Chelsea pain as final twist brings United glory again

Stadion Luzhniki, Moscow – 21/05/2008 – Final
Man. United
Man. United
Cristiano Ronaldo 26
1 - 1
Chelsea
  • Lampard 45
Chelsea
Edge of the seat

"I missed my penalty and it felt like the worst day of my life. Now it's the happiest day of my life." Cristiano Ronaldo

2007/08

• Liverpool FC beat Beşiktaş JK 8-0 at Anfield on Matchday 4, the biggest ever win in the competition. Another English side, Arsenal FC, had defeated SK Slavia Praha 7-0 the previous Matchday.

• At 43 years and 253 days, S.S. Lazio keeper Marco Ballotta became the oldest player in UEFA Champions League history when he played every minute of the 3-1 loss at Real Madrid CF on Matchday 6.

• Manchester United FC beat FC Barcelona 1-0 in their semi-final second leg to earn a 12th straight home win. It was unlucky 13 as they were held by Villarreal CF on Matchday 1 the following season.

Forty years after their first European Cup triumph, half a century on from the Munich air crash and on the night of Ryan Giggs's club-record 759th appearance, Manchester United FC's evening, as they contested the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League final, was so nearly spoiled.

After an epic domestic campaign which saw United sneak out on top of perennial Premier League rivals Chelsea FC, this first all-English showpiece delivered its own brand of engaging encounter at a rain-soaked Luzhniki Stadium.

United were first to show their hand 26 minutes in, Cristiano Ronaldo dropping off Michael Essien and leaping majestically to head Wes Brown's cross low into the corner for his 42nd club goal of the season.

Buoyed by the effervescent Owen Hargreaves and calmed by the composed Paul Scholes, United's goal was first threatened when Rio Ferdinand inadvertently headed that way. Edwin van der Sar to the rescue.

Petr Čech was equally effective in denying Carlos Tévez, and then Michael Carrick, after a sweeping United move. Chelsea, pragmatic as ever despite José Mourinho's departure, rode the storm. They duly drew level on the stroke of half-time, Lampard poking between Van der Sar and Ferdinand after latching on to Essien's deflected shot.

Fortune favoured the Blues and momentum now appeared to be with them too; Didier Drogba struck a post with a shot as venomous as it was deceptive, but extra time was needed. Lampard was next to be frustrated by the woodwork, collecting Michael Ballack's cute pass and chipping against the bar.

Giggs, off the bench to break Sir Bobby Charlton's long-standing record, so nearly marked this poignant night with the winner, only to be thwarted by the retreating John Terry. Drogba was dismissed following an unsightly melee. Cue penalties.

Ronaldo was the odd man out after nine spot kicks, leaving Chelsea captain Terry with the chance to win his side's maiden European Cup. A loss of footing and a post left the Blues aggrieved once more. Giggs converted, Nicolas Anelka was denied and, just a stone's throw from Red Square, it was the Red Devils' night after all.

Star players

  • Van der Sar

    The Netherlands' most-capped player, Van der Sar first attracted widespread acclaim as part of AFC Ajax's 1995 UEFA Champions League-winning team. His form for the Eredivisie giants earned a move to Juventus and then Fulham FC in England. Brought by Manchester United FC in 2005, he came closer than any to filling the void left by Peter Schmeichel, helping United to three successive Premier League titles and the 2008 UEFA Champions League.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo

    Ronaldo caught the eye of Manchester United FC manager Sir Alex Ferguson after only 11 league starts for Sporting Clube de Portugal. The Portugal winger settled gradually before finding consistency in 2006/07 – the first of three successive Premier League titles. Ronaldo struck 42 club goals as United also won the UEFA Champions League the following term. He joined Real Madrid CF for a world record €94m in summer 2009 and reached 50 Liga goals in 51 games.

  • Terry

    A one-club man, Terry has been Chelsea FC's heartbeat since succeeding Marcel Desailly as captain in August 2004, leading the Blues to back-to-back Premier League titles – their first in 50 years. A fixture for England, centre-back Terry missed from the spot when presented with the chance to win the club's maiden European Champion Clubs' Cup in 2008. Terry does, though, have four FA Cups and three Premier League crown to his name.

What happened next?

• Manchester United FC reached the UEFA Champions League final the following season but failed to become the first club to successfully defend the trophy, losing 2-0 to FC Barcelona in Rome.

• Ryan Giggs, who overtook Sir Bobby Charlton as United's leading appearance maker in the 2008 final, went on to pass the 1966 FIFA World Cup winner's club record of 606 league games too.

• Cristiano Ronaldo's opener in Moscow was his 42nd club goal that term. The Portugal winger scored 26 for United the following season before joining Real Madrid CF for a world record €94m.

• Sir Alex Ferguson's side retained the Premier League in 2008/09 but missed out on an unprecedented fourth successive title the following season, finishing a point adrift of Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea FC.

• Defeat in Moscow was Avram Grant's final game in charge of Chelsea. Luiz Felipe Scolari succeeded him though, after a temporary spell under Guus Hiddink, within 12 months Ancelotti was at the helm.

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