Home > Football > Chelsea seal first ever European Cup triumph in dramatic penalty shootout

Chelsea seal first ever European Cup triumph in dramatic penalty shootout

Bayern Munich 1-1 Chelsea (AET). Chelsea win 4-3 on penalties.

Chelsea tonight won the club’s first European Cup, defeating Bayern Munich 4-3 on penalties after the two teams could not be separated during 120 minutes of football at the Allianz Arena.

Going into the game, the big questions revolved around team selection as both sides were affected by suspensions to key players. Chelsea were missing influential captain John Terry, his fellow defender Branislav Ivanovic, Raul Meireles and the hero from the Nou Camp, Ramires. Bayern were also affected by suspensions to defenders as Holger Badstuber and David Alaba were forced to miss out as a result of yellow cards picked up in Madrid. They were also made to do without midfielder Luiz Gustavo.

Chelsea’s interim manager Roberto Di Matteo sprung a surprise by handing 22 year old Ryan Bertrand his Champions League debut in the unfamiliar position of left wing as he looked to nullify the threat of Bayern’s right wing maestro, Arjen Robben. Bayern’s line-up was more predictable, although Jupp Heynckes’s decision to go with an out-of-position Anatoliy Tymoschuk at the heart of a back four instead of Daniel van Buyten raised a few eyebrows. Once the game got underway, this decision looked like a complete irrelevance as Bayern dominated a Chelsea side that offered very little in the way of an attacking threat.

The German side immediately got on the front foot and it was obvious from the outset that they had identified Jose Bosingwa as a weakness. Bastian Schweinsteiger and co. looked to find French winger Franck Ribery at every opportunity to give him the chance to run at the Portuguese fullback. Schweinsteiger had the first shot of the game in the fourth minute but it was deflected behind for a corner that came to nothing, before Toni Kroos screwed a shot wide a minute later. Bayern’s tactic of getting the ball wide was working well as Robben and Ribery caused problems almost at will. The two, who are barely on speaking terms, combined well eight minutes in when the Dutchman sprung the offside trap and latched onto Ribery’s clever through ball. Robben cut inside on to his favourite left foot but ballooned his shot horribly over the bar.

Robben, Ribery and Mario Gomez were constantly interchanging positions and Chelsea’s defence was struggling to come to terms with it. 13 minutes in Ribery whipped in an early cross but Gomez was unable to find the target, something that would become a feature of the night.

Bayern had dominated the first 15 minutes and although Chelsea were maintaining a good defensive shape, the early signs were worrying. Chelsea’s lack of attacking threat meant that Bayern fullbacks Philipp Lahm and Diego Contento could bomb forward at will and support the duo nicknamed ‘Robbery’ by the German tabloid press. Bayern continued to turn the screw with Gomez trying to turn in the box when shooting first time would have been a better option and Robben having a shot low to left just about kept out by Petr Cech.

After 25 minutes, Chelsea had registered zero attempts on goal and had only enjoyed 36% possession; the pattern of the game was well set. Bayern went close ten minutes before half-time when Thomas Müller met a Contento cross with a sweetly struck volley that flew just wide of Petr Cech’s right hand post, but two minutes later, Chelsea finally tested Manuel Neuer as Salomon Kalou fizzed in a low shot at the near post. Chelsea were starting to find their feet in the game, with Gary Cahill beginning to carry the ball out of defence and launch attacks. However, three minutes before halftime they could, and probably should, have found themselves one nil down. A clever dummy by Müller saw the ball arrive at the feet of Gomez 13 yards out but the German striker leaned back and blazed what was a good chance over the bar.

Shortly after, the Portuguese referee blew for halftime, signalling the end of a period that the Germans had dominated, but in which they had failed to make their superiority count. Would they rue their missed chances?

The second half began much as the first had ended; with Bayern pushing forward in search of a goal. Toni Kroos had a shot deflected behind by David Luiz before Bayern carved Chelsea open and Franck Ribery scored. Luckily for the English side, he was offside and so the goal was correctly ruled out. Nonetheless, Di Matteo would have been worried by the ease with which Müller was able to streak up the right flank and pick out a wide open Robben on the edge of the 18 yard box. Chelsea continued to defend manfully with Ashley Cole blocking a goal-bound effort from Robben before Luiz threw his body in the way of a Kroos strike. Bayern were still dominant but with just 20 minutes left, the score remained 0-0.

It was not until the 72nd minute that the Londoners launched their first attack of the second half. Bosingwa picked up the ball on the right wing and swung in a good-looking cross, but with the peripheral Didier Drogba lurking at the back post, Neuer came and claimed the ball with a safe pair of hands. Just a minute later, Di Matteo made the first substitution of the final when he brought on Florent Malouda to replace the debutant, Bertrand. Immediately after the change, Chelsea had a sniff of goal as Neuer flapped at a cross. The ball fell to Drogba but the Ivorian failed to make anything like clean contact and the ball tamely bounced in to the grateful arms of a relieved Neuer. As the game neared the end of normal time, Bayern continued to pile on the pressure, with Thomas Müller dragging a poor effort wide from 15 yards, before heading straight at Cech from a Robben cross.

 

Chelsea beat Bayern in their own back yard to win the club’s first ever European Cup (This image is the property of Getty Images)

The German midfielder had better luck eight minutes from time as Toni Kroos whipped in a cross from the left. Müller lost Ashley Cole at the far post and met the ball with a header in to the ground. The ball bounced up and despite Cech’s best efforts found the roof of the net.

Almost immediately, Heynckes looked to protect the lead by withdrawing the goal scorer for Daniel van Buyten. It proved to be a move that backfired as Fernando Torres, who had come on in the aftermath of Bayern’s goal, won a corner that Juan Mata put on Drogba’s head. The 34 year old made no mistake and powered a header goalwards. Neuer got a hand to it but it was simply too powerful. Chelsea, out of nowhere, had equalised two minutes from the end. All of a sudden it was game on. A scrappy few minutes, characterised by great nerves, were played out before the game entered extra-time.

Chelsea started on the front foot as Torres surged in to the box. Jerome Boateng came across and the Spaniard hit the ground appealing for a penalty. The referee remained unmoved, but he did not two minutes later as Ribery ran in to the Chelsea penalty area. Drogba attempted an ill-advised tackle from behind and only succeeded in kicking the Frenchman’s calf. The referee pointed to the spot.

After a delay due to Ribery’s injury, former Chelsea man Arjen Robben placed the ball on the spot. It was not one of his finer efforts as he rather telegraphed his intention. Cech dived low to his left and held on to the shot and so the score remained tied at 1-1. The injured Ribery was replaced by Ivica Olic and the rest of the first period of extra-time was somewhat scrappy.

By the time the second period of extra-time began, it was obvious that nerves were jangling as the prospect of a penalty shootout loomed large. Three minutes in, Bayern came close to avoiding spot kicks as Olic cushioned a volley just inches wide. He may well have been trying to cushion it in to the path of van Buyten on the edge of the six yard box but for reasons known only to him, the Belgian had not continued his run.

The Germans continued to plug away but as had been the case all night, their delivery from set-pieces (of which they had many) and their finishing were poor. After 120 minutes of football, the teams were locked at 1-1 and so for the tenth time in history, the final was to be decided on penalties.

Bayern captain Philipp Lahm stepped up first and although Cech got a hand to it, it found the net to the keeper’s left. Juan Mata was first up for Chelsea but he could only drill it down the middle straight at Neuer. Advantage Bayern. Mario Gomez, who had been out of sorts all night, confidently fired home Bayern’s second before David Luiz did an impression of Julian Dicks to get Chelsea on the board. Bayern then gambled big by sending their goalkeeper to take one, but Neuer did not let them down sneaking it past an outstretched Cech. At this stage, Bayern looked odds on favourites. Chelsea’s regular penalty taker Frank Lampard was the next man up and he powerfully drove the ball in to the roof of the net and Chelsea were still very much in it.

Bayern had the opportunity to reach match point and the responsibility fell to Olic. However, the Croatian’s penalty was the ideal height for Cech to save to his left and Chelsea suddenly had the opportunity to level the scores. Ashley Cole made no mistake, firing a terrific left-footed penalty in to the inside netting to Neuer’s left. The pendulum had swung and the pressure was suddenly on the Germans.

Having missed earlier, Robben did not volunteer to take one of the five and so the man who had been the best player on the park for 120 minutes, Bastian Schweinsteiger, made the long walk from the halfway line. He paused during the run-up waiting for Cech to shift his weight one way or another. The Chelsea keeper did not move and so the German midfielder had to make a decision. He placed his kick to Cech’s right but he saw it strike the post and bounce back out. As they were in 2008, Chelsea were just one penalty away from Champions League glory. Fortunately for them, John Terry was in a polo shirt on the touchline and so Didier Drogba was the man charged with the task of winning it. He took a very short run up and coolly slotted it in to the bottom left-hand corner with Neuer diving the wrong way. Chelsea had finally found the Holy Grail and fulfilled Roman Abramovich’s dream of winning the European Cup.

Nobody can argue that Chelsea were deserved winners on night as they were outclassed by a Bayern Munich side who ultimately paid for their profligacy in front of goal, just as Barcelona and Napoli did before them. In fact, when one thinks back to Chelsea’s 3-1 deficit after the first leg in Italy, Lionel Messi’s missed penalty in the Nou Camp and Petr Cech’s penalty save from Arjen Robben tonight, one may just feel that it was meant to be for Chelsea. Whatever the case, they will not care one bit. They are the Champions of Europe and nobody can take that away from them.

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