May 25, 2013, 4:59 PM EST
Arjen Robben, criticized by many for his woeful record in major finals, finally got over the hump in stunning fashion as his 89th minute winner sent Bayern Munich to the promised land by winning 2-1 over German rivals Borussia Dortmund.
It’s the Bavarians’ first Champions League victory since 2001, despite making it to the finals three of the last four seasons.
It was clear from the beginning that goalkeeping would be on display in the season’s biggest match. Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer fought off a torrid start by Borussia Dortmund, while Roman Weidenfeller even saved a shot with his face en route to becoming the clubhouse leader for the Man of the Match award.
A blistering first half ended 0-0, with gleeming chances by Robert Lewandowski, Arjen Robben, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Sven Bender, Javi Martinez, and Mario Mandzukic all going unfulfilled.
The second half started the opposite, while both sides attempted to catch their breath, but it soon picked up again. The scoresheet finally budged when Robben found himself with just an inch or so of space on the end line and crossed with his famed left foot, with Mario Mandzukic’s poke finishing off the chance on Bayern’s 9th shot of the match (16th shot combined).
The scores soon leveled when Bayern center back Dante brought down Marco Reus with a kick to the nether regions – a clear penalty – and Ilkay Gundogun blasted home the attempt by wrong-footing Neuer.
The game then opened up completely, with both sides going practically end to end, back and forth, but both managers clearly expected to head to extra time, as not a single substitute was used until after the unthinkable happened.
Arjen Robben latched onto a backheel from Ribery in the middle of the box, put three defenders on the ground, and slotted home past Weidenfeller, who by all accounts everyone expected to save the relatively weak attempt.
But weak or not, Robben was the hero. It was his 25th shot on target in Champions League finals, and his first goal. It’s a bit of redemption for the Dutch veteran. He missed a penalty in last season’s finals shootout loss against Chelsea. He had lost two Champions League finals and a World Cup final since 2010. But today, he brings home the cup to Munich.
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