Created on 31-08-2013 at 18:08 PM
Focus, look the taker in the eye, make yourself look big and the goal small. One save, and a dramatic thriller of a match would be over. Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku stepped up. Manuel Neuer guessed correctly, transferred his weight to the left, threw out an arm, dived to the turf - and Bayern’s first European Super Cup triumph was complete!
“We have a wonderful, wonderful goalkeeper!” Pep Guardiola said admiringly. Manuel’s contribution was by no means limited to the crucial penalty save. His brilliance against Oscar (64th minute), Ivanovic (78) and David Luiz (84) kept his side in the match during normal time. He was beaten in the early minutes of extra time by Eden Hazard (93), but picked himself up and got on with the game.
“It was hard work,” said the 27-year-old after 120 absorbing minutes of high quality football. The penalty save at the end meant “the better team” ultimately triumphed. “The penalties before [the save] were superbly taken, ours included,” commented the Germany number one, “I'd have been delighted if it had been the same in the Champions League final two years ago.” No-one has forgotten that Chelsea triumphed that night, as Neuer remarked: “We certainly had a minor score to settle.”
Praise from Čech
The Bayern keeper did not waste time thinking too hard about the shootout in the minutes before it started. Quite the opposite, in fact: he held a friendly and animated conversation with Chelsea counterpart Petr Čech. “I asked him if he’d be taking a penalty again,” revealed Čech, “but he said he wasn’t one of the takers today.” Neuer converted from the spot in the Champions League final in May 2012, but in Prague he focused completely on his real job. “He played very, very well,” said the Czech veteran and former world keeper of the year, “he made some important saves in the second half and then stopped the decisive penalty at the end.”
And how do you save a penalty? There’s no great secret to it, Manuel insisted. “What can you do as a goalkeeper? You simply try to react to the taker’s run up – and I chose to dive to the left.“ After that, it was all celebrations.