Things looked grim for Manchester United after Cristiano Ronaldo, having shed his big-game bottler tag earlier in the evening, claimed it back with interest and missed his penalty.
Chelsea had one kick to win it, and the only thing that could save United was some good old-fashioned English blood and guts.
They got it in the form of John Terry, who showed once again that having enough courage to take a potentially decisive penalty is only half the battle. The other half is not falling over.
Penalties are not a lottery - it is one of football's most enduring and irritating myths. The match itself is much more a game of chance.
Football is a complex sport that is affected by the referee's decisions, the weather, the state of the pitch and countless unforeseen factors.
By contrast, penalties are the ultimate laboratory experiment, carried out under controlled conditions. Nothing could be less like a lottery (except perhaps Holly Willoughby).
That is not to say shootouts can't be decided by fine margins, but ultimately if you hit the outside of the post there's not much chance of the ball ending up in the back of the net.
Having seen 21 other players slip over an average of 3.64 times per minute for each of the previous 120, Terry might have known to watch his footing.
This sort of misfortune only befalls Englishmen. It recalled David Beckham's misses against Turkey (lost footing and blazed over, blamed pitch) and Portugal (blazed over, blamed defective penalty spot).
No such excuses for those of German stock, as Michael Ballack and Owen Hargreaves (sorry, but he is) buried their kicks, as did the Latin American contingent of Carlos Tevez, Anderson and Juliano Belletti.
History is written by the winners. Everyone will forget two hours of shockingly bad goalkeeping from Edwin van der Sar and focus on the moment he went from zero to hero, while there is instant redemption for Carlos Tevez, Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs for their missed sitters.
You can say it was fate for United to win on the 50th anniversary of the Munich air crash, led up the steps by Bobby Charlton on the day Giggs broke his appearances record for the club.
But it would also have been 'fate' had Terry, Frank Lampard or Didier Drogba hit the net instead of the woodwork; if Roman Abramovich had won on home turf.
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The presentation ceremony showed in a nutshell why most English fans dislike United but despise Chelsea, neatly encapsulating the difference between new money and old.
The winners were led up by Charlton, a legend for club and country and a man of such quiet dignity he wouldn't even put on his medal.
A minute or two earlier, the tearful John Terry had to traipse up behind the loathsome Peter Kenyon - a living, breathing, smirking incarnation of all that is commercial and tacky in the modern game.
Kenyon made his name as United's chief executive before jumping ship to Chelsea, where he is paid considerably more to make grandiose yet meaningless statements about turning the club into a world brand.
Publicity Pete mark II seized his moment, glad-handing all and sundry with a jaunty grin, robbing the distraught Terry of his last shred of dignity.
When a soaking, hangdog Avram Grant eventually went up, Michel Platini handed him two medals. The second can only have been for Jose Mourinho, who oversaw the early part of Chelsea's European campaign.
A conscientious sort, Grant clearly put it away for safekeeping to send to Mourinho later. So what did ED see him chucking into the crowd moments later?
(And yes, ED knows it was Drogba's. But still, can't blame Avram for getting rid of it.)
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Being a continental showpiece, everyone seemed excessively concerned what foreign viewers might think.
It was generally agreed that they would appreciate both teams' commitment and hard work, despite a general lack of technique and tactical nous.
It was like they were talking about a crunch Conference North game between Leigh RMI and Blyth Spartans - even Sky were at it.
How peculiar that those people most responsible for hyping the Premier League to within an inch of its life would fall victim to such circumspection.
Presumably it is hard to see the wood for the trees when you spend your life pretending Wigan v Sunderland is the most important event since creation.
It takes a lot for Early Doors to say something positive about English football, but these teams were in the Champions League final for a reason.
The simple fact is no foreign team knocked out any of the four Premier League sides; Liverpool beat Arsenal, Chelsea beat Liverpool, United beat Chelsea. If that isn't a sign of dominance, then it is hard to know what is.
Of course next year might be different, but for the moment ED's Mediterranean cousins Doors can stick their carping up their habitually-late, scooter-riding, kissing-on-both-cheeks rear ends. Losers.
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Much was made of Chelsea's extra experience, as though this were unquestionably an advantage. But when your big match experience consists largely of failure and disappointment, just how helpful is it?
Michael Ballack lost everything there is to lose with Bayer Leverkusen, while Terry and Lampard have spent years crashing out of major tournaments with England.
Yes, Florent Malouda played in the World Cup final, but Early Doors seems to remember he was crap and France lost.
When Ryan Giggs ran onto Patrice Evra's pullback, was he thinking about the open goal he missed against Arsenal in the FA Cup a few years ago? His rotten finish suggests he might have been.
Experience is overrated. Sometimes the absence of mental scars allow clarity of thought at the crucial moment.
It's all very well if you've been there, done that and bought the t-shirt, but if the t-shirt says 'I ballsed it up under pressure' it's not much use, is it?
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Like Claude Makelele, Barnsley victories and Rafa Benitez's tactical genius, cramp only ever seems to show up in cup competitions.
Early Doors isn't talking about extra time - Rio Ferdinand went down in the 69th minute with it, while Frank Lampard appeared to be suffering at the same time.
A similar thing happened in the Carling Cup final, while in the 2006 FA Cup final Steven Gerrard scored his screamer of an injury-time equaliser while basically hobbling around on one leg.
Nobody ever gets cramp in the league, where it is seen as thoroughly avoidable and unprofessional - Sam Allardyce used to fine his players for it in the days when he had a job.
But introduce a knockout format and players' potassium levels seem to plummet through the floor. Bizarre.
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QUOTES OF THE DAY:
"Penalties are a lottery," Ryan Giggs.
"Penalties are a lottery," Henk Ten Cate.
"Penalties are a lottery," Cristiano Ronaldo.
CHUMP OF THE DAY: Didier Drogba, obviously. His petulant little slap on Nemanja Vidic denied Chelsea one of their best penalty takers and might just have lost his side the Champions League. Early Doors actually likes Drogba, but it was an idiotic way to end his time at Stamford Bridge.
It also didn't say much about either Drogba or Avram Grant that the Chelsea boss at one point had to grab the striker by the shirt in order to stop him walking off and ignoring Grant's instructions.
FOREIGN VIEW: "Ramon, don't f*** with me about Ronaldo." Yes, that's the headline in Marca as David Gill tells Real Madrid they can't have United's penalty choke artist. The Spanish have a relaxed attitude to swearing...
TALKING POINT: alihatefi points out that Early Doors should be somewhat skint this morning after yesterday offering odds of 30,000/1 that fans would swap shirts (and signed weapons) with Russian law men: "Pay Up ED, I just saw United fans exchanging shirts with the police in the stadium!" Thankfully for the contents of the murky dungeon ED calls home, nobody snapped up those odds.
Today - So, er, what did you make of the football last night?
COMING UP: Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! That's the sound of a pantechnicon reversing into place, ready to drop off its truckload of Champions League reaction.
Video - Ronaldo: I missed but I'm still the best
Fergie to phase out veterans
No arrests (in Russia)
Grant sympathy for Terry
Drogba: Hero to zero
Player ratings: Ballack star man
Champions League final: As it happened
Photo gallery from Moscow
See? And there's more to come.
Plus the Scottish title is decided this evening, with Rangers and Celtic playing what promises to be a classic game of goal difference. Follow LIVE commentary from 7.45pm!