Chelsea waits until final minutes to lock up title | The Triangle
Men's Soccer

Chelsea waits until final minutes to lock up title

Chelsea FC’s Didier Drogba, left, tackles DC United’s Brian Carroll in the first half July 28, 2005. Drogba and Chelsea recently won the Champions League.
Didier Drogba steps back, takes the penalty to his left and displaces Manuel Neuer, who jumps to Drogba’s right. The ball goes in, and Chelsea Football Club wins its first-ever UEFA Champions League title!

That was the most crucial moment of one of the most exciting Champions League finals in recent memory. Bayern Munich went into the final as the favorite to win and lived up to that expectation for most of the game, holding the ball for about 56 percent of the game. Bayern had a total of 35 shots, but only seven of were on goal. Chelsea, on the other hand, was somewhat more clinical, scoring on one of only nine shots, three of which were on net.

Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery were combining well for most of the first half, and everyone in the stadium was chanting their portmanteau, “Robbery.” One of their combinations led to the most dangerous moment of the first half — Robben’s shot after a 1-2 with the Frenchman was blocked by goaltender Petr Cech’s foot and then rebounded off the post. Also of note in the first half were Mario Gomez’s wasted opportunities in front of the goal; he was presented with at least three clear chances to open the scoring and couldn’t produce.

The second half picked up where the first had left off, with Bayern invigorated by the fans’ Bavarian chant of “Mia San Mia,” which translates to, “We are who we are.” They were, however, unable to find the back of the net until the 82nd minute, when Thomas Mueller ran behind David Luiz and Ashley Cole to head home a beautiful cross from Bastian Schweinsteiger. Everyone thought he won the final for Bayern — everyone except Drogba. Six minutes later, he headed the ball into the top corner following a well-calibrated cross from Juan Manuel Mata.

With the score level at 1-1, the teams headed into extra time. In the fifth minute of the first half of extra time, Drogba tripped Ribery in the area, and Robben stepped up to take the penalty. However, his shot was weak and was blocked by an immense Cech. A demoralized Bayern lost control of the game, and Chelsea enjoyed more territory for the remaining 25 minutes. Even so, the score was still tied, so the champion would be decided by a penalty shootout.

Bayern captain Philipp Lahm went first, and he coolly dispatched his penalty on his right corner. Neuer then proved why he is considered one of the best keepers in the world by making a great save on Mata’s attempt. Mario Gomez, David Luiz, Neuer and Frank Lampard converted their penalties before Ivica Olic was denied by the Chelsea goalkeeper. Cole then made his penalty for Chelsea, and Bayern’s talisman, Schweinsteiger, hit the post. At this point the fate of Chelsea rested in Drogba’s hands — or feet — and he delivered.

Chelsea won its first-ever Champions League trophy, with Roberto Di Matteo as head coach. Drogba’s performance was lauded worldwide, and he was named man of the match. They say Elysian Fields is the place where heroes’ souls rest. Chelsea players have reserved their spots. They were true heroes during the Champions League campaign, and they are the deserving winners.