Chelsea take Champions League title on Penalties over Bayern Munich
5/19/2012 11:12:19 PM
Wow what a game. Bayern Munich and their fans will be left in tears about this Champions League Final for years. A game that they had no business losing somehow ended up as a loss.
A whopping 43 - 9 shot advantage. A corner kick advantage of 20 - 1. A lead with only minutes to play. A blown penalty kick in extra time. And finally a blown 2 - 0 lead in the deciding penalty kic shootout. Yet Chelsea are Champions League victors despite all those stats.
Assisted by the obvious advantage of playing at home, Bayern got themselves on the front foot immediately and were rarely pushed back. The nearest they came was when former Chelsea man Arjen Robben glided past two defenders, then drilled a low shot towards goal, which Petr Cech managed to deflect high onto a post, with Robben barely able to believe he had failed. Robben had another couple of chances before Muller volleyed wide.
Robben and Muller combined to create an opening for Mario Gomez that he looked certain to capitalise on after a deft body movement had left Gary Cahill stranded, only for the Bayern sharp-shooter to lash over.
Handed a surprise start, Ryan Bertrand coped well. It was the first time a player has made his debut in the competition in the final in the Champions League era. It was on the other side where Franck Ribery was proving to be a complete menace.
The pattern continued after half-time and Ribery thought he had grabbed a deserved opener when he snaffled the loose ball after Cole had blocked Robben's goalbound shot. The offside flag cut German celebrations short.
Cole's involvement was part of an outstanding contribution from the full-back, who seemed to be in the way of nearly all the threats to Chelsea's goal. He denied both Robben and Toni Kroos as Chelsea, enhancing his status one of the few truly world class players Roy Hodgson will have at his disposal at Euro 2012.
In response, Drogba, possibly making his last appearance for the club, unleashed a speculative long-range volley that dipped wide.
Bayern found the breakthrough seven minutes from time when Kroos curled a cross to Muller who intelligently headed the ball hard and down, which meant it bounced up towards the crossbar, possibly catching Cech by surprise. But Abramovich's team are made of stern stuff. And with barely two minutes remaining, and Muller replaced by an extra defender in Daniel van Buyten, Drogba rose at the near post to power Mata's corner home.
This time there was nothing the goalkeeper could do, the ball speeding past Neuer at such pace there was no time for reaction. The drama continued into extra-time as Drogba bundled Ribery over in the box. Whilst the contact might not have looked much, it was enough to end the Frenchman's evening and it was a definite spot-kick.
Robben hit his penalty towards the bottom right but he failed to find the corner and Cech was equal to it, making a fine save to his left and then smothering the rebound. It was the kind of moment that made you think fate had decreed a Chelsea win, a belief only strengthened by Bayern passing up two clear openings in the second period of those additional 30 minutes.
Didier Drogba kept his nerve as Olic and Schweinsteiger failed to ensure Chelsea erased the memory of their misery in 2008 by conquering Europe for the first time.