Arjen Robben provided the perfect answer to the doubters by scoring an 88th-minute winner to settle a brilliant Champions League final in favour of Bayern Munich at Wembley.
The glory goal came 12 months after Robben’s lowest point, when he missed the penalty that would have beaten Chelsea.
Tonight that frustration was forgotten as Bayern joined Liverpool as five-times winners of Europe’s most prestigious competition, leaving Borussia Dortmund flattened and in tears at a magnificent effort that went unrewarded.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller, Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer, Bender (Sahin 90+1), Gundogan, Blaszczykowski (Schieber 90+1), Reus, Grosskreutz, Lewandowski. Subs not used: Langerak, Kehl, Leitner, Kirch, Felipe Santana.
Goals: Gundogan 67 (pen).
Bayern Munich: Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba, Javi Martinez, Schweinsteiger, Robben, Muller, Ribery (Gustavo 90+1), Mandzukic (Gomez 90+4). Subs not used: Starke, Van Buyten, Shaqiri, Pizarro, Tymoschuk.
Booked: Date, Ribery
Goals: Mandzukic 60, Robben 89.
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)
Not that either side deserved to lose an outstanding game that no neutral would have complained if it had gone to an extra 30 minutes.
Indeed, the only person who might wonder at the glory of it all is Pep Guardiola, who takes over at Bayern next season having to improve on a campaign that, by next week, may well have ended with a treble.
The only worry from either side appearing on the grandest stage was that the presence of the other would bring a degree of caution to proceedings.
After all, the pair had proved beyond doubt this season that they are the best two sides in Europe.
That a thrill-a-minute opening period ended goalless was a wonder in itself. The reasons were mainly found in the inspired performances of respective goalkeepers Manuel Neuer and Roman Weidenfeller, plus the profligacy of Robben.
In the opening 25 minutes, as the yellow Dortmund shirts buzzed around furiously, Neuer was Bayern’s hero.
Germany’s number one keeper tipped over a long-range Robert Lewandowski effort, turned away Jakub Blaszczykowski’s low shot with his feet and also denied Sven Bender.
It was phenomenal stuff from Neuer as Bayern’s stretched defence struggled to cope with the raw pace and enthusiasm of their Bundesliga rivals.
Slowly though, the contest began to turn.
Mario Mandzukic reacted with fury when Robben went for goal rather than square a pass into his path that would have left a vacant net to tap into, only for Weidenfeller to make the first of his series of splendid saves.
From the corner, Weidenfeller tipped Mandzukic’s header onto the crossbar before the excellent Javi Martinez skimmed a shot just over.
An enthralling contest was encapsulated in the space of seconds just before the break when Lewandowski found room inside the Bayern area to squeeze out a shot which Neuer saved and then immediately launched a counter-attack from.
Through a fortunate bounce and Mats Hummels losing his bearings, Robben ended up face-to-face with Weidenfeller. Again the Dortmund keeper won the personal duel.
It was impossible to imagine the goalless stalemate continuing. And even though some of the earlier zip was missing when the sides reconvened, it did not.
After leading the attacking raid, Robben drifted quietly into space as Franck Ribery assessed his options.
One burst of pace later and Ribery had flicked the ball to his fellow wide-man, drawing Weidenfeller from his line in desperation.
Mandzukic was in a similar place as before. This time Robben found him and the Croatian put Bayern ahead.
Soon after Dante paid the price for an ill-advised attempt at a clearance as he succeeded only in kicking Marco Reus in the stomach. Ilkay Gundogan did the rest from the penalty spot.
There was no debating the decision but, as Dante had previously been booked, there was a strong argument the Brazilian deserved a red card.
Not that there was any time to debate the issue as Neven Subotic miraculously got back to hook Muller’s shot off the line before Weidenfeller flung himself in the way of David Alaba’s effort.
Muller was convinced he should have had a penalty when he went down under Subotic’s challenge but he didn’t get one.
Bastian Schweinsteiger was next to find Weidenfeller getting in the way of one of his shots.
But Bayern need not have worried. With extra-time looking certain, Ribery managed to force a backheel through a crowd of defenders inside the Dortmund box.
Robben charged onto it. He kept his cool to nip round a couple of despairing tackles before rolling the ball past Weidenfeller to send Munich into ecstasy.
Awash with colour: Fans – famous ones included – created a stunning atmosphere inside Wembley… and the entertainment before the match and at half-time was pretty special, too
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