, LONDON, May 20 – The British press on Sunday hailed the heroics of Didier Drogba in helping Chelsea win the Champions League and took pleasure in noting that a German side had “at last” lost on penalties.
“Didi Did It,” was the headline in the Sun on Sunday, recounting how Drogba first scored the equaliser in normal time and then stepped up to score the decisive spot kick as Chelsea beat Bayern Munich 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out.
The tabloid headlined another story simply “Germans lose on penalties” – hailing the turnaround in fortunes for an English team after decades of losing to Germany in penalty shootouts.
England have lost twice to Germany in penalty shoot-outs, in the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup and at the same stage of Euro 96.
The papers also said Chelsea and Drogba had banished the bitter memories of losing to domestic rivals Manchester United on penalties in the 2008 Champions League final, when the striker was sent off.
“Kings of Europe” was the headline in the Sunday Times, below a photograph of Chelsea’s jubilant players sprinting to embrace Drogba after he sealed victory in Bayern’s own Allianz Arena.
The paper said that if last night was 34-year-old Drogba’s final match for Chelsea, as seemed likely before the game, then he was “never prepared to go quietly”.
“Increasingly in his later years, there has been suspicion that his best is reserved exclusively for the big occasions,” the Sunday Times said, although it pointed out that while the Ivory Coast striker had often shone in domestic cup finals his record in international finals had until Saturday been less impressive.
The paper also said that the capture of the one title that he had always craved – and had spent hundreds of millions of pounds trying to win – meant that Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich had finally achieved his goal.
“One of the great stories of modern sport is over. Finally,” wrote the paper’s football correspondent Jonathan Northcroft.
“Chelsea’s hunt for the Champions League had become as epic as the pursuit of baseball’s World Series by the Boston Red Sox, New Zealand’s attempt to win back the Rugby World Cup, England’s drive to become cricket’s world No 1.
“And with all those quests in recent years, there was a happy ending,” he added.
The Sunday Telegraph also hailed Drogba, saying he had seized his chance to make history with both hands.
And the Mail on Sunday headlined its coverage: “Didier saves his best for last as Abramovich dream comes true.”
Many of the papers also said Roberto Di Matteo had earned the right to move up from caretaker manager to the job full-time – but most concluded that that was far from a certainty.