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Rediff.com  » Sports » Drogba fires Chelsea to Champions League glory

Drogba fires Chelsea to Champions League glory

Last updated on: May 20, 2012 03:49 IST

Chelsea stunned Bayern Munich to win the Champions League for the first time as Didier Drogba struck the decisive blow in a penalty shootout at the Allianz Arena following a tension-soaked final, which ended 1-1 after extra time on Saturday.

Drogba, who had equalised for Chelsea two minutes from the end of normal time, rolled the winning kick past Manuel Neuer as the visitors edged the shootout 4-3 after Bastian Schweinsteiger's last kick for Bayern had hit the post.

Bayern, playing in their home stadium, laid siege to Chelsea's goal for most of the game and appeared to have won it when Thomas Mueller made the breakthrough with an 83rd minute header past Petr Cech.

Within touching distance of lifting the famous trophy for the first time since 2001, Bayern conceded with two minutes remaining when Drogba met a corner with a thumping header to give Neuer no chance.

Bayern, four-times winners, were stunned and extra time could not separate the sides despite Bayern earning a penalty which Arjen Robben had saved by Cech.

Chelsea lost to Manchester United in the 2008 final on penalties but erased that painful memory as they held their nerve to become London's first European champions.

Frank Lampard"I believe a lot in destiny. It was written a long time ago. This team is amazing and I dedicate this cup to all the managers and players we had before," Drogba said.

"(My equaliser) changed the game. Life is fantastic."

Bayern were left to rue a third near miss this season after finishing runners-up in the Bundesliga and the German Cup but this was the harshest of blows.

For much of a compelling, if not free-flowing final, the match resembled a defence versus attack exercise as Bayern poured forward, only to be denied by a wall of blue or their own wastefulness in front of goal.

Both Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez snatched at clear chances as Chelsea rode their luck and manned the barricades as they did in the Nou Camp during their semi-final against Barcelona.

Muller lashed one volley wide from Franck Ribery's cross while the disappointing Gomez showed a surprising lack of composure on several occasions.

Bayern continued to press after the break and did have the ball in the net after 53 minutes only for the celebrations to be cut short as Ribery was adjudged to be offside after Robben's scuffed shot arrived at his feet.

Chelsea soaked up almost constant Bayern possession but in Drogba they still had some menace in attack, the Ivorian failing to connect with one presentable chance after 73 minutes as the tension reached unbearable levels in the stadium.

Chelsea's dogged resistance was finally broken in 83rd minute when Muller arrived at the back post to bounce a header into the net from Toni Kroos's deep cross.

Muller was buried under his joyous team mates as Bayern appeared to have clinched the trophy but there was to be a sting in the tail.

With two minutes remaining, Chelsea earned their first corner and when the ball was swung in Drogba climbed high to crash a header past Neuer.

It was a crushing blow for Bayern and Chelsea sensed their moment, pushing for an unlikely winner in the closing moments as the momentum swung in their favour.

Five minutes into extra time Drogba gave Bayern the perfect chance to go back in front when he clipped the heels of Ribery in the area to concede a penalty but Petr Cech came to his side's rescue with a superb stop to keep out Robben's penalty.

Substitute Ivica Olic had his head in his hands in the second period of extra time as he prodded a volley agonisingly wide of the post with Cech helpless.

The night still seemed to be heading Bayern's way when they moved 3-1 ahead in the penalty shootout after Juan Mata missed Chelsea's first spot kick but Olic missed for Bayern and when Schweinsteiger struck the post the stage was left for Ivorian Drogba to write his name into Chelsea folkore.

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