Snapshot – Two tosses of a coin

On March 23rd and 24th, 1965 20,000 Köln fans had made their way to Rotterdam to see their club take on the Liverpool’s star ensemble in the third and deciding match of the quarter final of the 1964/65 European Cup. What they witnessed was an incredible bit of footballing history.

Both the match in Köln and in Liverpool had ended in a goalless draw, meaning that the two teams had to play each a third time on a neutral ground. The first match in the Müngersdorferstadion saw the Billy Goats creating chance after chance, but failing to score. Anton Schumacher had one of his best days in his career when he saved a number of incredible shots in the return leg at Anfield Road. Back then there was no extra time if two teams were still level after 180 minutes, and UEFA scheduled a third match on neutral ground to find which side should progress from the quarter finals.

Wolfgang Weber – The tragic hero of the tale

The matchup in Rotterdam is part of football history and folklore in Köln these days. Partly due to the heroic effort Effzeh player Wolfgang Weber put in on that day. The German international had already put in a brilliant performance keeping Roger Hunt out of the match over 180 minutes, Hunt ended up being Liverpool’s top scorer with seven goals in this particular European campaign.

What is mostly remembered, however, is his collision with Gordon Milne and its consequences. Weber limped off the pitch feeling a stabbing pain in his right calf. In the dressing room Köln’s team doctor was supposed to get him ready for the second half. Back then substitutions weren’t allowed! Weber was asked to jump off the massage table. After his landing the doctor concluded the Weber was good to go for the second half, and administered some pain killers.

Whilst Weber was treated for what in the end turned out to be a torn calf (Weber himself thinks that his jump down from the massage table must have torn the already injured calf) the game had rolled on. Liverpool had taken a 2-0 lead through goals by Ian St. John and Gordon Milne.

However, shortly before the break Karl-Heinz Thielen managed to get the ball over the line with a header from 10 meters, meaning that the Billy Goats only needed to chase one more goal in the second half to go to extra time. Hennes Löhr provided the much needed second goal only four minutes after the break with a belter from distance. Weber had in the meantime started to play on the left wing, being fairly static, but still participating in his team’s passing game if needed. Years later Weber said that Köln were playing with 10 and a quarter men against Liverpool’s 11 in the second half of that match.

The tragic end

Despite a couple of good chances after the equaliser the match ended 2-2 after 90 minutes. 30 minutes of extra time ended without a change of the score line, and in the end a coin toss had to decide the fates of the two teams. Referee Schaut from Belgium threw the coin up in the air, but the coin got stuck in the mud, falling neither way, and the toss had to be repeated.

After the second go around and more than five hours of football, which had ended with the two sides being level, it were Liverpool’s players who could celebrate what is most likely the quarter final win with the narrowest margin in the European Cup’s history. The coin had eliminated the first ever Bundesliga champions from the competition.

Here are all the goals and the two coin tosses.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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