—– Funny game, football. The Champions League Final was the showpiece of the 150th anniversary of the Football Association but two German teams showed up instead and the party delight was all for Bayern Munich after a thrilling 2-1 win over a heartbroken Borussia Dortmund.
The 86,298 crowd had to wait until the second half for the goals after a feast of enervating football on a dramatic Wembley stage, split between the yellow of Borussia and the Bavarian red. Mario Mandzukic tapped Bayern ahead, Ilkay Gundogan levelled from a penalty and then Arjen Robben won it three minutes from time.
Bayern were favourites. They now need ‘only’ to win the German cup final next weekend to secure the treble after having long since regained the Bundesliga shield. Victory made amends for defeats in the finals of 2010 and last year and turned veteran coach Jupp Heynckes back into a European champion, 15 years after his success with Real Madrid.
Dortmund, having lost their league crown by a clear 25 points, were always the more physically fragile of the two finalists and, ultimately, were run off their feet by a Bayern team with greater reserves of talent and stamina.
None of the usual cup final cat-and-mouse stuff here. Both clubs launched themselves forward at pace as if this were ‘just another’ club duel in the Ruhr or Bavaria.
Dortmund, with Marco Reus wandering across the face of the Bayern defence, were the more threatening in the first quarter. Lewandowski thundered in a 25m drive which Manuel Neuer palmed over the bar. Then Bayern’s goalkeeper stuck out his left foot to defy Jakub Blaszczykowski at close range at the expense of a further corner.
Another few minutes and Neuer punched away a drive from the onrunning Reus, fed by Kevin Grosskreutz. Neuer might have caught the shot but it was swerving in the air and he judged his fists a safer option. Next he was diving to his left to grab a low angled drive from Sven Bender.
Bayern raced down to the other end and might have scored themselves. Dortmund were revealed as vulnerable in the air. Ribery crossed from the left and Mandzukic had a header tipped over by Roman Weidenfeller. Then Javi Martinez headed inches over from the corner.
Minutes later Robben darted free on the right and should have scored rather than allow Weidenfeller to deflect the ball for a corner.
By now Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp, a permanent presence in the technical area, was in a frenzy of tension.
He was right to be worried. The longer the game ran on, the more dangerous Bayern became and Dortmund faded. Thomas Muller glanced a header wide from yet another right-wing corner then Robben should have scored after ‘losing’ Mats Hummels. Instead his toe-poke for goal was blocked by Weidenfeller’s face.
Dortmund’s goalkeeper-captain was beaten eventually right on the hour. Robben crossed to the left, exchanged passes with Ribery then provided the inch-perfect cross so Mandzukic could pop the ball home easily from close range.
Eight minutes later Dortmund were level and right back in the game after Dante panicked and kicked Reus in the lower stomach. Interestingly Lewandowski, who missed a penalty recently against Bayern, chose not to take this kick so it was Gundogan who jabbed home the penalty.
In the 71st Bayern might have been back ahead. Muller raced clear on the right, stepped wide of Weidenfeller and Neven Subotic cleared thrillingly off the line. Minutes later Muller was running free again, this time through the centre, before Subotic pulled him back. Muller was furious when Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli ignored the foul.
Discipline appeared to have fallen apart on both sides. The original tactical shapes had vanished and the mistakes count was mounting on both sides but Bayern, with the finer individual class, appeared to have the edge.
Ribery and Robben kept on running defiantly at the shredded Dortmund defence. When the France forward backheeled a long ball through the heart of defence so the Dutchman skipped over two tackles and pushed the ball wide of the exposed Weidenfeller.
FC Bayern were European champions for the first time since 2001 and a well-deserved fifth occasion in all.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer – Bender (Sahin 90), Gundogan – Blaszczykowski (Schieber 90), Reus, Grosskreutz – Lewandowski. Trainer: Klopp.
Unused subs: Langerak, Kehl, Leitner, Kirch, Santana.
Bayern Munich: Neuer – Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba – Javi Martinez, Schweinsteiger – Robben, Muller, Ribery (Luiz Gustavo 89) – Mandzukic (Gomez 90). Trainer: Heynckes.
Unused subs: Starke, Van Buyten, Shaqiri, Pizarro, Tymoshchuk.
Referee: N Rizzoli (Italy). Attendance: 86,298.