Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Bayern Munich leave Bourssia Dortmund flattened and in tears after magnificent Champions League final

BORUSSIA DORTMUND 1 BAYERN MUNICH 2

Bayern Munich players celebrate as they lift the UEFA Champions League trophy during the UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 25, 2013. See PA Story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only when not based solely on any team and/or any player(s) and/or devoted to the UEFA Champions League. No commercial use. Call 44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Bayern Munich players celebrate as they lift the UEFA Champions League trophy during the UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 25, 2013.
Bayern Munich's Philip Lahm lifts the UEFA Champions League trophy during the UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 25, 2013. See PA Story SOCCER Final. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only when not based solely on any team and/or any player(s) and/or devoted to the UEFA Champions League. No commercial use. Call 44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Bayern Munich's Philip Lahm lifts the UEFA Champions League trophy during the UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday May 25, 2013.
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25:  Borussia Dortmund fans ahead of the UEFA Champions League final match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Muenchen at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2013 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25: Borussia Dortmund fans ahead of the UEFA Champions League final match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Muenchen at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2013 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Arjen Robben provided the perfect answer to the doubters by scoring an 88th-minute winner to settle a brilliant Champions League final in favour of Bayern Munich at Wembley.

The glory goal came 12 months after Robben's lowest point, when he missed the penalty that would have beaten Chelsea.

Tonight that frustration was forgotten as Bayern joined Liverpool as five-times winners of Europe's most prestigious competition, leaving Borussia Dortmund flattened and in tears at a magnificent effort that went unrewarded.

Not that either side deserved to lose an outstanding game that no neutral would have complained if it had gone to an extra 30 minutes.

Indeed, the only person who might wonder at the glory of it all is Pep Guardiola, who takes over at Bayern next season having to improve on a campaign that, by next week, may well have ended with a treble.

The only worry from either side appearing on the grandest stage was that the presence of the other would bring a degree of caution to proceedings.

After all, the pair had proved beyond doubt this season that they are the best two sides in Europe.

That a thrill-a-minute opening period ended goalless was a wonder in itself. The reasons were mainly found in the inspired performances of respective goalkeepers Manuel Neuer and Roman Weidenfeller, plus the profligacy of Robben.

In the opening 25 minutes, as the yellow Dortmund shirts buzzed around furiously, Neuer was Bayern's hero.

Germany's number one keeper tipped over a long-range Robert Lewandowski effort, turned away Jakub Blaszczykowski's low shot with his feet and also denied Sven Bender.

It was phenomenal stuff from Neuer as Bayern's stretched defence struggled to cope with the raw pace and enthusiasm of their Bundesliga rivals.

Slowly though, the contest began to turn.

Mario Mandzukic reacted with fury when Robben went for goal rather than square a pass into his path that would have left a vacant net to tap into, only for Weidenfeller to make the first of his series of splendid saves.

From the corner, Weidenfeller tipped Mandzukic's header onto the crossbar before the excellent Javi Martinez skimmed a shot just over.

An enthralling contest was encapsulated in the space of seconds just before the break when Lewandowski found room inside the Bayern area to squeeze out a shot which Neuer saved and then immediately launched a counter-attack from.

Through a fortunate bounce and Mats Hummels losing his bearings, Robben ended up face-to-face with Weidenfeller. Again the Dortmund keeper won the personal duel.

It was impossible to imagine the goalless stalemate continuing. And even though some of the earlier zip was missing when the sides reconvened, it did not.

After leading the attacking raid, Robben drifted quietly into space as Franck Ribery assessed his options.

One burst of pace later and Ribery had flicked the ball to his fellow wide-man, drawing Weidenfeller from his line in desperation.

Mandzukic was in a similar place as before. This time Robben found him and the Croatian put Bayern ahead.

Soon after Dante paid the price for an ill-advised attempt at a clearance as he succeeded only in kicking Marco Reus in the stomach. Ilkay Gundogan did the rest from the penalty spot.

There was no debating the decision but, as Dante had previously been booked, there was a strong argument the Brazilian deserved a red card.

Not that there was any time to debate the issue as Neven Subotic miraculously got back to hook Muller's shot off the line before Weidenfeller flung himself in the way of David Alaba's effort.

Muller was convinced he should have had a penalty when he went down under Subotic's challenge but he didn't get one.

Bastian Schweinsteiger was next to find Weidenfeller getting in the way of one of his shots.

But Bayern need not have worried. With extra-time looking certain, Ribery managed to force a backheel through a crowd of defenders inside the Dortmund box.

Robben charged onto it. He kept his cool to nip round a couple of despairing tackles before rolling the ball past Weidenfeller to send Munich into ecstasy.

Player ratings

BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Roman Weidenfeller: A hero for Dortmund, but a fallen one at the end. Neither goal his fault. 8.

Lukasz Piszczek: Found it difficult to deal with Robben when the Dutchman came to his side. 5.

Neven Subotic: Brave, determined, and a brilliant clearance. 7.

Mats Hummels: Dealt with a lot of pressure and usually coped well. 6.

Marcel Schmelzer: Also struggled to cope with Robben's clever play. 5.

Sven Bender: Great start to the match but increasingly found himself bypassed. 6.

Ilkay Gundogan: The pick of the Dortmund midfielders and great penalty. 8.

Jakub Blaszczykowski: A couple of good chances and looked dangerous. 6.

Marco Reus: Lively and inventive, a thorn in Bayern's side. 7.

Kevin Grosskreutz: Never got much change out of Lahm. 6.

Robert Lewandowski: Few clear chances for the man who scored four against Real Madrid. 6.

BAYERN MUNICH

Manuel Neuer: Absolutely outstanding - probably the best keeper in the world right now. 8.

Philipp Lahm: Utterly reliable, always looks unflappable. 7.

Jerome Boateng: Solid force in the middle of the defence. 7.

Dante: Up and down performance, and hugely lucky not be sent off for a second booking after conceding penalty. 5.

David Alaba: Terrific at left-back, and almost scored a belter. 7.

Javi Martinez: Such a cool, strong force in the holding midfield spot. 8.

Bastian Schweinsteiger: Not one of the German international's outstanding games. 6.

Arjen Robben: Man of the match performance as the Dutch winger finally wins a final. 9.

Thomas Muller: Always a threat but his passing was not as crisp as it could be. 7.

Franck Ribery: Made the winning goal but until then his influence had been limited. 6.

Mario Mandzukic: Led the line superbly and an expert finish for the first goal. 8.

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