Didier Drogba the hero as Chelsea win Champions League final on penalties
Saturday, 19 May 2012
*Didier Drogba and Petr Cech were the heroes as Chelsea beat Bayern Munich 4-3 on penalties, after a 1-1 draw in a Champions League final that was high on drama.*
Gary Cahill, Florent Malouda, Jose Bosingwa and Fernando Torres celebrate Chelsea winning the Champions League (Pic: Getty)
A drab match at Munich's Allianz Arena sprang into life in the final ten minutes and Thomas Muller headed Bayern in front, before Didier Drogba powered home an 88th-minute equaliser.
Drogba almost went from hero to villain when he felled Franck Ribery to concede a penalty early in extra-time, but Cech dived full length to keep Arjen Robben's spot-kick out.
When the shootout came, Manuel Neuer saved Juan Mata's poorly-struck effort to give Bayern the advantage, but Cech then denied Ivica Olic and Ashley Cole levelled it up at 3-3.
Bastian Schweinsteiger hit the post with his penalty and Drogba smashed home the tenth kick to give Chelsea their first Champions League triumph.
Roberto Di Matteo, who was able to field fit again David Luiz and Gary Cahill in the centre of defence, surprisingly included Ryan Bertrand in his starting line-up ahead of Florent Malouda and Michael Essien.
Didier Drogba celebrates equalising for Chelsea with minutes remaining in normal time (Pic: Getty)
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes opted to replace the suspended Holger Badstuber with Anatoliy Tymoshchuk in the centre of defence instead of Daniel van Buyten.
The German side started strongly and Cahill had to block a Schweinsteiger shot from just outside the area in the fourth minute.
Mario Gomez headed over from a Ribery cross as the pressure built on the Chelsea backline, before the Bayern centre forward puzzlingly chose not to shoot when well placed in the penalty area.
Robben then weaved his way through the Blues defence and let fly, only to see Cech make an instinctive save to flick the ball on to the woodwork.
Gomez squandered another good chance, volleying wide from a Diego Contento cross, as Bayern continued to dominate.
Chelsea finally showed something as an attacking force in the final ten minutes of the first half, and Drogba and Lampard combined to create an opening for Salomon Kalou, but Munich goalkeeper Neuer saved well at his near post.
There was time for Gomez to waste yet another good opportunity before the break, when be blazed over the bar from 15 yards out after clever approach play by Robben and Muller.
Bayern's domination continued in the opening stages of the second half and they had the ball in the net in the 54th minute, but the offside flag went up against Ribery when he turned Robben's deflected shot home.
While they controlled possession and territory, the German club began to struggle to create chances when faced with some obdurate defending typified by Cole making blocks from Muller and Toni Kroos within 90 seconds.
The breakthrough finally came in the 83rd minute when Schweinsteiger looped a cross to the far post, where Muller had dropped off Cole. He headed it into the ground and it bounced off the turf and over Cech into the roof of the net.
There looked to be no way back for Chelsea, but their big-game specialist Drogba rescued them with a thundering header into the top corner of Neuer's goal from Mata's 88th-minute corner.
Chelsea started extra-time well, but then Drogba was correctly penalised for a foul on Ribery in the box. However, Cech produced a great save to deny Robben from the spot.
Bayern substitute Olic should have won the game in the 108th minute, but rolled the ball tamely across the face of goal when picked out by Philipp Lahm at the back post and the final went to penalties.
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José Mourinho says he wants to “rest players” for Chelsea’s trip to Anfield ahead of the second leg of their Champions League semi-final. The Blues... The Sport Review 12 hours ago - SportsAlso reported by •guardian.co.uk