Chelsea 1 Bayern Munich 1 – Champions League final (May 19, 2012)
This is it! Our journey through the 10 most-exciting Chelsea matches finishes with us lifting the greatest prize of all.
The knockout stages of our 2011/12 European Champions League (ECL) campaign provided jaw-dropping drama. The comeback victory over Napoli and the heroics in the semi-final against Barcelona had Chelsea fans on the edge of their seats. But there was more to come in the competition finale.
For the 100th ECL game under owner Roman Abramovich, the Blues were up against it even before kickoff. The showpiece was at the Allianz Arena, the home stadium of our opponents Bayern Munich. We were led into the lions’ den by interim manager Roberto Di Matteo.
We also were missing four key players: Branislav Ivanovic, Ramires, Raul Meireles and, most damaging of all, captain John Terry. With that quartet suspended, it meant a tournament debut for Ryan Bertrand – the first player to make his ECL bow in the final.
Bayern had the better of the first half, Petr Cech saving from ex-teammate Arjen Robben, and Mario Gómez shooting wide. The Germans continued to press after the break, Franck Ribery’s strike ruled offside, Thomas Müller missing from a good position. However, Mueller made up for his miss with seven minutes left, meeting Toni Kroos’ cross to head Bayern in front.
But with only two minutes to go, and as was so often the case during his Chelsea career, Didier Drogba powered home a header from Frank Lampard’s corner. The Londoners were level, and we headed to extra-time.
Within minutes, the Ivorian went from hero to villain. His tackle on Ribery led to a penalty-kick, but the Blues found another hero as Cech flung low to save from Robben. Neither team could force the breakthrough, and for our second successive ECL final, it came down to penalties.
Yet again, the Blues quickly had the odds stacked against them, and they tumbled 2–0, and then 3–1 behind. Once more Cech rescued us with a save from Ivica Olic, followed by Bastian Schweinsteiger hitting the post after a touch from Cech. This gave Drogba the chance to win it.
The coolest man in the ground fired home to give Chelsea a 4–3 shootout victory – the first, and still the only, London club to be crowned Champions of Europe. After a list of nine exciting matches for Chelsea, this was by far a fan favorite and top pick to conclude our countdown.