Real Madrid’s Champions League hoodoo was finally broken through the line of perfection.
It was relegated to the past, to lore, by the only team capable of banishing it, and by the club that had felt it so devastating before. Manchester City, after years of inexplicable failure, finally overthrew the kings of Europe on Wednesday and clinched a maiden continental title within 90 minutes.
City stormed past Madrid in a semi-final that ended 4-0 – and even that undermined the Cityzens’ dominance. They have, under Pep Guardiola for years, come closer to mastering modern football like no other; and on Wednesday at the Etihad Stadium, they came closer than ever before. With their clockwork movement and technical precision and controlled fire, they sent Real Madrid spinning in circles and pulling from side to side, until Madrid’s grip on the trophy possession loosened. And gradually, over 90 blinding minutes, the kings gave in.
The breakthrough came after 22 minutes of continuous pressure, thanks to Kevin de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva.
The confirmation – confirmation that this City team were just too good to fend off – came 14 minutes later, again courtesy of Silva.
Real Madrid later put a third in its own net, as if to succumb to genius, as if to admit, as if to admit that Manchester City at its peak is irresistible and unstoppable. Because it is, and on Wednesday it was.