Chelsea, luckiest team in football

MUNICH (AP) - Lots of money, lots of luck, and players who didn’t care about winning ugly _ just so long as they won _ turned Chelsea into the champions of Europe.

The money, of course, is Roman Abramovich‘s. The billionaire finally got his hands on the shiny trophy with big ears he so coveted. A bargain at $1.2 billion and counting.

That’s roughly how much of his wealth the Russian has poured into the London club he bought in 2003, filling the heads of Chelsea fans with dreams of such special nights and scenes like these.

Striker Didier Drogba, scorer of the late goal that kept Chelsea in the game in normal time and of the penalty that won it after extra time ended with a 1-1 draw, ran across the pitch with the Champions League trophy in his arms and delight on his face.

Tens of thousands of Bayern Munich fans, forming a wall of red and white, silenced and shellshocked in their own magnificent stadium.

Chelsea now having the bragging rights of being the first club from London to claw its way to the top of Europe. Tottenham, Arsenal _ are you watching?

There were times in the Champions League final when Abramovich may have wished that he had bought another super-yacht, instead. At least it would have been prettier than a lot of the football played by his expensive team.

But there’s no law against playing ugly football. Chelsea didn’t travel to Munich to dazzle as Barcelona and Real Madrid surely would have done had those Spanish clubs not foundered in the semifinals.

Chelsea didn’t even come here to play attacking football _ as Bayern did in wave upon fruitless wave on Saturday night, with Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben double-teaming like Batman and Robin, but without the knockout punch.

No, Chelsea came to right the wrong of the tear-streaked night in Moscow in 2008, when Chelsea captain John Terry slipped on the soggy turf and hit the post in the decisive penalty shootout won by Manchester United.

This time, there was again the agony of penalties. Only this time, it was Bayern’s Bastian Schweinsteiger who hit the post.

Drogba, in what may well have been his last kick of a ball in a Chelsea shirt, then fired home the winning spot-kick.

So what this final lacked in beauty, it made up for in drama and absorbing storylines.

Like that of Terry, forced to watch from the sidelines because of his stupid red card earned in the semifinals, meaning he couldn’t make amends for 2008 himself.

Or manager Roberto Di Matteo, the stand-in who succeeded where the likes of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti failed when they were at Chelsea.

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