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Drogba wins the CL title for Chelsea
By NESHA STARCEVIC
MUNICH (AP) From hero to villain, to man of the match.
Didier Drogba went through the full range of emotions on a night when he delivered the first Champions League title to Chelsea, in perhaps his last match for the London club.
Drogba's dramatic, perfect header in the 88th minute against Bayern Munich leveled the final at 1-1 and sent it into extra time. It was his 34th Champions League goal and perhaps the most memorable.
He then gave away a needless extra-time penalty that was saved by Petr Cech from Arjen Robben, before driving home the final spot-kick in the shootout that clinched the title.
Drogba ran to the side and threw himself onto the ground, to be buried for minutes under a frenzied pile of his blue-shirted teammates.
He then took off his shirt and ran to the opposite side of Bayern's Allianz Arena, prancing in front of the jubilant supporters. And then, he held Cech in a long embrace, thanking the Chelsea goalkeeper for saving his - and Chelsea's - night with his save of Robben's penalty.
"When we have this guy in goal you have to believe," said Drogba. "I wanted to score the penalty for him, he is the best goalkeeper in the world and his saves today and before got us here."
"It was written, I think, a long time ago. I want to dedicate this cup to all the managers we've had before, all the players I've played with before.
"They (Chelsea players) never give up until the end. This team is amazing."
Drogba was on his knee, praying in the middle circle as Bastian Schweinsteiger walked to the spot to take his team's last penalty. Schweinsteiger hit the post with his low shot and Drogba then stepped up for the decisive effort.
Facing the hostile Bayern crowd and Manuel Neuer, the Bayern goalkeeper who had already saved Juan Mata's first shot, Drogba looked calm.
Neuer's routine before each shot is to jump up and down, shake the crossbar in an intimidating way and then keep jumping as the opponent prepares to shoot.
Drogba remained calm, took a short run-up and drove the ball inside the right post while sending Neuer the wrong way.
And Chelsea had the title it had been trying to win ever since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.
"We didn't play fantastic but the main man Didier dug us out of trouble there," said Frank Lampard, who was Chelsea's captain for the suspended John Terry.
"He's a hero. Without him we're not here. He scores the goals in the big games."
Drogba's contract expires this summer, but Lampard said he would love him to stay.
"What he did tonight he's been doing all his career," Lampard said.
Drogba would not say whether he'll stay on at Chelsea after eight years with the club.
"We can't make decision on emotions in moments like this," he said.
Drogba was still on the field long after Saturday had turned into Sunday, kissing and hugging anyone who happened to come by, including photographers.
As "London Calling" by the The Clash shook the Allianz Arena from the powerful sound system, Drogba was still celebrating.
The 34-year-old Ivory Coast striker is not a sure-bet penalty-taker.
In the African Cup of Nations final in January, he missed a regulation-time penalty. Although he scored in the shootout, Zambia won.
"I was confident before going to take it, but I still had in my head what happened in the African cup. It was difficult but I was also confident," Drogba said.
Updated May 19, 2012