• Peter Burtnett

Bayern Munich outlast PSG in tense Champions League final


Bayern Munich players celebrate as captain Manuel Neuer lifts the Champions League trophy [Manu Fernandez/Pool via Reuters]

A header from a former PSG player was enough for Bayern Munich to defeat the French side 1-0 in the UEFA Champions League Final held in Lisbon, Portugal.

The German side dominated possession throughout the match (62 percent), but the first real chance of the game came in the 14th minute, when Kylian Mbappe had just Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to beat to give PSG an early lead. However, when Mbappe attempted to put the ball through Neuer's legs into the back of the net, Neuer's leg clipped the ball and kept the match scoreless.

Eight minutes later, Robert Lewandowski brought down a crisp Alfonso Davies cross, made a quick turn and roughly took a shot on target. Contrary to his 15 goals in the previous ten Champions League matches in 2019-20, Lewandowski hit the left post.

With a solid opportunity for both teams now off the mark, the two teams exchanged a beautifully played, back-and-forth half of football, but neither team was able to find the back of the net. Bayern seemed to hold a slight advantage, but the Parisian side kept themselves in the match. Although the game ended just 1-0, the control of the game grew for Bayern.

A questionable no-call on a potential penalty near the end of the half garnered attention from CBS Sports' halftime coverage, but it didn't seem to be an egregious mistake.

After a feisty exchange mainly between Bayern's Serge Gnabry and PSG's Leandro Paredes in the 52nd minute that led to yellow cards for both, the match still looked even and was starting to get more tense and physical as both teams drew closer to crunch time.

Seven minutes after the double-yellow, Bayern's Frenchmen Kingsley Coman closed his eyes and headed a Joshua Kimmich cross into the bottom right corner as the first and only goal of the match put Coman's former team into a hole that they couldn't quite crawl out of.

The rest of the half went smoothly enough for Bayern, as PSG's only real chances came on either an offside call and a flick by Neymar pushed to the right of the net, summarizing what was a really struggle of a match from the Brazilian. A late no-call penalty against Bayern once again seemed to be worthy of a check by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), but no check was made and Bayern's advantage stayed at just 1-0.

Both teams were called for 4 yellow cards, took 4 corner kicks, and were called for offside at least once (PSG twice). But Bayern held the advantage with 12 shots to PSG's 10, and Neuer out-saved Keylor Navas 3-1, which was enough to keep Bayern ahead and give the German side their sixth Champions League title.

In what was a dominating treble winning season (Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League), Bayern won each of their 11 Champions League matches, outscoring their opponents 43-8 in Europe's top competition.

Moving forward from a visibly difficult loss for PSG, the emotions from Neymar were clear after the matches, as he was in tears, consoled by teammate Mbappe and Bayern's David Alaba. PSG now has the motivation that comes from receiving the runners-up medal and seeing the opposing team receive their winner's medal, but can they break through to win next year's Champions League for the first time?

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