UEFA Champions League Final
Saturday, 19th May 2012
Chelsea 1 Bayern Munich 1 (4-3 on penalties)
On an electric night in May 2012, our quest to become European champions was finally fulfilled as we defeated Bayern Munich on penalties in the Bavarian club's own stadium.
Despite entering the final with four players missing due to suspension, a breathtaking display of defensive resilience saw us keep Bayern out until the 83rd minute, when Thomas Muller's header crashed off the crossbar and past Petr Cech. It looked like all was lost until Didier Drogba rose highest to power in an equaliser from Juan Mata's corner, bringing the game, as in Moscow four years earlier, to extra time. Cech saved Arjen Robben's penalty in the first half of added time, before keeping out both Ivica Olić and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the resulting penalty shootout. Fittingly, Drogba won it with his last kick in a Chelsea shirt, sending Manuel Neuer the wrong way to secure our first Champions League trophy and see us crowned Kings of Europe.
Our Champions League campaign began positively with a 2-0 victory over German side Bayer Leverkusen in September, before 1-1 draws against Valencia and KRC Genk, and a 2-1 loss to Leverkusen saw us struggle to impose ourselves on Group E. A Drogba double and a goal from Ramires in the home game against Valencia saw us qualify top of the group and enter the knockout stages, where we had to overcome a 3-1 deficit after the away leg against an impressive Napoli side, winning 5-4 on aggregate thanks to one of those special European nights at Stamford Bridge. Benfica were beaten in both legs of the quarter final to set up a meeting with the 2011 European champions Barcelona in the semis.
The first leg at Stamford Bridge saw us come away with a hard-fought 1-0 victory, Drogba making the most of one of few opportunities to give us the advantage. However in Spain, an early injury to Gary Cahill and the dismissal of our captain John Terry helped Barcelona who put two past Cech during the first half of the match at Camp Nou.
Undaunted, Ramires received a visionary through-ball from Frank Lampard on the stroke of half-time and sensationally chipped Victor Valdes to make the score 2-1. A nerve-wracking second half saw us weather an unrelenting onslaught from the Catalan club, with Lionel Messi missing a penalty before late substitute Fernando Torres found himself clean through on goal. The striker ran half the length of the pitch and rounded Valdes, sending the bench and the away fans into paroxysms of joy, and ensuring our passage to the final and eventual Champions League glory.