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Chelsea beats Bayern Munich in UEFA Champions League final

Germans dominate, but Didier Drogba gives Chelsea the victory on penalty kicks. It is Chelsea's first European title.

May 19, 2012|By Kevin Baxter
  • Chelsea players celebrate Didier Drogba's game-winning penalty kick.
Chelsea players celebrate Didier Drogba's game-winning penalty… (Martin Meissner / Associated…)

When Didier Drogba's penalty kick hit the back of the net in Munich's Allianz Arena on Saturday, giving Chelsea a 4-3 win over Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League final, David Engelberg leapt to his feet in a bar half a world away and pumped his fist.

Engelberg then quickly surveyed the room and noticed he was the only one standing — indeed, he was the only one smiling — and quietly sat back down. Celebrating a Munich loss in a faux German beer hall, it turns out, is bad form.

But that didn't stop Engelberg from smiling.

"You've got to stand up in life for what you believe in," said Engelberg, who wore a blue Chelsea jersey to watch the game at the Alpine Village in Torrance. "And so I figured I'm going to do it."

Even if he wasn't completely sure he deserved to.

"Bayern should have won 5-1," he whispered. "Bayern gave it to them."

Indeed, the Germans dominated every statistic but the final score, putting more than twice as many shots on goal, drawing nearly twice as many fouls and taking 20 corner kicks to just one for Chelsea.

But there was only one Didier Drogba in the game and that proved enough to give Chelsea its first European title, capping a wild season of destiny that saw the Blues fire their coach and finish sixth in the English Premier League only to, in the last two weeks, win the FA Cup and now one of club soccer's most prestigious prizes under interim Manager Roberto Di Matteo.

Saturday's match was scoreless — and largely one-sided — for 82 minutes as wave after wave of Bayern attackers charged toward the Chelsea goal only to be turned away empty-handed as the Blues, playing without suspended captain John Terry, defended in numbers.

Thomas Mueller finally broke the spell in the 83rd minute, bouncing a header off the crossbar and behind Chelsea keeper Petr Cech to give Munich a 1-0 lead with less than seven minutes to play in regular time.

However, Drogba, the Ivory Coast star whose contract with Chelsea expires next month, was determined not to go out a loser, tying the score with a driving header just inside the near post in the 88th minute to send the game to overtime.

Drogba then inadvertently gave Munich a chance to win in the extra period, fouling Franck Ribery in the penalty box. But that turned out to be nothing more than another golden opportunity wasted for Munich when Cech made a diving save on Arjen Robben's penalty shot.

Robben didn't get a chance to make up for that in the shootout, though that seemed unlikely to matter after Munich had built a 3-2 lead after three rounds and once again had its fifth UEFA title within reach.

Even then the Bavarians couldn't close it out.

Ivica Olic, playing his last competitive match for Bayern, chummed his kick, and then Bastian Schweinsteiger, the hero of Munich's penalty-kick win over Real Madrid in the semifinals, had his effort deflected by Cech off the right post.

That put the game, once again, at Drogba's feet — and once again he didn't miss, driving his shot into the left corner as keeper Manuel Neuer dove the other way, setting off wild street celebrations in London.

Munich was chasing more than just a championship in Saturday's final — playing on its home pitch, it was chasing history as well, since Inter Milan, in 1965, was the last team to win a European Cup title at home. And the Bayern fans marked the occasion by unfurling a banner that read Unser Stadt, Unser Stadion, Unser Pokal — our city, our stadium, our cup

Instead, the Bayern fans had to settle for an unsatisfying consolation prize — and in the most stunning way possible, with an English team beating a German team on penalty kicks in a high-profile match.

"They are the first host that lost the final," Alexander Hast, a downcast Bayern fan, said as he shuffled out of Alpine Village, the German oompah music in the background now sounding more like a funeral dirge.

And to think, all it cost Roman Abramovich, the Russian oil tycoon who bought Chelsea in 2003, was $1.59 billion.

"In many ways, Chelsea represents our modern sports world," summed up Fox Soccer studio host Curt Menefee. "A legendary English club, owned by a Russian billionaire, whose star player — an African from the Ivory Coast — just scored the two biggest goals of his life, and at the same time became what we would call a free agent."

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