INTERNATIONAL. Didier Drogba was the Chelsea hero as Roman Abramovich finally completed his Champions League odyssey with a 4-3 win on penalties over Bayern Munich after the score was tied 1-1 after extra-time.
Trailing to Thomas Muller's late header, Drogba first saved the Blues by heading them level in the 88th minute. Then, after Arjen Robben had missed from the spot in extra-time, Drogba kept his nerve after Ivica Olic and Bastian Schweinsteiger had failed in the shoot-out to ensure Chelsea erased the memory of their misery in 2008.
Conquering Europe for the first time must surely be enough to secure Roberto Di Matteo the full-time job as Chelsea boss. After all, following so many failures, Di Matteo has delivered the trophy Abramovich spent the thick end of £2billion to win.
Assisted by the obvious advantage of playing at home, Bayern got themselves on the front foot immediately and were rarely pushed back.
The nearest they came was when former Chelsea man Robben glided past two defenders, then drilled a low shot towards goal, which Petr Cech managed to deflect high onto a post, with Robben barely able to believe he had failed.
Chelsea might have had something to celebrate had Juan Mata kept his curling free-kick down or Salomon Kalou been able to direct a shot away from Manuel Neuer after Frank Lampard and Drogba combined to set him up from an admittedly acute angle.
The pattern continued after half-time and Franck Ribery thought he had grabbed a deserved opener when he snaffled the loose ball after the superb Ashley Cole had blocked Robben's goalbound shot. The offside flag cut German celebrations short.
The sense of Chelsea disappointment at Bayern finally breaching their defences must have been made more acute by the knowledge that when Toni Kroos curled a cross beyond the far post, there appeared little danger. Muller headed the ball hard and down, beating Cech via the underside of the crossbar.
With barely a minute remaining, Drogba rose at the near post to power Mata's corner home. This time there was nothing the goalkeeper could do, the ball speeding past Manuel Neuer at such pace, from so close, there was no time for reaction.
The drama continued into extra-time as Drogba bundled Ribery over in the box. The contact might not have looked much, but it was enough to end the Frenchman's evening. Robben seemed unaffected by the delay as his penalty headed for the bottom corner but Cech was equal to it, making a superb save to his left and smothering the rebound.