Five years ago in Munich, John Terry was a picture of abject misery, slipping on the slick Luzhniki Stadium turf and missing his penalty as Utd held off Chelsea in a heartbreaking loss.
Today, we saw Chelsea do the impossible as they held Bayern at the Allianz Arena, their home stadium, through full time and extra time for 120+ minutes through so many near death experiences. The 82nd minute goal by Thomas Mueller appeared to have spelled doom but Didier Drogba's powerful header five minutes later off Chelsea's first corner restored parity sending the visiting fans who had gone silent into a screaming celebratory frenzy.
Drogba now turned villain in extra time unforgivably clipping Franck Ribery on the heel bringing him down in the box. There was no doubt it was a penalty as the Ivoirian looked agonized. Arjen Robben who had been having his problems with accuracy all evening elected to go for power and Cech guessed correctly diving to his left to gather the ball resuscitating Chelsea's dreams again. It was then one this feeling that this was going to end very badly for Bayern.
With the penalty shootout tantalizingly poised at 4-4, Bastian Schweinsteiger stepped up to take the spot. There were some doubts with fatigue but the veteran midfielder and a Bavarian legend looked calm in his set up, put Cech at his mercy with a nice stutter step in his run up and then pushed the ball calamitously onto the upright. The stage was set for Drogba who was not part of the Champions League final five years ago to seal the final for the Blues and send Bayern into a world of pain. This might be his final match for Chelsea and if it is one cannot think of a better send off. It also ended Chelsea's five year odyssey from Moscow to Munich, a journey strewn with bitterness and anger at perceived refereeing injustices and close calls.
One also cannot write enough that the only statistic in football that matters is goals. By now one would think the number of times one repeats that axiom would rob it of its potency. And so Bayern found out in the throes off its death spiral that was what they could have done, should have done, but did not do. Opportunities came fast and furious but Mario Gomez, Mueller, and Robben were woeful in their finish. Gomez in particular was abject flubbing three chances in front of goal that the normally sharp shooting German would have put away in his sleep. Set pieces were no better as Bayern racked up 16 corners before Chelsea got their first which produced an instantaneous result.
Jupp Heynckes decision to sub Mueller after he scored to bring in Daniel Van Buyten effectively pushing Anatoli Tymoschuk into a holding midfielder role put the brakes on the Bayern attack and gradually more ground was ceded to Chelsea. It is no coincidence the equalizer was conceded in this reconfiguration. That decision will get much attention. Drogba's decision to clip Ribery was also on hindsight the best thing that could have happened because the winger collapsed with cramps following that and he had to leave. In his absence Chelsea loaded the left flank as Lahm and Robben predictably made their forays into that channel to be stopped by a defense that played its heart out.
David Luiz and Ashley Cole cannot be praised enough. The number of blocks the Chelsea defense made Lebron James eat his heart out. Every time a Bayern player swung his leg there was a blue jersey throwing himself in front of him to neutralize his shot. Barcelona must feel better because they know now this was a Blues team completing its destiny.
This was the second week in a row of nerve wracking, nail biting finishes. Last Sunday saw City stage a miraculous two goal comeback in stoppage time to win their first Premiership title. One cannot think of a more unforgettable season in football's long history. It certainly is in Chelsea's 107 year history collecting the famous double.
What does this mean for Roberto Di Matteo? One cannot think of a better way of rewarding Di Matteo by making his position permanent in what has been a special three months for the club whey turned everything around and marched the other way winning everything meaningful except winning the Premiership. In the end their sixth placed finish in the Premiership did not hurt them one bit. Congratulations!