Champions League final: Bayern win battle of Bundesliga
Bayern Munich claimed their fifth European Cup after overcoming Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund 2-1. It was a victory that avenged much hurt for the Allianz Arena outfit that had lost two Champions League finals in the last three years.
Wembley was swarming with yellow and red as Germany took on Germany in the capital of England. Both sides had overcome arguably the two best teams in the world to reach the final and their dominance in Europe made for a good match in London.
In a free flowing first half, neither side could find the elusive first goal despite Dortmund coming close on five occasions. Manuel Neuer was in top form, saving well from Reus and Lewandowski as both sides went into the break all-square.
Bundesliga runners-up Dortmund certainly had the edge going into the interval.
The second 45 started in similar fashion to the first – fast, eye-pleasing and all round impressive passages of football. Ribery and Robben were looking to exploit down the flanks, whilst Dortmund had Marko Reus pulling the strings in his advanced midfield role.
Munich began to grow in confidence and took the lead on the hour mark. Tricky winger Arjen Robben cut the ball superbly across the box as strapping centre forward Mario Mandzukic touched the ball home.
A joyous sea of red filled one half of Wembley, but celebrations lasted just six minutes, after Dante foolishly brought down Marko Reus to gift Dortmund a penalty.
Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan stepped-up and planted the ball in the bottom right hand corner, sending Manuel Neuer the wrong way.
With the game again even, both sides pressed for the winner. It was end to end stuff and anyone’s guess whether or not the game would be finished in the statutory 90 minutes.
Extra-time loomed until Arjen Robben broke Dortmund hearts in the 89th minute. A smart back-heel from Ribery allowed Robben to sneak in and tuck the ball just beyond Wiedenfeller in the Borussia Dortmund goal.
As the final whistle blew, Robben – on the losing side before – collapsed into a state of emotion as the reality dawned on him that he had just won the Champions League for his team.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were dignified losers and the respect shown by both sides at the final whistle was a testament to the growing reputation of German football.
Bayern Munich – Champions League winners 2013.
Thomas Bradley, Football Correspondent