By JUSTIN FERGUSON
For the past few seasons, Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben has endured criticisms about his performances in finals.
On Saturday, the Dutch winger exorcised the big game demons for himself and his club with a last-minute winner in the UEFA Champions League Final.
Robben slipped a soft shot past Roman Weidenfeller in the 89th minute to give Bayern a 2-1 win over rivals Borussia Dortmund. He also set up Mario Mandzukic for the opener at the hour mark, but the lead was canceled out less than 10 minutes later by an Ilkay Gundogan penalty conversion.
Robben, who missed a crucial penalty in last year’s Champions League Final loss to Chelsea, appeared to be back to his old ways in a scoreless yet thrilling first half at Wembley Stadium. The winger generated several chances in front of goal for Bayern, but Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller kept each of them out.
Dortmund were also stopped by some outstanding goalkeeping in the first 45 minutes. They controlled the chances in the opening stages with some potent counter attacks, but Manuel Neuer kept the match scoreless heading into the break.
Bayern took control of the match early in the second half, and the Bundesliga champions finally found a way past Weidenfeller at the hour mark. Franck Ribery, who came close to getting sent off in the first half for throwing an elbow, sent a cutting ball inside the box to Robben. The Dutch winger pulled the ball back at the last moment for a wide-open tap-in from Mandzukic.
After an already-booked Dante was whistled for a horrific challenge on Marco Reus inside the box, Gundogan calmly converted a 68th-minute penalty to swing momentum back Dortmund’s way.
Both sides traded shots and hard fouls until just seconds before the 90th minute, when Robben slipped through the middle of the Dortmund defense and softly tapped the ball away from a charging Weidenfeller.
Robben’s last-minute winner gave Bayern their fifth Champions League title, a long-awaited trophy for a side that lost its last two finals appearances. Bayern will look to complete their first treble in club history next Saturday in the German Cup final.
What were your thoughts on the result? Surprised at Robben coming up big on Europe’s biggest stage? Thought Ribery should have been sent off for his elbow? What did you make of Dortmund’s performance?
Share your thoughts below.