Chelsea win thrilling Champions League final | News and current affairs from Germany and around the world | DW | 19.05.2012
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Chelsea win thrilling Champions League final

Chelsea have won European soccer's top club competition, the Champions League. Playing at home in Munich, Bayern dominated the 120 minutes of open play, but Chelsea came through in the penalty shootout.

Playing at their home ground, Munich's Allianz Arena, Bayern had the majority of possession and control straight from the start of the game. Early shots came from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos. Dutch superstar Arjen Robben made a great run in the 21st minute but his low shot was blocked well by Chelsea keeper Petr Cech.

It seemed clear from early on that Chelsea were simply prepared to defend and wait for a chance to counterattack.

Their few attempts upfield ended in vain - only a shot from Salomon Kalou in the 37th minute did anything to test Bayern's goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer.

In the 43rd minute, Mario Gomez smashed the ball over the bar from 12 meters out - it was one of the clearest chances of the half. As the teams went in for the half time break, the only thing you could fault about Bayern was the fact that they hadn't scored.

A dramatic second half

Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller (bottom) celebrates with team mates his goal against Chelsea.

Bayern scored first in Munich through a Thomas Müller header, but in the end it wasn't enough.

Bayern picked up exactly where they left off in the second half, with their attacking pairing of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben both causing problems for the Chelsea defense.

Ribery finally buried the ball into the back of the net in the 52nd minute, but it didn't count. The linesman had his flag up quickly to signal offside against the Frenchman.

The goal for Bayern finally came for Thomas Müller in the 83rd minute following a cross from Toni Kroos. Local fans and Bayern players celebrated wildly, thinking that the result was assured.

Watch video 01:22

Chelsea wins Champions League

But Chelsea weren't about to roll over and die. From their first corner of the game, their striker Didier Drogba was able to steal a superb header, surprising the hosts and leveling the score just five minutes after Bayern had taken the lead.

In the final moments of the game, Chelsea were even able to put the hosts under pressure, with German national keeper Manuel Neuer being tested considerably.

Extra time and penalties

Bayern Munich had one of their best chances to make sure of the title when Franck Ribery was brought down in the box, in the first phase of extra time. Arjen Robben stepped forward to take the penalty.

His shot was powerful but too straight, and Cech made the save easily. In the remainder of extra time neither team was able to beat the opposing side's keeper.

In the ensuing penalties, Bayern Munich's players weren't able to hold their nerve, despite their success on penalties in the semi-final against Real Madrid. Bastian Schweinsteiger's shot hit the post, giving Ivory Coast international Didier Drogba the chance to be the hero. He made no mistake, beating Neuer to win the shootout 4-3 and set off the celebrations for Chelsea and their thousands of supporters in the stadium.

For Bayern and their fans there was a terrible empty feeling.

"This was not about who won in the penalties," Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes told reporters after the game. "This was about us not using our chances to win the game. It is purely our fault that we did not use our many chances. My team played an outstanding game against an opponent who played as we expected them to do," said Heynckes, who coached Real Madrid to the title in 1998.

Bastian Schweinsteiger of Bayern Munich pauses during his team's penalty against Chelsea during their Champions League final soccer match at the Allianz Arena in Munich, May 19, 2012.

For Bastian Schweinsteiger it was another missed opportunity in Munich on Saturday night.

For Bayern it was a particularly bitter defeat, not only because they squandered the rare chance to win a Champions League final on their home ground, but also because this had been their last chance to make amends for what by their high standards had been a disappointing season. Not only had they failed to win the Bundesliga, but they were handily beaten by Dortmund in the German Cup final one week ago.

Bayern president Uli Hoeness said that on Saturday at least, his club had nobody to blame but themselves.

"We scored our goal at a great moment, then we get a penalty and have a superb chance through (Ivica) Olic and then we still can't do it,” Hoeness said. "If you have that many chances you have to seal the deal."

For Chelsea, this is the first Champions League title in the Premier League club's history, after they finished as runners-up in 2008. Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard who wore the captain’s armband on the night, gave much of the credit for the title to Didier Drogba.

"We didn't play fantastic but the main man Didier dug us out of trouble there," Lampard said. "He's a hero. Without him we're not here. He scores the goals in the big games."

Author: André Leslie
Editor: Chuck Penfold / sgb

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