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Drogba fires Chelsea to Champions League glory

Updated: 2012-05-20 07:56

Drogba fires Chelsea to Champions League glory

Chelsea's players celebrate with the trophy after their Champions League final soccer match against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in Munich, May 19, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

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

Veteran Cote d'Ivoire Drogba, who had equalized 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.

Russian owner Roman Abramovic, whose eyes have been fixed on Europe's biggest prize since buying the club, could barely contain his joy as Frank Lampard, skipper on the night in place of the suspended John Terry, held the trophy aloft on a memorable night in Bavaria.

It had looked an unlikely climax when Bayern, playing in their home stadium, were finally rewarded for their dominance when Tomas Mueller made the breakthrough they craved with an 83rd minute header past Petr Cech.

Within touching distance of lifting the famous trophy for the first time since 2001, all Bayern's hard graft was undone with two minutes remaining when Drogba met Juan Mata's corner with a thumping header past Neuer.

Drogba fires Chelsea to Champions League glory

Chelsea's Didier Drogba celebrates with the trophy after their Champions League final soccer match against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in Munich May 19, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

Bayern, four-times winners, were deflated 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 by holding their nerve to become London's first European champions and guarantee a place in next season's competition despite only finishing sixth in the Premier League.

"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 equalizer) changed the game. Life is fantastic."

Stand-in manager Roberto Di Matteo, who still does not know whether he will be retained next season, praised the heart of his players who have continually defied the odds.

"We have a group of players with a big heart...that was the only way we could achieve this trophy," the Italian told ITV.

"Drogba has been incredible for this club. It's just been an incredible three months, intense and demanding for everybody."

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 and one that brought back bitter memories if their last-gasp defeat at the hands of Manchester United in the Nou Camp in 1999.

"That's football," Bayern's goalscorer Mueller said. "We have seen it before in the past - that it is not necessarily the better side that has the cup in its hands after a match." 

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