Robben Helps Bayern Leave Behind Failures in Champions League
A year ago Arjen Robben failed to score a penalty as Bayern Munich lost the Champions League final to Chelsea. Last night, the Dutchman redeemed himself with a late goal that gave his team the European soccer title.
The victory gives Bayern its fifth title in Europe’s elite club competition and comes after two losses in the past three finals. Bayern was beaten last year in a shootout to Chelsea on its home field, with Robben missing a penalty kick in extra time.
“I’ve dreamed about this moment,” Robben said in a press conference. “I had a good feeling when we got here today, but to actually win the Champions League is unbelievable.”
Bayern’s Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring in the 60th minute and Ilkay Gundogan tied it eight minutes later with a penalty kick.
It was the first time two German clubs met in the final in the competition’s 58-year history. Dortmund won its only Champions League title in 1997.
“I am proud of my team, but at the moment it’s the disappointment that prevails,” Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said. “If you’re looking forward to something and don’t get it, it hurts.”
The victory keeps Bayern, which routed tournament favorite Barcelona 7-0 in the two-game semifinal, in contention to become the first German team to win three trophies in one season. It won the Bundesliga, finishing 25 points ahead of runner-up Dortmund, and will face Stuttgart in the German Cup final on June 1.
“After we lost the final last year, we didn’t resolve ourselves to our fate,” Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said. “We upped the ante and tried harder and you see the result. From the outset of the season, we have been improving things, adapting things.”
Bayern’s five titles ties Liverpool for third most, behind Real Madrid’s nine and AC Milan’s seven. Heynckes, who will step down after the season, becomes the fourth manager to win the European Cup with two teams, after guiding Real Madrid to success in 1998.
Dortmund started on the offensive, forcing Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer into four saves in the first 25 minutes. Bayern didn’t get its first chance until the 26th minute as Mandzukic’s header was tipped over goal by Roman Weidenfeller, with Javi Martinez heading over the resulting corner kick. Weidenfeller then blocked Robben’s shot and Neuer came off his line to stop Robert Lewandowski in the 35th minute.
Robben got free in the Dortmund area moments later but stumbled with his shot being blocked. He then fought off Mats Hummels for a long ball into the middle of the area just before halftime, only to hit Weidenfeller in the face with his shot.
Bayern started the second half on the attack and went in front after Robben took a ball from Franck Ribery and laid a pass for Mandzukic to knock in at the back post.
The lead lasted just eight minutes as Gundogan scored from the penalty spot after Bayer defender Dante fouled Marco Reus. Dortmund broke out on a counter attack moments later, but Hummels sent a shot well over goal.
Bayern had a chance to go back in front as Thomas Mueller broke free on the right, went around Weidenfeller and sent a ball toward the open net which Neven Subotic slid to kick away with Robben positioned at the back post.
After Weidenfeller punched away shots from David Alaba and Bastian Schweinsteiger, Robben latched onto a ball in the area and sent a shot into the net with Weidenfeller closing in on him in the final minute.
Heynckes said he had a feeling Robben would be a factor, based on the winger’s recent form.
“Last year we are all tragic figures, not just Arjen,” Heynckes said. “Yesterday I was talking to him and said, ‘Look Arjen, you’re in really good form and tomorrow that is going to be one of the crucial factors.’”
As for Robben, he can officially put the ghosts of 2012 behind him.
“After all the disappointment of last year, you don’t want the tag of a loser,” he said. “At last we did it and we can forget about the other things now.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at email@example.com.