Both Chelsea and Bayern named strong sides for this one, even if both were missing some players due to match fitness or injury. Bayern seemed to want revenge after the Blues defeated them in the last meeting between the two sides, while Jose Mourinho seemingly wanted to erase some of the ghosts from last season as soon as possible.
In that regard, things got off to a fantastic start for Chelsea, as just eight minutes into the game, the Blues were on the scoreboard. Eden Hazard made a dazzling run through the depleted Bayern midfield, and then slotted the ball to the feet of wide-man Andre Schurrle. The German immediately played the ball to the center of the 18-yard box, and the unmarked Fernando Torres volleyed the ball into the corner.
Unlike the last time these two sides played, Chelsea didn't appear to be content to sit back and absorb pressure. Bayern had the bulk of the possession, but every time Chelsea took the ball back, they quickly looked to initiate the counter. While that might seem an awful lot like the 2012 Champions League final, in this go-around, the Blues looked both organized and dangerous in launching the attack.
They should have had a second about midway through the first half, when Fernando Torres found himself with room to run out wide. The Spaniard fired one high and wide, while both Oscar and Andre Schurrle were running free in front of goal. A simple cross would have sent it to the break 2-0, but the lead remained at one when the halftime whistle blew.
Frank Ribery made the Blues pay early into the second half, with a fantastic strike to level the tie just after the restart. After that the Blues seemed to settle in nicely, still seeing less of the ball than their opponent but looking to break every time they touched it.
Dante gifted Chelsea a golden opportunity to re-take the lead, but Oscar somehow failed to put the ball into the back of the net. In fairness, Manuel Neuer did everything he possibly could have there, but there was little excuse for a player of Oscar's caliber not to get it by him.
The game continued to be pretty well played, with Chelsea narrowly missing a chance to go ahead on a corner. The always dangerous Branislav Ivanovic was kept out by the woodwork, denying the Blues a lead that they had looked close to taking on several occasions.
The next big chance came for Chelsea, as David Luiz was denied from six yards in front of goal. Seconds later Chelsea found themselves down to ten men, as Ramires picked up a second booking for a challenge on Mario Gotze. The Blues responded to the sending off with their first substitution, bringing on John Obi Mikel in place of Andre Schurrle.
Like our last meeting with the German side, 90 minutes wasn't enough. Extra time started without any changes for the Blues, despite still having a pair of substitutions remaining.
Minutes into stoppage time, the Blues were back in the lead. David Luiz led Eden Hazard with an absolutely brilliant pass, and Hazard cut into the box before slotting one past the diving Manuel Neuer. At that point Mourinho released the Kraken, bringing Romelu Lukaku on for Fernando Torres.
We reached the second half of stoppage time with the Blues still a goal to the good, and Bayern responded by throwing bodies forward. Petr Cech was called into action on several occasions, being required to make several excellent stops in order to keep Chelsea in front.
As extra time wore on, Jose Mourinho decided to close up shop. He brought John Terry on for Eden Hazard, and the Blues tried to repeat the closing moments of the 2012 Champions League final. They almost did, but Javi Martinez managed to level the tie on what was essentially the last kick of the game. Bayern went on to win it in penalties, making all five that they attempted.
Here are my initial thoughts after watching this fantastic game:
- As much as we all love to joke about the ghost of Fernando Torres, that finish was absolutely beautiful.
- The finish from Fernando was fantastic, but why he decided not to cross to one of the pair of wide open Blues for an easy second is beyond me. I've wanted Torres to go for goal more often for several
monthsyears, but that was not the time to get greedy.
- Andre Schurrle is going to be lethal on the counter for the Blues. He breaks down the wing so quickly once the Blues gain possession that the fullbacks and holders can't immediately press the ball.
- Frank Lampard has been one of our best set piece takers for ages, but he really hasn't been good that frequently when delivering corners of late. With the other options we have, it's probably time for Jose Mourinho to put someone else on corner duty.
- The defensive work out of our attacking band today was fantastic. Eden Hazard in particular looked like a totally different player in that regard from last season.
- NBC's coverage is so much better than what Fox did today. For starters, their stream shows the clock.
- Petr Cech is still the man.
- That penalty miss might well be the best thing that ever happens to Romelu Lukaku. As hard as he works already, I'd hate to think what he's going to be like in training after this. Watch out Premier League...
- All in all, this was an extremely entertaining game between a pair of excellent sides. I was pretty sad that it had to end, and now I'm irritated that we won't have another Chelsea game until after this international break.