In Istanbul expectations go out the window.

Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Manchester City were heavy favourites in the build-up to the Champions League final with Inter Milan written off as little more than participants in some quarters.

The script had already been written by those in Sky Blue with Erling Haaland seemingly destined to score a winner – no doubt assisted by Kevin De Bruyne.

The only problem? Inter Milan had come to play with a Treble anything but easy for City.

It’s happened before in Istanbul when Liverpool rose from the dead to claim the Champions League final in 2005 against all odds in the final dubbed ‘The Miracle of Istanbul’.

Those of a Manchester City persuasion were desperately hoping the unlikely wouldn’t become the reality again.

There were eery similarities between Liverpool’s 2005 triumph over AC Milan and the feeling at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium last night.

Two sides playing their first competitive fixture in the grandest fixture of them all, a battle between an English and Italian club; the only difference, a distinct lack of goals.

In Istanbul in 2023 the narrative was wholly different.

Guardiola’s men marched on Turkey with the Premier League title and FA Cup in their back pocket and a Treble dream – including a European title - to become the 10th club to achieve the feat.

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After five minutes, they were nearly a goal to the good. Bernardo Silva was afforded acres of space on the right flank to drive into the box and curl goalwards only to be denied by the crossbar.

The early flurry quickly settled Inter and unusually unsettled Manchester City with Guardiola ironically barking instructions to relax to his frantic charges in the first half.

On 27 minutes Haaland had his chance. A clever through ball from De Bruyne set the rampaging striker clear but his powerful low drive was beaten clear by Andre Onana.

Three minutes later, it looked like the tide was turning against City as De Bruyne appeared to suffer a hamstring problem. On 36 minutes, he was cruelly forced off just two years on after limping off against Chelsea in the Champions League final.

In an edgy first-half dominated by tactical tweaks and a distinct lack of clear goalscoring opportunities a wild Manuel Akanji shot over the bar from close range summed up proceedings.

Inter Milan were resolute and were always going to get their chance even with seriously limited opportunities on the ball. Just before the hourmark, a huge chance arrived.

Silva passed back towards goal for Akanji but the defender inexplicably left the ball allowing Lautaro Martinez to latch onto the ball and drive at goal but he was denied an opener against the run of play by an onrushing Ederson. It was a massive moment, and Inter Milan would pay for the miss.

Just ten minutes later, Manchester City would break the deadlock. Akanji played Silva through and his deflected cross rolled out for Rodri who calmly curled past a packed penalty box to spark chaotic scenes in the Man City technical area and fan allocations alike.

In another glaring similarity to Liverpool’s triumph in Istanbul, the goal came at the same end as the six in that final against AC Milan.

Two minutes later, Inter should have restored parity. Denzel Dumfries headed into the box for Federico Dimarco who looped his header off the bar. The chance wasn’t gone as the rebound fell for Dimarco but at the second attempt he could only head off the foot of team-mate Romelu Lukaku yards from the goal-line.

City threatened to kill the match after 77 minutes when a moment of magic from Phil Foden saw the creative midfielder spin his defender and drive into the box but lose his composure to send a weak shot into Onana’s clutches.

Inter Milan weren’t out of it though, and only two jaw-dropping stops from Ederson would deny extra-time.

Robin Gosens headed across goal for Lukaku just yards out with the goal gaping but he somehow passed up on another golden opportunity. The Belgian striker headed into the ground but Ederson shuffled across his line to deflect clear with his left leg before Ruben Dias smartly turned behind goal to deny a tap-in.

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At this point, Inter Milan were throwing everything at it with boss Simone Inzaghi urging keeper Onana forward for a final throw of the dice deep into the five minutes of stoppage time.

It was then Ederson would have his Jerzy Dudek moment as he made possibly the most famous save in the club’s history. Gosens again threatened with his aerial prowess as he flicked towards goal from a corner but Ederson acrobatically tipped over to seal the Champions League trophy for City.

Cue the final whistle, pandemonium in one end, pain in the other. Guardiola – hailed a genius by a teary Jack Grealish in the aftermath – had achieved the elusive European crown at City.

It was the end of a journey for City in recent years as immortality was finally achieved.

In Istanbul expectations go out the window but dreams are realised.

And when it comes to Manchester City this season, winning wasn’t just expected it was inevitable.