Chelsea win Champions league for the first time
Munich, May 20 (IANS) Chelsea have for the first time won the Champions league, European soccer's premier club competition, managing to pip Bayern Munich in the penalty shootout 4-3 after tying 1-1 in the 120 minutes of real play.
Didier Drogba may have played his last game for Chelsea and the 34-year-old from Ivory Coast put his stamp on the victory Saturday.
Playing at home in Munich, Bayern dominated most part of play and looked like wrapping it up when they took a 1-0 lead with less than five minutes to go in normal time. Drogba turned it around, nodding home from an acute angle a corner kick by Mata to make it 1-1, reports Xinhua.
Then there was another twist in the drama. Fifteen minutes into the extra time, Drogba brought down Bayern's Franck Ribery in the box. As the Frenchman limped off the field, Arjen Robben's penalty kick was stopped by Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.
After a few skirmishes in the remaining period of overtime, it was time for shootout.
Bayern again forged ahead 3-1, but Chelsea again restored parity 3-3. The teams were ready with their final kicks. Bastian Schweinsteiger muffed, finding the post and in walked Drogba. Without any hint of nerves he coolly beat Manuel Neuer, giving Chelsea the title they failed to win in a similar shootout to Manchester United in 2008 in Moscow. Drogba could only watch that match from afar after being ejected from the match.
It appeared clear from the start that Chelsea were out to defend their goal with all their might and wait for their opportunity to score. Barring one by Salomon Kalou their attempts upfront were all too feeble to test Neuer.
Bayern picked up exactly where they left off in the second half, with strikers Ribery and Robben both causing problems for the Chelsea defence.
The goal Bayern looked like scoring finally came from Thomas Muller in the 83rd minute following a cross from Toni Kroos. Bayern players and fans celebrated wildly, thinking that the there was little time for Chelsea to come back.
Chelsea would not give up. From their first corner of the game, Drogba stealthily headed the ball superbly to the utter dismay of Bayern barely five minutes after they thought they had sewn the final up.
In a last-ditch effort to find the winner, the london side had Bayern under seize and Neuer was under some pressure to stay clear of danger.
In the extra time, Bayern had their best chance to make sure of winning the cup Robben stepped forward to take the penalty after Drogba fouled Ribery. The stinging shot went straight to Cech.
In the shootout, Bayern weren't able to hold their nerve, despite their success on penalties in the semi-final against Real Madrid.
"This was not about who won in the penalties," Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes told reporters after the game.
"This was about us not using our chances to win the game. It is purely our fault that we did not use our many chances. My team played an outstanding game against an opponent who played as we expected them to do," Heynckes, who coached Real Madrid to the title in 1998, was quoted as saying by Deutsche Welle.
For Bayern the defeat was particularly bitter as they not only squandered the rare chance to win a Champions league final on their home ground, but also because this was their last opportunity to make amends for what by their high standards had been a disappointing season. Not only have they failed to win the Bundesliga, but they also badly lost the German Cup final to Dortmund.
Chelsea's stand-in captain Frank lampard hailed Drogba as the hero.
"We didn't play fantastic but the main man Didier dug us out of trouble there," said lampard, who captained the side in the absence of the suspended John Terry.
"He's a hero. Without him we're not here. He scores the goals in the big games."
Drogba was no doubt the Man of the Match.
Drogba ran to the side and threw himself onto the ground. Then, he held Cech in a long embrace, thanking the keeper for saving Chelsea's night.
"When we have this guy in goal you have to believe," said Drogba.
"It was written, I think, along time ago. I want to dedicate this cup to all the managers we've had before, all the players I've played with before...They (Chelsea players) never give up until the end. This team is amazing."
Drogba's contract expires this summer, but lampard said he would love him to stay.
Bayern Munich 1 (Mueller 83), Chelsea 1 (Drogba 88)
After extra time, Chelsea won 4-3 on penalties.
Chelsea: Petr Cech, Jose Bosingwa, David luiz, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Salomon Kalou (Fernando Torres 84), John Obi Mikel, Juan Mata, Frank lampard (Captain), Ryan Bertrand (Florent Malouda 73), Didier Drogba.
Coach: Roberto Di Matteo.
Bayern Munich: Manuel Neuer, Philipplahm (Captain), Jerome Boateng, Anatoliy Tymoschuk, Diego Contento, Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Mueller (Daniel Van Buyten 87), Toni Kroos, Franck Ribery (Ivica Olic 97), Mario Gomez.
Coach: Jupp Heynckes.
Referee: Pedro Proenca (POR)
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