Bayern Munich 1 – 1 Chelsea (AET) Chelsea win 4-3 on penalties
Not everything went to plan for Bayern Munich in Bavaria last night as Chelsea upset the odds to win the Champions League Final 4-3 on penalties. Thomas Mueller had put the Germans ahead in the 83rd minute at the Allianz Arena only to be pegged back by a bullet header from Didier Drogba with only two minutes remaining to send the game into extra time.
Chance after chance fell Bayern’s way during the regulation ninety minutes but they failed to capitalise on those opportunities to become the first side to win the Champions League in their own stadium since 1965.
Chelsea entered extra time with their tails up after their Drogba’s late equaliser but the Ivorian turned from hero to villain, conceding a penalty four minutes into extra time after needlessly tripping Franck Ribery inside the box.
It was left to Arjen Robben to keep Munich’s dreams of lifting the famous trophy alive but his drilled penalty was saved by Petr Cech who got down well to his left hand side before smothering the loose ball.
The additional thirty minutes played out much the same way as the initial ninety minutes. Bayern dominated possession, territory and chances without making the killer breakthrough. As each opportunity to score bypassed the German side it appeared that it was Chelsea’s time. Chelsea remained organised and resilient in defence throughout keeping their opposition at bay.
As the game entered into penalty kicks, many of the Chelsea players will have been reminded of the agony they felt after losing the final Manchester United on penalties in 2008.
The 2012 penalty shoot-out appeared to be treading a similar path as Bayern quickly went ahead. Philip Lahm scored the opening penalty for the German side whilst Manuel Neuer saved Juan Mata’s opening effort for the Blues. Bayern’s Mario Gomez and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer maintained the pressure on Chelsea whilst David Luiz and Frank Lampard kept them within reach at 3-2.
The momentum in the shoot-out shifted dramatically as Ivica Olic had his penalty saved by Cech before Ashley Cole’s expertly taken kick found the bottom corner. With the score’s level at 3-3 after four attempts each the game entered sudden death.
Instrumental Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who scored the decisive penalty in their semi final victory over Real Madrid, stepped up to the mark. If the German side could have chosen anyone to take their fifth penalty it would have been him. Nonetheless, the pressure of the situation got to him as his stuttered run up did nothing to commit Petr Cech before he struck the post with his attempt.
Chelsea were within touching distance of the trophy, one successful penalty and they were Champions of Europe. Few expected them to be in with an opportunity to win before the match began, many believed it was destiny that Bayern would win it. Prior to the start of the shoot-out, the commentators rhymed off statistics appearing to tip the likelihood of victory massively in the German sides favour but Chelsea had the chance to make history of their own.
It was down to Chelsea hero Didier Drogba, in what could be his last game for the club, to win the game and the competition for the London side. One swipe of his right foot and the team would be remembered forever. As he walked confidently from the halfway line to the penalty spot, Manuel Neuer threw the ball thirty yards to him, as he did each Chelsea player, in an attempt to psyche them out. Drogba placed the ball on the spot before taking a short run up and slotting the ball past the 6’ 4” German keeper.
He wheeled away in jubilation as the rest of his team mates thundered down the pitch to congratulate him. Chelsea had done it, they had won the Champions League, becoming the first London club ever to do so.
Meanwhile, the defeated German side lay sprawled around the centre circle in disbelief. They had been built up so much before the game, they were favourites and they were playing in their home stadium. As the teams walked out of the tunnel at the start of the game, their fans unfurled banners saying ‘Our City, Our Stadium, Our Cup’. The expectation was high and the players ultimately failed to rise to the occasion. Throughout the game, which they dominated from start to finish, they scorned almost every opportunity that came their way. The final they had dreamed of since the venue was announced in 2009 had ended more like a nightmare.
Every single person involved with Chelsea had a smile as wide as the River Thames spread across their face. Owner Roman Abramovich greeted every player with a warm embrace as they walked up to receive their winner’s medals. However, the biggest one was kept for caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo who has led the Blues to the FA Cup and Champions League double since taking over from the sacked Andre Villas-Boas. He was a legend as a player for the club and now as a manager but he is not guaranteed the job on a permanent basis despite his achievements this season. It remains to be seen who will be manager of the European Champions next season.
Man of the Match: Ashley Cole
The Englishman really showed why he is regarded as one of the best left backs in the world handling the threat of Arjen Robben and Phillip Lahm expertly during one of his best games for the club.