UEFA Champions League 2012 Final Match Report

 

Didier Drogba and team-mates celebrate the Ivorian's equaliser

Didier Drogba capped off a memorable night for Chelsea as his equaliser in the dying moments led his Chelsea team into penalties – a shootout which they avenged Moscow for with a win against Bayern Munich in their own backyard.

In a drab affair which Bayern largely dominated on their own patch and took the lead with seven minutes remaining through Thomas Muller only to be thwarted by a Didier Drogba equaliser. Arjen Robben missed an extra time penalty which proved crucial and led onto a penalty shootout. Although Neuer thwarted the first penalty, it was Petr Cech and Didier Drogba who will walk away from Munich as the heroes thanks to a combination of a save from Schweinsteiger and a calm penalty from the Ivorian forward who may well be on his was out of Stamford Bridge.

David Luiz and Gary Cahill both survived fitness scares whilst Jose Bosingwa was drafted in for the suspended Branislav Ivanovic. Joining him was John Terry and the midfielder Ramires in suits for the final whilst the shock inclusion of Ryan Bertrand in an unusual midfield role for the young Englishman – becoming the first player to make his Champions League debut in the final.

After Bayern had reluctantly lost both the German Cup and the Bundesliga to Borussia Dortmund this season, they were out for their first notable piece of silverware this season. The home side-elect with Diego Contento and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk coming in for the suspended David Alaba and Holga Badstuber whilst their third suspended player, Luiz Gustavo made way for Thomas Muller.

In the build-up to the match, it seemed as though the title could swing just the one way with Chelsea’s makeshift line-up collapsing underneath a strong Bayern forward thinking starting eleven and in front of their own fans, no less.

Throughout the entire competition, Chelsea have become known as the apparent underdogs in ties such as Napoli and Barcelona and looked to continue that trend in an Allianz-Arena packed with Bayern supporters and a hot atmosphere to match. It was a cagey opening for both sides with Chelsea having periods of possession but largely in their own area as their opponents attempted to break them down. The travelling English side looked nervous as a Mario Gomez chance went begging as Jose Bosingwa fluffed his lines, almost turning the ball into his own net.

Arjen Robben had the best chance of the opening twenty or so minutes as gaps began to appear in the Chelsea ranks which allowed the Holland and former Chelsea winger to fizz a shot into Cech’s palms and, fortunately for the Czech goalkeeper, the ball ricocheted onto the upright.

For all of their pressure, Bayern only had one chance to show for their dominance whilst Chelsea hadn’t registered a single attempt on goal in the opening half hour of the contest until Juan Mata’s wayward free kick. This only served as a brief stop-gap for the Chelsea defence before Thomas Muller’s poor, unmarked volley in the box reminded Robert di Matteo that Bayern were very much in the driving seat.

However, with the glimmer of Salomon Kalou’s spider-pattern hair, the Ivorian lashed Chelsea’s first chance on target – perhaps reminding the home side that this match wasn’t one-sided as Manuel Neuer easily thwarted the Londoners. Chelsea had seemingly wormed their way into the match, Mario Gomez was awarded the best chance of the half, the he was faced with a simple finish but the man who had rippled the net fourty times previously this season couldn’t find the target as the half waned to a climax.

Chelsea were looking like an immovable object stood for all to see in Munich and it looked as though Bayern had penetrated on 54 minutes when Franck Ribery slotted home an open net only for the linesman to correctly rule out the decision. Apart from that momentary scare, Chelsea looked at ease in the early stages of the second half with not much penetration coming from either side.

The frustrations could be heard from the Bayern faithful as they resorted to appealling for half-hearted penalty shouts as the second half wore on, for the Chelsea defence stood resolute – just as they had in both semi-final ties against Barcelona. They looked disciplined as Ashley Cole’s series of thwarting tackles were ensuring that extra time was a likely possibility.

Thomas Mueller heads in for Bayern

When Bayern looked to test Petr Cech, a blue shirt would halt the ball’s passage to the Czech Republic goalkeeper in almost every instance in the first three quarters of the contest. Even when the likes of Kroos and Robben caught a clear sight of Cech in his goal, the efforts would be tame and ease for the Chelsea goalkeeper to claim.

Manuel Neuer came under the spotlight rarely but as his lack of activity in the match was perhaps the reason why he blundered a simple cross into Didier Drogba’s path but the Ivorian forward couldn’t capitalise. Bayern, as the match foretold, were looking increasingly dangerous and with each anti-climax befell frustration not only for the supporters but for the players as chances from the likes of Thomas Muller.

Muller, who had broken English hearts in the 2010 World Cup seemingly got the winner just eight minutes from time as a Toni Kroos’ cross dropped into the back post allowed a downward header which beat Petr Cech as the ball clipped the underside of the bar before the bulging net allowed thousands of German fans in attendance to celebrate.

With a central defender brought on for the remaining five minutes, you wouldn’t have thought an equaliser was coming in a Bayern dominated match. A corner with two minutes to go provided a perfect swansong for Didier Drogba to reportedly end his Chelsea career on.

A Mata corner was met with the wall of Chelsea supporters willing Drogba’s head to connect powerfully and that it did. Drogba had finally repaid his fans for the red card in the Champions League final four years ago with a cruel equaliser for Bayern who had looked for all of the match they would walk away with the trophy. Bayern were in danger of emulating their 1999 final by conceding two late goals after a dominating display – a match of which they lost 2-1 to Manchester United.

Chelsea started the brighter of the two teams but just three minutes into extra time, the man who prolonged the match thirty minutes longer, Didier Drogba, gave away a penalty by tripping Franck Ribery which swung the door wide open for the home side and Arjen Robben.

Robben’s penalty looked as though it would squirm through Cech but Chelsea kept a firm grip on the Champions League trophy as the Czech goalkeeper became a hero by stopping a penalty once more in a Champions League final. The German engineering of chances were battling against the plucky English lions as two clichés befit such a terrific occasion which for 80 minutes was a drab affair.

Petr Cech (left) saves a penalty from Arjen Robben (right)

With tired legs it looked for all the world like the match would go to penalties and arguably the match was gift wrapped for substitute Ivica Olic to wrap up the tie but the Croatian couldn’t and neither could a darting Mario Gomez run, only to be outdone by a diving Gary Cahill and for the tenth time a Champions League final went to a penalty shootout.

Penalties converted through Philipp Lahm and Mario Gomez saw Bayern build up a two-goal advantage through Juan Mata’s saved penalty. A penalty from goalkeeper Manuel Neuer looked to hit home advantage and a conversion from Ivica Olic would put them within touching distance only for the Croatian to be thwarted by Cech. The likes of David Luiz, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole forced a sudden death situation before Bastian Schweinsteiger’s crucial penalty was pushed onto the post.

This left the stage to the “actor” as the Bayern coach labelled him, Didier Drogba, who converted the winning penalty as Chelsea became the first London club to win the Champions League in their first penalty shootout win in Europe and, ultimately, Bayern’s first shootout loss.

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Luiz, Cahill, Cole, Kalou (Torres 84), Mikel, Lampard, Bertrand (Malouda 73), Mata, Drogba

Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Essien, Romeu, Ferreira, Sturridge

Booked: Cole, Luiz, Drogba, Torres

Scored: Drogba 88’

Bayern Munich: Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Tymoshchuk, Contento, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Robben, Muller (Van Buyten 86), Ribery (Olic 97), Gomez

Subs Not Used: Butt, Petersen, Rafinha, Usami, Pranjic

Booked: Schweinsteiger

Scored: Muller 83’