After losing the Champions League final in 2010 and again, most painfully, last year on penalties, Bayern Munich has finally won the Champions League for the first time since 2001, beating Borussia Dortmund 2-1. One of the men most tortured by and responsible for their recent failures, Arjen Robben, proved to be the man of the match, setting up Bayern's first goal and scoring their second in the 89th minute. When the final whistle blew, he couldn't hold back the tears.
Robben was the target of scorn after he missed a penalty in extra time of the 2012 Champions League final against Chelsea that could've prevented the match from going to a shootout, where Bastian Schweinsteiger's miss gave Chelsea the title. In the first half against fellow German side Dortmund, it looked like Robben was set to be the scapegoat once again. He missed a couple of golden chances, even blasting one off Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller's face.
In the second half, Robben's persistence finally paid off. He set up Mario Mandzukic's equalizer in the 60th minute. Dortmund then equalized from the penalty spot in the 68th minute after Bayern defender Dante (who was already on a yellow card) committed a clumsy foul in the box. With Bayern looking destined for extra time once again, Robben trickled in the 89th-minute winner. According to Opta, it took Robben a combined 25 shots over the 2010, 2012 and 2013 finals to finally score a goal, but it was certainly worth the wait.
“I heard so many people saying in the last weeks that they would grant me this [game-winning goal]. They told me: ‘You’ll score the goal,’ said Robben to ZDF.
The Netherlands international was still in a state of disbelief at the manner of his side’s victory, explaining: “It’s not quite sunk in yet, there’s still a lot of emotion."
It must be said that Dortmund put in a valiant effort. Bayern would've scored a winner earlier had it not been for Weidenfeller's great saves and defender Neven Subotic's spectacular goal-line clearance. They got off to the more dangerous start, but were just outmatched by Bayern (and Robben in particular) as the game went on.
Last year it was tears of pain, but this year it was tears of joys for Munich as they become the undisputed best team in Europe, winning the Bundesliga by an astonishing margin of 25 points over second-place Dortmund and now adding the Champions League title. They just have the German Cup final left to complete the treble this season.
But the most amazing part of all of this? The fact that manager Jupp Heynckes has accomplished all of this despite Bayern naming former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola as his replacement for next season. No matter how many times you hear that, it becomes no less shocking. The 68-year-old Heynckes has brought a historic level of success and yet he's still getting unceremoniously shipped out.
Still, this has been a dream season for Bayern and now Robben in particular can finally rest easy.