United win dramatic shoot-out to become champions of Europe

Chelsea 1 Manchester United 1 (after extra time, Manchester United won 6-5 on penalties)

Manchester United became kings of Europe for the third time on a night of high drama and emotion in Moscow.

Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar was the hero with a penalty save to deny Nicolas Anelka after Chelsea captain John Terry had missed the chance to win the Blues the trophy by firing his own spot-kick hit the post.

The dramatic shootout looked to be going Chelsea’s way after Petr Cech saved Cristiano Ronaldo’s effort but Terry’s miss opened the door for Sir Alex Ferguson to clinch his second Champions League crown.

As the celebrations began, you could have expected the ghosts of such giants as Duncan Edwards and George Best to be dancing with delight at the outcome.

It is 40 years since United first won the trophy with a team rebuilt by Sir Matt Busby from the survivors of that Munich disaster. Eight players lost their lives following the catastrophic events on a snow-filled German runway in February 1958.

It was fitting that United became the first English club to win the trophy 10 years later and even more apt that, half a century on, Ferguson’s men had again taken on Europe’s finest and beaten them all.

Their achievement was made even more poignant by Munich survivors Harry Gregg, Albert Scanlon, Kenny Morgans, Bill Foulkes and Sir Bobby Charlton, now a club director, who watched the drama unfold from the stands.

But modern-day football has its own heroes and the likes of Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney and the unstoppable Ronaldo now trip off the tongue in the same way Best and Charlton once did.

Yet, the opening 25 minutes of the first all-English final barely lived up to its hysterical pre-match hype.

However, all that changed from the moment Ronaldo headed United in front with his 42nd goal of a memorable season.

Paul Scholes, who missed United’s last triumph through suspension in 1999, played a delightful interchange of passes with Wes Brown on the right flank.

His final return pass put Brown in the clear and the full-back’s left-foot cross found the waiting Ronaldo in space at the far post.

The Portugal international planted a firm header into the corner of the net past a static Cech to give United first blood.

Chelsea’s somewhat muted response almost brought them an equaliser in the 33rd minute when Lampard’s cross was headed back into the six-yard box by Didier Drogba.

United’s Rio Ferdinand, under pressure from Michael Ballack, was forced to head the ball towards his own goal and only a superb save from Van der Sar prevented a Chelsea equaliser.

But it required a sensational double save from Cech to deny United their second moments later.

Wayne Rooney delivered an inch-perfect 40-yard crossfield ball into the path of the ever-dangerous Ronaldo and the United goalscorer placed his cross on the head of the diving Tevez only for Cech to deny him.

Chelsea’s failure to clear the loose ball gave Michael Carrick the chance to reward their superb approach work but again Cech was equal to the task with another fine save.

The Blues began to grow in confidence as the first half approached its climax and in the 45th minute, they took advantage of a massive slice of luck to level the score.

Michael Essien’s attempted shot from 25-yards took two deflections on its way towards goal but the most telling was off the back of United captain Ferdinand.

It changed the direction of the ball into the path of Lampard, who duly supplied the finish from six yards.

Chelsea, buoyed by their flourish at the end of the first half, almost took the lead in the 54th minute.

Essien managed to get clear of the United defence but his attempted curler from the edge of the penalty area was far too high.

It was all Chelsea now but they could not force a second goal. Drogba sent a header a wide from Lampard’s corner and Ballack was just off target with a 25-yard drive.

In the 77th minute, United had the woodwork to thank when Drogba sent a 20-yard shot against Van der Sar’s left-hand upright. The Ivorian went close again four minutes from time when he just failed to convert Joe Cole’s low cross.

Ryan Giggs was introduced in place of Scholes seconds later for the Welshman to make a record 759th appearance for the Red Devils.

The game went into extra-time, and within three minutes of the restart, the woodwork came to United’s rescue again. This time it was Lampard who sent his shot crashing against the crossbar as United continued to ride their luck.

But Chelsea were almost made to pay dearly eight minutes later when Terry cleared a goalbound effort from Giggs off his own line.

Drogba was then sensationally sent off for slapping Nemanja Vidic as tempers flared on both sides.

But the lottery of penalties ensured that United clinched the trophy.

More in this Section

European wrap: Gareth Bale shines as Real Madrid start LaLiga with a winEuropean wrap: Gareth Bale shines as Real Madrid start LaLiga with a win

Diogo Jota: Maguire has a lot of quality but I know and trust Wolves defenceDiogo Jota: Maguire has a lot of quality but I know and trust Wolves defence

Celtic sign Republic of Ireland Under-19 forward AfolabiCeltic sign Republic of Ireland Under-19 forward Afolabi

France thrash Scotland in NiceFrance thrash Scotland in Nice


Italy is a volatile place as you probably know, not just the passions of its people but is a place of active volcanos and frequent earthquakes. One of the most devastating earthquakes in recent years was the one that struck the Amatrice region in 2016.Wine with Leslie Williams: Some tasty Italian selections

It’s confirmed, being a dog owner is good for you. Esther McCarthy spoke to four celebrities about pride in their pooches.Animal magnetism: Celebrities and their treasured pets

We recently began watching a new sitcom called, ‘The Kids Are Alright’. It follows an American family in the early seventies as they raise eight sons.Lindsay Woods: I’m a dormant individual by nature but my children are adrenaline junkies

Rosscarbery antiques fair offers plenty of variety, writes Des O’Sullivan.See the value of rare notes and diamonds

More From The Irish Examiner