on.
The duel in the Estadio do Benfica brought to a close the Final Eight tournament which European federation UEFA had clamped on to the end of the extra-long season which had been interrupted and very nearly wrecked by the tragic havoc of the Covid-19 pandemic which had brought the continent’s football to a halt for three months in late spring.
This should have been May 30 in Istanbul on May 30 rather than a latest-ever August 23 in the Estadio do Benfica. No Spanish or English or Italian club in sight: only a Franco-German duel with both clubs coached by Germans in PSG’s Thomas Tuchel and Bayern’s Hansi Flick.
Bayern’s goal tally for the season was 158 compared with 136 for PSG and the Germans had also won all of their last 20 games. They were favourites but not by much considering the individual brilliance of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
All the expectations of entertainment were dampended in a tight first half which ended without goals and with few openings against the busy pressing in all corner of the pitch.
Neymar wasted the first opening after bursting through in the 17th minute only to see his low shot blocked by the body of Manuel Neuer. Bayern’s response, four minutes later, saw Robert Lewandowski jab a shot against Keylor Navas’s right-hand post.
Bayern suffered a blow when Jerome Boateng, playing after a fitness test, had to be replaced by Niklas Sule. They also collected the first yellow card when Alphonso Davies was booked by Italian referee Daniele Orsato for bringing down Thilo Kehrer.
Lewandowski, with 15 goals to his credit in Bayern’s campaign, had a close-range header saved at second attempt by Navas. That sparked further danger signs at both ends.
PSG could have reached the interval one-up after an awful defensive blunder by but Mbappe’s weak shot, with the goal at his mercy, was gratefully grabbed by Neuer. Bayern, on the counter, claimed a penalty in vain after Kinsgley Coman fell to an arm on his shoulder from a despairing Kehrer.
Coman was the most dangerous Bayern forward, having been a surprise selection on the left wing in place of Ivan Perisis.
To prove the point he headed the only goal against his old club in the 59th-minute from Joshua Kimmich’s perfectly-judged right-wing cross.
The last halfhour was scrappy which suited Bayern perfectly as PSG failed ever to put their big-match game together. Neymar pulled one cross-shot wide but they looked slower in thought and action and Bayern deserved the prize.
Paris S-G: Navas – Kehrer, Thiago Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat – Herrera, Marquinhos, Paredes – Di María, Neymar, Mbappé. Coach: Tuchel.
Bayern: Neuer – Kimmich, Boateng, Alaba, Davies – Goretzka, Thiago Alcantara – Gnabry, Müller, Coman – Lewandowski. Coach: Flick.
Attendance: — (closed doors). Ref: Orsato (It).