Chelsea: The 2012 UEFA Champions League Champions
Penalty shoot-out: Bayern Munich 3-4 Chelsea
Chelsea played poorly for the majority of the UEFA Champions League final, but Bayern Munich have only themselves to blame for not winning the trophy in front of their home fans. The Bavarians were incredibly wasteful and could have scored five or six goals, but scored just one. Chelsea didn’t have a lot of chances, but Didier Drogba converted their best one, an 88th-minute equalizer to force extra time. In fitting fashion, he was also the hero in penalty kicks, firing Chelsea to their first ever Champions League title on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
The first half was littered with chances but Bayern’s finishing was woeful. Müller, Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben all wasted golden chances, with Gomez’s miss being the worst of the bunch. In the 42nd minute, he skinned Gary Cahill and had a clear shooting lane, but hit a terrible shot well over the bar.
In the second half, Bayern Munich picked up right where they left off with some great chances right out of the gate. In the 46th minute, Jose Bosingwa was beaten badly by Franck Ribery, who put a great ball across, but David Luiz made an excellent clearance. One minute later, Luiz found himself burned on a similar move down the left side, but this time Ashley Cole was the one who bailed out his team with a great block.
Ribery appeared to put Bayern ahead in the 53rd minute, but his goal was disallowed. Chelsea gave the ball away on an attack down their right and Bayern put together a fantastic counter. Arjen Robben teed himself up for a shot, which was blocked, but the deflection fell right to Ribery. He finished, but he was flagged for offside, and correctly. He was just a couple of inches off.
Cole was superb for Chelsea throughout the match and bailed them out on multiple occasions, but he was at fault for Bayern Munich’s regulation goal. In the 83rd minute, Bastian Schweinsteiger drifted out to the left wing and put in a cross to the back post. Gomez’s presence got Gary Cahill and Cole mixed up, allowing Müller to get free on the back post and nod the ball into the back of the net. It wasn’t the best of finishes and Petr Cech could have made a save, but the ball went between his hands.
Based on the low volume of chances Chelsea created throughout the match, it was basically assumed to be over at this point, but they fought back in spectacular fashion. Chelsea won a corner in the 88th minute, and with their big bodies in the box, made the most of it. Juan Mata played a great delivery to the near post and Didier Drogba rose up above everyone, powering a header into the back of the net in emphatic fashion to improbably level the match at 1-1. Chelsea continued to surge forward in stoppage time, but couldn’t find another goal and the two teams headed to stoppage time.
Because of the situation the teams were in late in regulation, both started extra time with odd lineups. Chelsea had brought on Florent Malouda and Fernando Torres for Ryan Bertrand and Salomon Kalou, leaving them shorthanded defensively. Bayern brought on Daniel Van Buyten for Thomas Müller, leaving them more defensive than they would have liked to start extra time.
Even with that less than ideal lineup, Bayern won a penalty right at the beginning of extra time. With Drogba stuck back on defense, he was caught reacting late on the edge of his own box and he brought down Franck Ribery. Robben stepped up to the spot, but hit a poor low shot right at Cech, and the Chelsea keeper saved easily.
Ribery was injured on the foul by Drogba and had to be replaced by the tireless Ivica Olic. From that point forward, the first period of extra time was a bit more relaxed, with neither team having any clear-cut goal scoring opportunities.
Olic and Van Buyten were almost the heroes in the 18th minute, but failed to make the most of a golden chance. Robben found Olic with a cross at the back post, and the Croatian completely lost Bosingwa. Posed with the option to cross or shoot, he chose to look for Van Buyten at the back post. His cross missed the post by a foot, and Van Buyten couldn’t get on the end of it.
That was far and away the best chance of the second half of extra time, as both teams began to look exhausted in the closing minutes. There was plenty of attacking both ways, but none of it looked the least bit clinical. Shortly after the Olic chance, penalties looked nearly inevitable, and they came without either team scoring.
When Drogba scored the equalizer in stoppage time, it seemed like the eventual conclusion was almost fate. The penalty shootout was a dramatic one, and though it almost seemed lost for Chelsea at the beginning, there was no doubt what was going to happen when the final penalty taker stepped up.
Philipp Lahm scored the opening penalty for Bayern Munich, but Juan Mata missed the second. The next four takers all scored until Ivica Olic stepped up to the spot. He took a solid spot kick, but Cech guessed correctly and dove to make an amazing save, keeping Chelsea alive. Cole was up next and hit a brilliant penalty into the side netting, giving Neuer no chance to make a save and putting the pressure on.
Schweinsteiger stepped up and instead of picking a spot, decided to try to fool Cech with a stutter step. All he did was throw himself off. If he made his penalty, the referee might have made him take it again for stopping completely, but he hit the post. He was so emotional that he couldn’t walk away from the penalty box by himself, and needed his teammates to help him away from the goal.
This gave Chelsea a chance to win with their next kick, and they had the perfect player stepping to the spot. The scorer of the equalizer, Didier Drogba, strolled up confidently. Even the biggest Bayern supporters in the building knew what was coming. Drogba, himself, knew what was coming. He didn’t look bothered in the least. The Chelsea legend stepped up and confidently buried his spot kick, giving Chelsea their first ever Champions League title with possibly his last kick of the ball as a Chelsea player.
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