It took them an additional 30 minutes of extra time. It took them five penalty chances, making four of them. But finally, Chelsea finally secures the UEFA Champions League title it has craved for the first time in their 107 years of existence and burying the miseries of Moscow four years earlier.
A Didier Drogba header from a Juan Mata corner provided the Blues' lone goal in the match in the 88', five minutes after they allowed a goal from Thomas Müller. The FA Cup winners had to fend off many opportunities by the Bavarians throughout the first ninety minutes, knowing that key players were missing the final due to suspension, led by team captain John Terry. Bayern's forays was led by French international Franck Ribery, Dutch international Arjen Robben and German international Mario Gomez.
With key players missing, interim manager Roberto di Matteo inserted Ryan Bertrand in the lineup to help compensate with the absence of its stalwarts. He made his Champions League debut on Saturday, the first time that someone had made his Champions League debut in the final in its recent history. With Terry missing, David Luiz and Gary Cahill formed at partnership in central defence, while newly-minted England captain Frank Lampard secured the armband for this particular fixture. Chelsea played similarly to how they handled FC Barcelona in the semifinals.
Statistics reflected the styles of play that both sides opted with. The hosts put up 35 shot attempts (8 on target), compared to only 9 (3 on target) for the visitors. In fact, Drogba's lone goal came from a corner kick opportunity from Juan Mata that he headed into the net. On the other hand, Bayern would rue the missed opportunities it had in its grasp, from Gomez's chances throughout the match, to a second-half Ribery goal nullified by an offside call, to an extra time penalty that Robben kicked straight to Petr Cech.
Just as it was at the Luzhniki Stadium that fateful time, Chelsea will have to try to win it from the penalty spot. Mata put the Blues in an early hole by missing the first spot kick. Bayern, who made it to the final by beating Real Madrid in this manner, converted on their first three attempts, with the keeper Manuel Neuer knocking the third kick in. David Luiz and Frank Lampard matched Bayern's conversions with makes of their own, to keep things in step. Then, Petr Cech stepped up to the plate, saving Ivica Olic's shot that could have won it for Munich. Ashley Cole then comes in to even the score.
To set the final drama, Bastian Schweinsteiger hit the post on his chance to clinch the victory, evoking memories again of 2008, as it had happened to John Terry. That missed opportunity the German international will be ruing for awhile, as Didier Drogba cooly sank the final penalty attempt to seal the first Champions League title for a London-based club. The Ivorian could have been the goat, as his clumsy tackle attempt during extra-time warranted the penalty that fortunately for him was saved.
It has been a week since the result, and I still remain fascinated by this match. The back story is movie-script ready. Interim manager leads team to greater heights, playing football quite contrary to what was visualized by the original manager, and there is still no updates on whether the interim tag will be removed. The recently resigned England manager Fabio Capello was at the Allianz Arena watching the match.
There are issues already with the upcoming end of the contract of Drogba, who has pretty much said that he will be leaving the club that he has been with for eight years. The Blues are already going to ending their relationship with Salomon Kalou and Jose Bosingwa, both of whom started in the final. Spanish forward Fernando Torres, a day after winning the trophy, was already speaking about his disappointments over the past concluded season, which included not being on the starting XI for the final as well as not being among the first five penalty kick takers.
But all of those mitigating circumstances cannot take away from the achievements of Chelsea. They succeeded in pulling off a cup double and at the same time, ensured their opponents got a runners-up treble. Discounted by all, but not by each other, pulling themselves together and played their best when it mattered the most, sacrificing themselves just so they can achieve team glory.
Savor the moment. Enjoy it. From the looks of things to come, it might just be a different view of Stamford Bridge that awaits everyone next season.