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Saturday, May 19, 2012
Updated: May 20, 3:12 PM ET
Grades for Chelsea, Bayern Munich

By Ravi Ubha

Bayern Munich hit the post, had a goal disallowed, missed a penalty in extra time and fired more than 30 shots off target.

Didier Drogba
Man for the big occasion: Chelsea's win over Bayern was Didier Drogba's greatest moment for the club.

No, it wasn't the Bavarians' night.

As retired Manchester United defender-turned-analyst Gary Neville hinted in Munich on Saturday, a greater power was on Chelsea's side, and the Blues finally won their first Champions League title -- in a penalty shootout -- after getting so close so often. A greater power, along with Didier Drogba and Petr Cech.

One could sense this outcome ever since Chelsea rode its luck to upset almighty Barcelona in the semifinals. Roman Abramovich, who has pumped hundreds of millions into Chelsea, has the piece of silverware he has wanted since taking ownership in 2003.

Player ratings: (0-10; 10=best)

Bayern Munich

G Manuel Neuer, 5.5: Will the German international think he should have done better on Drogba's tying goal in the 88th minute? He got a hand to it, but it wasn't strong enough. Maybe the lack of action for him in the opening 85 minutes affected his concentration. But Neuer made a save in the shootout -- and scored.

D Diego Contento, 6: For someone short of experience, stand in Contento acquitted himself well, even if Franck Ribery was somewhat annoyed with their partnership on the left. He made a last-ditch clearance in the box, his cross led to a shot on target for Thomas Muller and he earned a free kick in a dangerous spot.

D Anatoliy Tymoschuk, 5.5: Heading into the game, the Ukrainian international was thought of as a liability covering in the center of defense for Holger Badstuber. But with Bayern doing most of the pressing, he was hardly called into action. Deceived by Drogba in the second half, he earlier prevented a scoring chance with a timely header.

D Jerome Boateng, 4: Boateng's job, along with Tymoschuk, was to keep a close eye on Drogba. But on Chelsea's first corner, he let Drogba get away from him, and the Ivorian's bullet header kept Chelsea alive. It wasn't a good couple weeks for Boateng, who struggled in the German Cup final.

D Philipp Lahm, 6.5: There was no faulting Lahm's performance. He barely put a foot wrong. For most of the game he was content to sit back and not overlap with Arjen Robben. He pushed forward in extra time and set up Ivica Olic with a wonderfully floated ball. Redemption for a miss in the semifinals, he started the penalty shootout well for Bayern.

M Bastian Schweinsteiger, 7: Bayern's heart, Schweinsteiger put in a great shift. He was immense -- all class -- and ran the show in midfield. How cruel it was that Schweinsteiger, Mr. Bayern, struck the post in the penalty shootout before Drogba's finishing touch.

M Toni Kroos, 6: Filling in for Luiz Gustavo in a more withdrawn role in midfield, Kroos began sloppily, misplacing passes and shooting without success from distance (which miffed manager Jupp Heynckes). But given how Bayern controlled the tempo, it's hard to fault him overly. And he set up Muller's goal.

M Arjen Robben, 4: Robben got himself into good positions the entire night. But once there, he did nothing. He failed to score on a breakaway in the 2010 World Cup final, and now he has erred on a chance to give Bayern the Champions League title from the spot. If Heynckes had options on the bench, perhaps he would have substituted the Dutchman after the miss. He was out of sorts.

M Thomas Muller, 5.5: This could have been Muller's night. He was in the right place at the right time, eluding Ashley Cole to convert Kroos' cross and give Bayern a 1-0 lead. His header was placed perfectly, and it had to be that good to beat Cech.

M Franck Ribery, 6: Like Robben, the Frenchman was lively. But he shot off target, like most of his teammates. Better: Ribery won a deserved penalty in extra time and created chances for Mario Gomez. He was fractionally offside on a goal disallowed early in the second half.

F Mario Gomez, 4.5: If only Gomez had finished his chances in the first half like he did in the penalty shootout: His well-struck penalty easily beat Cech. But Gomez shot over the bar when in a good spot in the first half and on two other occasions took an extra touch when it wasn't needed. It looked like Euro 2008 all over again.

Relevant subs

F Ivica Olic 5: Olic should have shot instead of attempting to pass to fellow sub Daniel van Buyten in extra time after Lahm's sumptuous ball, and his missed penalty was the turning point in the shootout.


G Petr Cech, 8: Cech has been in outstanding form in the past two months, back to his best. Saturday was a continuation. He made a fine leg save to deny Robben with bodies in the way, guessed the right way to stop Robben's PK in extra time and palmed away Olic's penalty in the shootout. It's all good news for the Czech Republic.

D Ashley Cole, 7: Yes, Cole was beaten on Muller's goal and earned a yellow card for hacking down Muller. But in the latter, he took one for the team when Juan Mata relinquished possession. He also had to babysit Ryan Bertrand in front of him, smashed home a penalty in the shootout and made a vital block. He remains one of the world's best left backs.

D David Luiz, 5.5: Luiz hadn't played for more than a month because of a hamstring injury, so that needs to be factored into the equation. Within the opening 30 minutes he tried to hip check Robben and then took down Muller to give away a free kick. In the second half, he was skinned by Robben. But neither the penalty nor Bayern's goal was of his doing. And he delivered the penalty kick of the night, blasting it into the corner.

D Gary Cahill, 6.5: What a buy Cahill has been for Chelsea. He was solid in the first leg of the semifinals against Barcelona and was impressive Saturday. Following in the footsteps of John Terry, he's never afraid to get his body in the way of shots.

D Jose Bosingwa, 5.5: Was Bosingwa appearing on "Dancing with the Stars"? It looked that way given how he kept shifting his feet and backtracking, trying to deal with Ribery. Thankfully for him, one half of Bayern's usual attacking duo down the left was suspended (David Alaba). Kroos' cross came from his area of the pitch.

M John Obi Mikel, 6.5: Mikel tried to break up Bayern's possession and shelter the back four. He didn't disgrace himself. He was fortunate, though, that Bayern didn't take advantage of the free kick he gave away in the second half of extra time.

M Frank Lampard, 6: In the semifinals and final, Lampard shifted from offensive midfielder to a defensive-minded one. Maybe that's the way going forward for his 34-year-old legs. Like Luiz and Cole, he buried his penalty in the shootout with Chelsea trailing.

M Ryan Bertrand, 4.5: Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo sprung a surprise by opting for the inexperienced Bertrand. Not only was he making his first Champions League appearance, but he was doing so out of position, as a midfielder, not left back. But he wasn't in the game.

M Juan Mata, 5: For most of the affair, Mata was ineffective. At least twice, he sputtered with Chelsea on promising counterattacks. But Chelsea fans will remember him as the man who delivered the corner that led to Drogba's goal.

M Salomon Kalou, 5: Kalou has been revitalized under di Matteo, who (for some reason) is a fan. Some fancy footwork got Kalou out of trouble in the first half, but Bayern's possession game meant he didn't see a lot of the ball before being subbed.

F Didier Drogba, 7.5: Drogba was Chelsea's MVP this season in the Champions League (with Cech not far behind). The mark of a good striker, when his only chance came he converted with two minutes remaining. Cech bailed him out after he conceded a penalty, and Drogba had the last word in the shootout. Bye, bye, memories of the 2008 final.

Relevant subs

F Fernando Torres, 6: Torres looked lively when he entered for Kalou in the 84th minute. He went down theatrically, though, in trying to win a penalty.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for You can follow him on Twitter here.