Chelsea won the Champions League final on German soil as they beat Bayern Munich 4-3 on penalties after the game finished 1-1 within the regulation time.
Bayern had much the better of the game, missed numerous chances in the first-half and were made to wait until the 83rd minute for the opener when Thomas Muller appeared at the back post to head past Petr Cech.
Despite a lack of ambition until then, Chelsea were not done and equalised in a thrilling finale when Didier Drogba headed home from the Blues’ first corner of the game with two minutes left to go.
Drogba almost turned from hero to villain as he tripped Franck Ribery in the box in the first period of extra-time but Cech saved Arjen Robben’s penalty low down to his left. The rest of the game yielded no goals and it was left to penalties to decide the winner.
It looked like Chelsea would lose the shootout as Juan Mata missed, but Ivica Olic - with his last kick as a Bayern Munich player - and Bastian Schweinsteiger missed and Drogba stroked home for glory.
From his place in the stands, owner Roman Abramovich was clearly overjoyed, as was the suspended John Terry, who watched the tense shoot-out unfold from the touchline.
Assisted by the obvious advantage of playing at home, Bayern got themselves on the front foot immediately and were rarely pushed back.
The nearest they came was when former Chelsea man Arjen Robben glided past two defenders, then drilled a low shot towards goal, which Petr Cech managed to deflect high onto a post, with Robben barely able to believe he had failed.
Robben had another couple of chances before Muller volleyed wide.
Robben and Muller combined to create an opening for Mario Gomez that he looked certain to capitalise on after a deft body movement had left Gary Cahill stranded, only for the Bayern sharp-shooter to lash over.
Handed a surprise start, Ryan Bertrand coped well. It was the first time a player has made his debut in the competition in the final in the Champions League era. It was on the other side where Franck Ribery was proving to be a complete menace.
What they did at the Camp Nou gave Chelsea immense belief in their own durability. Indeed, they might have had something to celebrate themselves had Juan Mata kept his curling free-kick down or Salomon Kalou been able to direct a shot away from Manuel Neuer after Frank Lampard and Drogba combined to set him up from an admittedly acute angle.
The pattern continued after half-time and Ribery thought he had grabbed a deserved opener when he snaffled the loose ball after Cole had blocked Robben’s goalbound shot. The offside flag cut German celebrations short.
Cole’s involvement was part of an outstanding contribution from the full-back, who seemed to be in the way of nearly all the threats to Chelsea’s goal. He denied both Robben and Toni Kroos as Chelsea, enhancing his status one of the few truly world class players Roy Hodgson will have at his disposal at Euro 2012.
In response, Drogba, possibly making his last appearance for the club, unleashed a speculative long-range volley that dipped wide.
Bayern found the breakthrough seven minutes from time when Kroos curled a cross to Muller who intelligently headed the ball hard and down, which meant it bounced up towards the crossbar, possibly catching Cech by surprise.
But Abramovich’s team are made of stern stuff. And with barely two minutes remaining, and Muller replaced by an extra defender in Daniel van Buyten, Drogba rose at the near post to power Mata’s corner home.
This time there was nothing the goalkeeper could do, the ball speeding past Neuer at such pace there was no time for reaction.
The drama continued into extra-time as Drogba bundled Ribery over in the box. Whilst the contact might not have looked much, it was enough to end the Frenchman’s evening and it was a definite spot-kick.
Robben hit his penalty towards the bottom right but he failed to find the corner and Cech was equal to it, making a fine save to his left and then smothering the rebound.
It was the kind of moment that made you think fate had decreed a Chelsea win, a belief only strengthened by Bayern passing up two clear openings in the second period of those additional 30 minutes.
Drogba kept his nerve as Olic and Schweinsteiger failed to ensure Chelsea erased the memory of their misery in 2008 by conquering Europe for the first time.