Chelsea Wins Champions League Final in Shootout Over Bayern
Chelsea captured its first Champions League title, beating Bayern Munich at the German club’s home field 4-3 in a penalty shootout.
The Blues won the shootout last night after the teams finished tied 1-1 after extra time at the Allianz Arena in Munich. Didier Drogba converted the deciding kick after tying the game with an 88th-minute goal.
“We have a group of players that have a big heart, passion, motivation and desire,” Chelsea interim manager Roberto Di Matteo told U.K. broadcaster ITV. “That was the only way to achieve this trophy.”
Chelsea made the final four penalties after missing its opener, while Bayern missed its last two chances. Blues goalkeeper Petr Cech made one save in the shootout and also stopped a penalty from Arjen Robben in extra time.
Thomas Mueller scored for Bayern in the 83rd minute before Drogba headed in a corner kick with two minutes left. The game went to extra time and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech saved a penalty kick from Arjen Robben to preserve the tie.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has spent more than $1 billion in his quest to win Europe’s elite club competition since buying the team in 2003. The Blues reached the semifinals in five of the past eight years but only advanced to one championship match, losing to Premier League rival Manchester United in a penalty shootout in 2008.
“We’ve been so many years trying to do this,” midfielder Frank Lampard, who served as captain in place of suspended John Terry, told ITV. “This is the one we really wanted and we’ve got it. It means everything.”
Bayern started strong, pushing back a Chelsea defense missing suspended Terry and Branislav Ivanovic to the edge of its area. The makeshift unit was pinned back for most of the game and when Bayern find an opening they wasted it, particularly striker Mario Gomez, who missed three chances in quick succession.
Franck Ribery scored what he thought was the opening goal after 50 minutes but he was deemed offside by the assistant referee. Just as Bayern’s forwards grew frustrated, Mueller leaped to head Toni Kroos’s ball to the far post past Cech.
Chelsea, which had rarely threatened, stunned Bayern by hitting back with two minutes left as Drogba powered in a header off the Blue’s first corner of the match.
Drogba gave Bayern a chance in extra time when he tripped Ribery in the area but Cech saved Robben’s penalty low to his left. That was the best chance of extra time, and the match went to a penalty shootout.
Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer saved Juan Mata’s opener and when Cech stopped Ivica Olic’s effort and Ashley Cole converted, the score was tied 4-4. Bastian Schweinsteiger’s kick hit the post and Drogba put the winning kick by Neuer.
It capped a series of comebacks for the Blues, who rallied to beat Napoli in the round of 16, winning the second leg 4-1 in extra time after a 3-1 opening loss in Italy.
The London team easily beat Benfica 3-1 in the quarterfinals before upsetting defending champion Barcelona. Chelsea opened the semifinal with a 1-0 home victory and, playing with 10 men, drew 2-2 at the Nou Camp to clinch a spot in the title match.
The victory continues a late-season run under Di Matteo, who replaced the fired Andre Villas-Boas in March. The Swiss- born former Italy player, Chelsea’s ninth coach since Abramovich took ownership, won 14 and drew four in 21 matches, including a 2-1 victory over Liverpool in the F.A. Cup final on May 5.
“Robbie has been fantastic since he came in,” Terry told ITV. “To win the F.A. Cup and the Champions League, he can’t do more than that.”
The win guarantees Chelsea a place in next season’s Champions League after it failed to qualify by finishing sixth in the Premier League. Tottenham secured the final qualifying spot by finishing fourth but will now drop to the second-tier Europa League in favor of the Blues.