Layth Yousif looks back on five stone-cold classics from the biggest club competition of them all.
5) 1962 European Cup Final
Águas 25′ Cavém 34′ Coluna 51′ Eusébio 65′ (pen.), 68′
Real Madrid 3
Puskás 17′, 23′, 38′
2 May 1962, Olympisch Stadion, Amsterdam, Attendance, 65,000
A battle between two legendary teams of the 60s. Or any era for that matter.
A deep lying Alfredo de Stefano volleyed to ball to Ferenc Puskas who killed it stone dead and raced 50 yards to fire a shot into the corner to put Madrid one up. It became two soon after. Yet Benfica showed why they were the holders and pulled it back to 2-2 by the 34th minute. Madrid showing the flair and determination that marked the early years of the European Cup and left an indelible mark on their history edged ahead 6 minutes before half time. Di Stefano playing a great through ball that dissected the Benfica defence with galloping Major on hand to complete his hat-trick inside 38 incredible minutes.
The legendary manager of the Eagles Bela Guttmann knew he had to put an end to de Stefano’s creative promptings and put destroyer Cavem onto him. It was to prove to be a masterstroke for the Portuguese team.
Puskas was now starved of the ball through di Stefano being shackled and Benfica never looked back. They reached parity with Coluna’s 25 yard strike six minutes into the second half.
On 64 minutes a tiring di Stefano brought down Eusebio in the box. The youngster from Mozambique slotted in the resulting penalty. Five minutes later he fired in a fifth from long distance. Benfica had won their second European Cup in a row after beating Barcelona the year before.
A long European reign beckoned. But fate had other ideas.
The legendary but brash, controversial and outspoken Guttmann, who had been quoted as saying ‘the third season is fatal’ in terms of managerial longevity – and who a certain Jose Mourinho has been likened to – played a part too.
Straight after the Guttmann asked Benfica directors for a pay rise. Directors being directors said no despite all the success he brought to Benfica. He walked out uttering the curse “Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion”. 50 years on and seven losing finals Euro finals they still haven’t.
4) 1994 Champions League Final
A C Milan 4
Massaro 22′, 45+2′ Savićević 47′ Desailly 58′
18 May 1994 Olympic Stadium, Athens, Attendance, 70,000
Barcelona were strong favourites to win their second European Cup in three years after beating Sampdoria at Wembley in 1992. Milan were in a mess. Van Basten was injured once more, Baresi and Costacurta were suspended and UEFA regulations saw boss Fabio Cappello forced to leave out Florin Răducioiu, Jean-Pierre Papin and Brian Laudrup under the three non national rule.
Milan had other ideas.
Massaro scored two before half time, Nadal lobbed experienced Spanish International keeper Zubizarreta in the 47th minute, Savićević hit a post shortly after before Desaily beat the offside trap to make it four by the 58th minute. It was a complete and utter evisceration of one of the biggest clubs in World Football. The football Milan played that steamy night in Athens – certainly up until the fourth – was mesmerising.
Cruel but mesmerising.
3) 1999 Champions League Final
Manchester United 2
Sheringham 90+1′ Solskjær 90+3′
Bayern Munich 1
26 May 1999, Camp Nou, Barcelona, Attendance, 90,045
A United fan I used to work with went to this game. He gave up his season ticket at Old Trafford a few seasons after, citing this game as one of the reasons why.
He told me nothing would ever match the drama, intensity and sheer joy at the little Norwegian’s late winner so why bother. He still goes of course but not so fervently or passionately.
For him nothing would ever be so powerful again, nothing would ever provoke such a concentrated high compared to this unforgettable night in Barcelona.
Football. Bloody Hell.
2) 2005 Champions League Final
A.C. Milan 3
Maldini 1′ Crespo 39′, 44′
Gerrard 54′ Šmicer 56′ Alonso 60′
3-3 aet Liverpool won 3–2 on penalties
Serginho Penalty missed
Pirlo Penalty missed
Tomasson Penalty scored
Kaká Penalty scored
Shevchenko Penalty missed
Penalty scored Hamann
Penalty scored Cissé
Penalty missed Riise
Penalty scored Šmicer
25 May 2005, Atatürk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul, Attendance, 72,059
Liverpool fans call this The Miracle of Istanbul. A million stories have emerged for all eternity from this night. A an old Scouse boss of mine who travelled the length and breadth of the Europe following the Reds in the 70s and 80s said as long as he lived he would never go to a more dramatic football match. Another Scouse pal texted me on the night after the last penalty. It read simply: ‘This is bigger than God”.
1) 1960 European Cup
Real Madrid 7
Di Stéfano 27′, 30′, 73′, Puskás 45+1′, 56′, 60′, 71′
Eintracht Frankfurt 3
Kreß 18′, Stein 72′, 75′
18 May 1960, Hampden Park, Glasgow, Attendance, 127,621
The night the Real Madrid legend became myth. The night heroes became legends and legends became gods. The night the attacking all white Los Merengue’s taught 127 thousand Scotsmen just how exactly their national game was meant to be played.
I don’t need to the goals. Look it up on Youtube and marvel at the peerless Argentine Di Stefano, the power and skill of the Hungarian Puskas and the trickery of Gento. If two players scored seven goals between them in tonight’s game lost Amazonian tribesmen who had never seen a white man would be wearing Munich or Dortmund shirts. Aboriginals in the parched Northern Terrorities would too.
What’s that you say? They already do. You’re probably right. That’s the power of football.
The power of the 1960 European Cup Final is in the finesse, the technique, the flair, the imagination, the fantasy. A round ball and eleven men can reach billons if you do it with joy, with positive intent. Both Dortmund and the current Munich vintage believe in attacking football.
This might mean a player on the hallowed Wembley turf tonight will be talked about in such reverential terms in 50 year’s time, or even for as long as football is played.
I for one can’t wait to find out who that will be.
Follow Layth on twitter @laythy29