By Steve Kinkead
In a thrilling 2013 Champions League final played in historic Wembley Stadium, Bayern Munich scored the winner in the final minutes of play to defeat Borussia Dortmund 2-1 and take home the trophy for the fifth time. The winner was scored by Arjen Robben, who redeemed himself after his failure a year ago. In that 2012 final, which Chelsea won on penalty kicks, Robben missed an extra time penalty that could have won it for Bayern. Prior to his winner this year, he also missed a slew of chances before hitting the winning goal and all was forgotten when the final whistle blew.
Dortmund played an excellent game against the favorites and had their own chances to take the lead. They started strong in the opening period but Bayern’s goalie, Manuel Neuer, made several fine saves to keep the game scoreless at the half. Germany’s number one tipped a Robert Lewandowski shot over the bar, then kicked away a low shot by Jakub Blaszczykowski and saved another from Sven Bender. Dortmund would rue its missed opportunities as the tide turned and Bayern got the better of play late in the opening period.
Robben wasted a clear chance when he had Mario Mandzukic open in front. Instead of centering for an easy tap in, Robben went for goal himself and saw Dortmund’s keeper, Roman Weidenfeller, make an excellent save. The ensuing corner brought out another great stop as Weidenfeller tipped Mandzukic’s header over the bar. Javi Martinez was next up for Bayern, but his shot just missed high.
Shortly before the break there were chances at both ends with the keepers coming out on top both times. Lewandowski saw his shot saved by Neuer, who started a break the other away. Robben, once again, found himself in front of Weidenfeller, who again made the save.
The second half started slower, but the goals were coming. Fifteen minutes into the period, Bayern’s Frank Ribery had the ball approaching the Dortmund goal. He slid it to Robben on the left and this time he made no mistakes. As he drew Weidenfeller out of the net along the goal line, Robben found Mandzuki in front of a nearly open net. The big Croat just had to steer the ball past a flailing defender for the 1-0 lead.
It wasn’t long before Dortmund equalized on a poorly timed play from Dante. Bayern’s Brazilian defender attempted to clear the ball from his area, but only managed to wallop Marco Reus in the stomach. It was a clear penalty, but Dante was extremely lucky not to be sent off for a second yellow after receiving one earlier. Ilkay Gundogan equalized from the spot in the 68th minute to set up a frenetic final twenty minutes.
Bayern were keen to avoid a repeat of the previous year’s disaster and sent wave after wave at the Dortmund goal, only to be stymied by Weidenfeller and the Dortmund defense. Neven Subotic cleared Thomas Muller’s cross off the line before the keeper jumped in front of a shot from David Alaba to keep the score level at one. Not long after that Muller brought the ball into the box and pleaded for a penalty after going down, but replays showed he had clearly lost the ball before falling too easily.
In the 89th minute, though, it was a bit of magic from Robben and Ribery that lead Bayern to the trophy. Ribery had the ball at the top of the box, surrounded by defenders and nowhere to go. Somehow he managed to slip a backheel through the Dortmund players to an on-rushing Robben. At full speed he was headed to his left and Weidenfeller went that way. Robben just touched the ball to his right and it rolled easily into the back of the net for the winner. It was redemption for the speedy Dutchman and Bayern, clearly the dominant team in Europe on the season.
The 2013 UEFA Champion’s League final was extremely exciting and either team could have won with plenty of chances on both ends of the field. Full of attacking football and plenty of action, it was wonderful display of the game at its best.