UEFA Champions League final: Chelsea’s great escape to victory

Vineet Ramakrishnan

Munich: 88th minute, Bayern Munich were just a couple of minutes away from creating history, that’s when Didier Drogba decided to deliver the Champions League moment of the final, he surged ahead to connect the header, he jumped above them all, eye to eye with the ball, he swirled while shooting the bullet off his head, Manuel Neuer was beaten at the near post, the veteran in blue had done it.

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25 minutes later, Drogba’s final effort in Chelsea’s blue was a low cross to Neuer’s right, the keeper went the other way and with that Chelsea scripted the unlikely escape to victory. Roberto Di Matteo’s 22nd game in charge of the ‘Pensioners’ ended with his team right at the very pinnacle. Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Petr Cech and at last John Terry, the old age team has done it with a makeshift manager.

It was a 1-1 deadlock at the end of regulation time, where Muller scored for hosts in the 82nd minute and Drogba in the 88th minute taking the game to extra time where the deadlock continued. It then boiled down to the shootouts. 4 years back, Chelsea had lost the Champions League final on penalties in Moscow and Bayern had not lost any.

Lahm scored as Mata’s strike was saved by Neuer. Mario Gomez scored so did David Luiz. Neuer came up next and managed a shot past Cech. Lampard then shot a bullet. 3-2 to Bayern at that time. Olic came in, Cech saved, then Schweinsteiger hit the post. Meanwhile, Ashley Cole scored and as fate would have it, Dider Drogba romped one home for the grand finale

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Nearly, 2 hours and few minutes prior to these events, at the Allianz Arena, there was a sea of Red, and a wave of attack from the Reds more or less became the norm of the supposedly high intensity Champions League final affair. It was Robben, Ribery, Schweinsteiger,Gomez all out with Chelsea trying to defend. The Reds created many opportunities but squandered much more of them.

Chelsea were not playing the waiting game, they were playing the boring game, not many knew that would prove to be effective. Rookie Bertrand was assigned to assist Ashley Cole to stop the barraging Arjen Robben. Bertrand did his best but it was Ashley Cole who had a stellar match.

He was everywhere; he gave tough time to Robben and got in to help David Luiz blocking two sure shot strikes to the net off Gomez.

Muller, Gomez and Ribery missed a lot, some going away and some wide. It was becoming the game of inevitable goal for Bayern Munich but that did not come until the 82nd minute. It was a one-way traffic in the first half with Bayern leading the charge sans the finishing touch. Corners after corners were wasted by Bayern and they did not even cringe at each miss, as if they knew about the inevitability. A total of 21 corners were won by Bayern with Robben taking the majority of it and Kroos the rest, none produced a goal. It took a long diagonal ball from Kroos for Muller to get a goal in the 82nd minute. Jupp Heynckes soon substituted the youngster thinking the cup was in their bag.

Torres came in as a substitute after that and he changed the complexion of the match, Chelsea started to attack and his flair on field was very evident. Then, Drogba took his moment scoring the equalizer in the 88th minute courtesy a corner, only the second for the Blues.

With 1-1, the game into extra time and Arjen Robben then got the golden chance to win it for Bayern as Drogba’s reckless tackle inside the D on Ribery was awarded as a penalty. The Dutch international though spilled the chance as a shot low to Cech's left was saved by the keeper.

Chelsea persisted with their defense and the Bayern attack just kept fading way and the shootout ensued.

And nearly 2 hours and few minutes later, as fate would have it, Drogba scored one past Neuer and that was it for the Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, Chelsea became the most unlikely European Champions of 2012.