Liverpool face Tottenham in what will be only the second all-English Champions League final next month, 11 years after domestic rivals Manchester United beat Chelsea in a dramatic penalty shoot-out in Moscow.
United were looking to secure another European triumph to add to their Premier League crown, having held off Liverpool’s title challenge and edging out Barcelona in the semi-finals.
Chelsea, meanwhile, had battled past the Reds in their semi-final to reach the Champions League final for the first time.
Cristiano Ronaldo made the breakthrough for United at the Luzhniki Stadium with his 42nd goal of the season, heading in at the back post from Wes Brown’s cross after 26 minutes.
Chelsea keeper Petr Cech saved a diving header from Carlos Tevez and then denied Michael Carrick from the rebound.
It proved a key moment as the Blues then fought back to equalise just before half-time.
Michael Essien’s attempted shot from 25-yards took two deflections on its way towards goal, the most telling was off the back of United captain Rio Ferdinand.
It changed the direction of the ball into the path of Frank Lampard, who duly supplied the finish from six yards.
The second half proved a somewhat scrappy affair, with the weather conditions worsening.
With 12 minutes left, Didier Drogba’s 20-yard effort had Edwin Van Der Sar beaten, but cannoned back off the post.
United sent on Ryan Giggs to make his 759th appearance for the club, breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s record.
As the final went into extra time, Chelsea were denied again by the woodwork when Lampard’s shot crashed against the crossbar.
At the other end, Blues captain John Terry cleared a goalbound effort from Giggs off his own line.
With tempers boiling over, an ugly melee resulted in Drogba becoming only the second player – after Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann in 2006 – to be sent off in a Champions League final.
The Ivory Coast forward was shown a red card by Slovakian referee Lubos Michel for slapping United defender Nemanja Vidic.
Tevez, around whom the original incident centred, and Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack were also booked.
With neither side able to break the deadlock, the European Cup was settled by the lottery of spot-kicks.
All of the first four penalties were scored, before Ronaldo saw his effort saved by Cech.
With a chance to win the trophy for the London club, Terry stepped up to take Chelsea’s fifth penalty, but his standing foot slipped just as he went to kick the ball, which spun onto the outside of the post.
As the shootout eventually moved to sudden death with the scores locked at 5-5, Ryan Giggs slotted in – before Van Der Sar proved the hero when he saved Nicolas Anelka’s shot to seal a third European Cup triumph for United.
Liverpool’s astonishing win over Barcelona was a Champions League tie for the ages – but Tottenham may have trumped them with what could be the competition’s greatest comeback.
Spurs trailed 3-0 on aggregate with just 35 minutes plus stoppage time remaining against Ajax in Amsterdam, only for Lucas Moura’s hat-trick to sensationally see them through to the final.
That is the latest a team have trailed by three goals before winning a knockout tie in the Champions League era – trumping Liverpool’s memorable 2005 final in Istanbul by one minute.
The Reds’ own efforts against Barcelona rank fifth on the list – their three-goal deficit lasted only until Divock Origi’s seventh-minute opener at Anfield, giving them 83 minutes for a fightback completed by Georginio Wijnaldum’s brace and Origi’s second goal.
Monaco trailed Real Madrid 5-2 on aggregate going into first-half stoppage time in their 2004 quarter-final, before Ludovic Giuly sparked their comeback to win on away goals.
Barcelona trailed Paris Saint-Germain 4-0 after the first leg of their last-16 tie in 2017, so have their own claim to the greatest comeback on that basis. They were still three down with 49 minutes remaining in a second leg they eventually won 6-1.
They also overturned an early three-goal deficit to beat Chelsea 6-4 on aggregate after extra time in their quarter-final in 2000, but have often been on the receiving end.
Indeed, lightning has struck twice in successive seasons for the Catalan giants as Liverpool’s comeback happened just a minute quicker than Roma’s similar effort in last year’s quarter-final. Roma lost 4-1 in the Camp Nou but won the return leg 3-0.
Deportivo La Coruna’s famous win over AC Milan in 2004, having lost the first leg 4-1, saw them complete their comeback in 85 minutes after Walter Pandiani’s fifth-minute strike in the second leg.
Between 1973 and 1990 the Reds claimed 11 league titles and a quartet of European Cups, all four won in an eight-season spell.
They were the most feared side on the continent and the benchmark for the rest of Europe.
That power has been gradually eroded but after the remarkable 4-3 aggregate win over Barcelona secured back-to-back Champions League finals, Van Dijk believes they are starting to re-establish their standing in the game.
“Hopefully. That’s something we work towards,” said the Holland captain.
“I feel that (Manchester) City already have that bit of status because they have been dominating last year so much.
“Hopefully we can keep going and make it very difficult for any team in the world.
“We have a great age group. Between 20 and 27, 28, so hopefully we can do it all together for the next couple of years at least and grow as a team and hopefully get a lot of success.”
With a place in Madrid secured, Liverpool still have an outside chance of winning their first domestic title since 1990.
They need to beat Wolves on Sunday and hope City drop points at Brighton to pip their rivals in an extraordinarily tight title race.
“If it happens, it happens. We have no influence on that. They have it in their hands,” added the Professional footballers’ Association Player of the Year.
“We’re still in this season and still anything is possible.
“If it doesn’t happen then it’s not the end of the world. We’ve had a fantastic season, both of us. Man City have been outstanding as well.
“To compete with them says a lot about how we’re progressing from last year. It’s just the start. It’s not like next year we’re not going to try to do it again. It’s something we have to build on.
“Hopefully ourselves are going to keep challenging for the title. Man City are one of the best teams in the world and they’ve shown it the whole season how difficult they can make it for any team in the world.
“The only thing we can do is try to win both: the Wolves game and the final.
“Deserve is not the right word. We have been outstanding this season and if something happens, everyone can be very proud and happy.”
Despite the position they are in, Van Dijk insists there is no pressure to win a trophy for validation of what is happening under Jurgen Klopp, who has lost his last six finals.
“Different teams in the world have a real urgency to win the Champions League and if they don’t it’s a real failure to their season,” he said.
“I don’t think we should think of it as a failure if we don’t win the Champions League.
“It’s not like we had a terrible season or we failed this season. It’s just the start and hopefully we can try to do this every year.”
Provided by Press Association Sport