By 90Min
May 21, 2019

It's 21 May 2008, approaching 2 A.M. local time in a cold and wet Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

After two gruelling hours of high intensity football in the first ever all-English UEFA Champions League final, Chelsea are one kick away from European glory.

Everything had led to this moment for the Blues, Roman Abramovich had pumped millions into the club for one dream, one goal, one moment. This was that moment, and there was only one man for the job.

CARL DE SOUZA/GettyImages

Well, the reality was that there was probably more than one more for that job, but that man didn't care about that. This man had worked his whole career, no, his whole life, for this moment.

That man was none other than their captain, their leader, their legend. Mr. John Terry.

Chelsea's favourite son was about to give his side the achievement they craved the most, but that dream was about to turn to a dark, if not slightly hilarious, nightmare

FRANCK FIFE/GettyImages

But how did we get to that point?

Well, ahead of the second all Premier League final between Liverpool and Tottenham on 1 June in Madrid, we take a look back at one of the biggest games in the history of English football 11 years on.


The Build-Up 

These two sides were not only becoming the two dominant forces in English football, winning all seven league titles available between 2005 and 2011.

In the red corner, you had Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United - an all conquering side who had just won their second consecutive Premier League title.

Alex Livesey/GettyImages

They had already beaten their west London opponents on penalties in the Community Shield to open the season, and now they had the chance to come full circle and beat them to close out the season. 

A second leg Paul Scholes goal was enough to see the Red Devils through against Barcelona to the final where they would attempt to win their third European crown, and their first since that extraordinary 2-1 win against Bayern Munich in 1999.

In the blue corner, to oppose the status quo you had Chelsea, who had a much more complicated route to Moscow.

Following victory over United in the 2007 FA Cup final, they knew they could beat them, but having sacked club hero Jose Mourinho in September after the relationship between himself and the owner had soured, they appointed Avram Grant.

Alex Livesey/GettyImages

No one really knew who this dour looking man was, but he'd managed to drag the players to the final following a dramatic extra time win over Liverpool in the last four, and had one of the most feared defences in Europe to combat the brutal United front three of Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo.

They were the underdogs, but underdogs who had a history of beating their opponents and had spent loads of money on really good players, so confidence was high that they could claim victory in their first ever major European final.


The Match

Starting Lineups

Manchester United                                                                                                           Chelsea

1. Edwin van der Sar                                                                                                   1. Petr Cech

 

6. Wes Brown                                                                                                       5. Michael Essien

5. Rio Ferdinand                                                                                               6. Ricardo Carvalho

15. Nemanja Vidic                                                                                                     26. John Terry

3. Patrice Evra                                                                                                          3. Ashley Cole

4. Owen Hargreaves                                                                                         4. Claude Makelele

18. Paul Scholes                                                                                               13. Michael Ballack

16. Michael Carrick                                                                                              8. Frank Lampard

7. Cristiano Ronaldo

                                                                                                                                     10. Joe Cole

10. Wayne Rooney                                                                                               11. Didier Drogba

32. Carlos Tevez                                                                                              15. Florent Malouda


Aside from the fact that those two teams would give any team in world football a run for their money, the needle and pettiness that had been evident between the two all season was very much on show in the Russian capital.

You had Paul Scholes bleeding after a clash of heads with Makelele, Nemanja Vidic going in for crunching tackles on Didier Drogba, and Wayne Rooney pushing Ashley Cole because of...well, just because.

But don't be fooled by all that, the football on show here was highly entertaining and of an outstanding quality.

But it was United who took the lead in the 26th minute when Wes Brown's left footed cross found Cristiano Ronaldo who powered home a header to claim his 42nd goal of an incredible season.

Alex Livesey/GettyImages

Ferguson's men looked more likely to double the lead - especially on the counter attack - and when Petr Cech brilliantly saved not only Carlos Tevez's close range header, but also Michael Carrick's thunderous follow-up, the Blues were on the ropes.

That was until right on the stroke of half time, when Michael Essien's shot deflected nicely to Frank Lampard, who poked home a Chelsea equaliser.

PAUL ELLIS/GettyImages

The West London side came closest to finding a winner in the second half, but Drogba's long range effort came crashing off the post.

Extra time arrived, and Lampard was agonisingly near to bagging his second, but his turning effort clipped the crossbar, before John Terry magnificently headed Ryan Giggs' goal-bound effort over the bar.

Eventually, tensions boiled over, and with the game heading to penalties, neither side could afford to lose one of their key spot kick takers.

So of course, that's exactly what happened. Drogba decided to slap Vidic in the 118th minute, which seemed a very stupid thing to do for more than one reason.

Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

But off the Ivorian went, right before the most important kicks in the history of Chelsea football club.

United went first in front of their own fans, Tevez scored, before Michael Ballack emphatically replied for Chelsea.

Michael Carrick and Juliano Belletti both netted for either side, before a certain Portuguese superstar stepped up.

Ronaldo stuttered. Cech didn't flinch. Ronaldo shot. Cech guessed right. Chelsea had the upper hand and were three kicks away. How different history could be now if it had been Ronaldo who cost his side Europe's biggest prize rather than Terry, a real sliding doors moment.

ADRIAN DENNIS/GettyImages

Lampard, Owen Hargreaves, Ashley Cole and Nani all scored, meaning it was left to Terry to finish the job.


And then, in a moment that probably haunts him to this day, and in a metaphor for lots of English players at the highest level, he slipped, and fired wide.

Michael Steele/GettyImages

There it went, the once in a lifetime chance to win the biggest trophy in club football for his beloved Chelsea. Gone.


Anderson and Salomon Kalou scored after, but we all knew what was coming, and which way the tide had turned.

Ryan Giggs, who broke Bobby Charlton's Man Utd appearance record on this night, scored, before Nicolas Anelka's tame effort was saved by man of the match Edwin van der Sar.

United had done it in the most dramatic of circumstances yet again.


The Aftermath

United would go on to win the Premier League the following season, but lose to Barcelona in the Champions League final in Rome.

That 2009 final would be Ronaldo's final United game before his world record transfer to Real Madrid, and he seemed to do alright for himself after that.

They would again meet Barca in the final in 2011, but an awesome, Lionel Messi inspired performance meant that Ferguson would finish his United career with just the two European Cups.

CHRISTOPHE SIMON/GettyImages

Following his 13th Premier League title, Ferguson retired in 2013, probably recognising that the new superpower in English football would be their 'noisy neighbours' before too long.

Chelsea on the other hand, sacked Avram Grant within a week of the final, only to replace him with Brazil's 2002 World Cup winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari...which turned out to be a disaster.

'Big Phil' was also sacked, before Guus Hiddink took over to lead the Blues to an FA Cup in the same year.

They would of course go on to finally become European champions in 2012 under Roberto Di Matteo, this time beating Bayern Munich, in Munich, on penalties (ironically).

ADRIAN DENNIS/GettyImages

Terry didn't take a penalty that time, mainly because he was suspended for the final, but he still found the time to dress up in his full Chelsea kit when Drogba bagged the winning penalty - something he did a year later when they beat Benfica to win the Europa League.

Never change John, never change.

As for Moscow, FIFA were clearly so impressed with the way they hosted the final that they kindly decided to give them the 2018 World Cup two years later, which everyone seemed really happy about. Really happy. 

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