AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
MUNICH: Didier Drogba was the hero as Chelsea won a historic first Champions League crown here on Saturday to shatter Bayern Munich’s dreams of winning the title at their home stadium.
Drogba stepped up to rifle home the decisive penalty as Chelsea clinched a 4-3 shoot-out victory after a 120 minutes of nerve-shredding drama in front of a partisan crowd at Bayern’s Allianz Arena. Drogba had also rescued Chelsea with an 88th-minute equaliser to cancel out what had looked like a winning goal from Thomas Mueller for Bayern as 90 minutes finished with the sides locked at 1-1.
It was an agonising defeat for Bayern, who saw midfield Bastian Schweinsteiger miss with their final kick to give Drogba the opportunity to cement his place in the pantheon of Chelsea legends. Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech was the club’s other hero on the night, saving from Oliv to get his team back into the shoot-out after Juan Mata had missed the Chelsea’s opening effort.
Cech had earlier saved a Bayern penalty from Arjen Robben in the first period of extra time as the English side defied the odds once more. Drogba’s winning spot-kick was a fairytale ending for the 34-year-old Ivorian striker, who had been sent off in the final minutes of Chelsea’s Champions League final defeat in Moscow four years ago.
“In Moscow it was very difficult, very painful for the players, for the club, for the fans, and today we managed to change it and again it was an amazing game, a crazy game,” Drogba said. The win capped a rollercoaster season for Chelsea, whose campaign has been transformed since Roberto Di Matteo was appointed as interim manager in March following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo has guided the club to a Champions League and FA Cup double in the space of a fortnight and is now favourite to land the job on a full-time basis.
Chelsea’s victory — the club’s first European crown and the first by a London team — also means they will qualify for next season’s Champions League as tournament winners despite a poor league campaign.
“Football and life is sometimes unpredictable and crazy, and I don’t think anybody could have predicted what’s happened in the last few months of this season,” Di Matteo said. “We’ve had a very difficult season and to finish off like this is an incredible achievement by this team.”
But the loss left Bayern shattered as their dream of lifting their fifth European title ended in agony. “We missed too many chances,” admitted Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes.
A match Bayern had dominated went to penalties after a frenetic finish to normal time, with Mueller heading Bayern into the lead seven minutes from time only for Drogba to equalise in the 88th minute. A dramatic start to extra-time then saw Bayern’s former Chelsea winger Robben miss a penalty — saved by Cech — after Drogba had brought down Franck Ribery in the area.
For much of the match a Bayern victory had looked the likeliest outcome, with the Bundesliga giants revelling in the raucous support of their home fans. Schweinsteiger was the first to set alarms off in the Chelsea back four, having his shot deflected behind by Gary Cahill after only three minutes.
Chelsea coach Di Matteo had sprung a surprise by handing a first Champions League start to youngster Ryan Bertrand in an effort to cut off the supply lines to Robben down the right flank. However the Dutchman found space with ease in the eighth minute, cutting in from the flank and curling a shot over the bar.
Robben produced the best chance of the half on 21 minutes, teasing the ball past Jose Bosingwa to dart into the area. Robben’s shot was low and hard, but Cech stuck out a leg and the ball cannoned to safety. It was too be the story of the match, with Bayern finishing with 35 attempts on goal to Chelsea’s nine. The Germans however were thwarted by some dogged Chelsea defending, with Ashley Cole saving the Londoners with a series of telling interventions.