European Champions Bayern Munich won the UEFA Super Cup in the most dramatic style in the Eden Arena in Prague on Friday night. Their last-minute equalizer opened the way to success in the penalty shoot-out.
This game - which ended 2-2 after extra-time before Romelu Lukaku missed the decisive penalty for Chelsea - was always more than just a contest for a decorative start-of-the-season bauble pitting the winners of the Champions League against the winners of the Europa League.
Not only was it a revenge match for Bayern, after their painful (and slightly bizarre) defeat to the Londoners in the 2012 Champions League final, it was billed as an early clash between arguably the two hottest coaches in Europe. Chelsea's Jose Mourinho had moved to his former club after a fraught final year with Real Madrid, while Guardiola returned from his post-Barcelona sabbatical to take over the treble-winning Germans in the summer.
Fernando Torres opened the scoring for the London side in the eighth minute, finishing a sweeping counter-attack - Eden Hazard stormed through the center of Bayern's midfield, and found André Schürrle free on the right of the penalty area.
Chelsea's new German signing knocked it back to the Spanish international - who had also scored in the Europa League final - inside the area, and Torres promptly struck a sweet first-time half-volley into Manuel Neuer's near corner.
Those opening minutes set the tone for the whole half, as the Munich team dominated while Chelsea constantly threatened to break at pace. Just after the half-hour mark, Schürrle and Torres nearly combined again to double the lead, only for the Spaniard to fire over.
At the other end, Ribery continued to provide the most potent threat, at one point forcing Cech into a brilliant low save in his bottom left corner.
Hectic second half
But Bayern, often guilty of playing too indirectly in the first half, wasted no time in the second. It was Ribery - his confidence clearly brimming - who opened the Bavarians' account just two minutes after the restart. Taking possession just outside the area on the left, as he had done so often in the first half, the dangerous Frenchman opted for the near corner this time - and beat the unsighted goalkeeper with a fierce shot.
There followed another period of Bayern dominance, which they were unable to capitalize on once again. It was Chelsea who had the better chances - after a mix-up in Bayern's defense, Oscar was denied by Neuer when he only had the big German to beat, then David Luiz missed a glorious headed chance from a Frank Lampard free-kick.
Bayern were handed an advantage in the 85th minute as Chelsea's Ramires was sent off for a second yellow card, leaving the Munich side with a man advantage for extra time.
Not that the Londoners let it bother them. Just three minutes into extra time, Hazard produced a moment of individual brilliance to make it 2-1. The Frenchman ran onto a pass from the center-circle own the left, cut into the penalty area (leaving Philipp Lahm and Jerome Boateng for dead on the way), and smashed into the same spot that Ribery had found at the start of the second half.
Bayern made their advantage tell for the rest of extra-time, but struggled against a solid Chelsea defense and a superlative Cech in goal. At least that was the case until the last four seconds of injury time, when a David Alaba cross bounced off Dante in the box and dropped into the path of substitute Javi Martinez, who slotted the ball home from close range.
The penalty shoot-out was flawless from both sides until Lukaku was left with the short straw. Manuel Neuer stopped the Belgian striker's shot. It was the first time in five penalties that the Munich keeper had dived the right way.