1966 European Cup Winners Cup Final
European football once again takes center stage this week – with teams like Bayern Munich, Barcelona and PSG competing for a place in the Champions League semifinals. It is surprising then, that the game on everyone’s lips is not actually a Champions League quarterfinal but rather a Europa League quarterfinal. A match-up of two of the biggest and best supported teams in the world. Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool FC.
The Europa League doesn’t get much love in England, with teams sometimes treating the competition as an annoyance rather than an honour. It was good to see that some high-profile teams have done a lot to bring some respect and prestige back to the competition this season.
Former Champions League winners and runners-up such as Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen, FC Porto and Manchester United, who all failed to make it beyond the round of 16, show that the competition is fierce and tougher than ever to win. And of the 8 teams still remaining in the competition the European pedigree boasts three former UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup winners – Sevilla (4 titles), Liverpool (3) and Shakhtar Donetsk (1). Athletic Club (1977, 2012), Dortmund (1993, 2002) and Braga (2011) have all been losing finalists in this competition.
For two clubs with such rich European histories as Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool, it is surprising to note that they have only crossed paths in European Football on 3 separate occasions. Twice they met in the group stages of the 2001/2 Champions League, where the teams drew 0-0 in the Westfalenstadion and Liverpool prevailed 2-0 at Anfield thanks to goals from Vladimir Smicer and Stephen Wright.
The only other time they met in European football was in the 1965-66 UEFA Cup Winners Cup Final which was played at Hampden Park in Scotland – and it was the fans from Ruhrgebiet who went home celebrating as Borussia Dortmund won their first piece of European silverware in a 2-1 victory where extra time was needed to separate the teams.
While the stadium could have held almost 100,000 supporters the unpredictable Scottish weather had other ideas. Stormy conditions, combined with torrential rain, nearly flooded Hampden Park in the hours before the game. As such, just over 41,000 supporters actually attended the game.
Both teams were competing in their first ever European Final – Dortmund had gained entry to the competition by winning the 1964-65 DFB Pokal and Liverpool by winning the FA Cup. Each team had successfully negotiated their way through 4 rounds to reach the final. Dortmund had beaten Floriana (Malta), CSKA Sofia, Atletico Madrid and in the semifinals had successfully disposed of Cup Winners Cup holders West Ham United, defeating them home and away with an impressive showing.
Liverpool had a somewhat tougher route to the final dispatching Juventus, Standard Liège, Budapest Honvéd FC and Scottish giants Celtic in the semifinals. So even though the travelling Liverpudlians vastly outnumbered their German counterparts, the majority of neutral support went to Dortmund — the Scots having not forgiven Liverpool for eliminating Celtic in the semifinals.
Both teams were packed with quality, Dortmund boasted an impressive attacking line up which included West German internationals Siegfried Held, Alfred Schmidt, Reinhard Libuda and West German goalkeeper Hans Tilkowski. Liverpool under Bill Shankly were starting to dominate English Football with players like Ron Yeats, Ian Callaghan, Rodger Hunt and Ian St John. Liverpool’s hero from the semifinal, Geoff Strong, however missed the game through injury.
The first half of the game was mostly uneventful, with the pitch not helping either team. Both teams cancelled the threat of the other but still both sides still did manage to create some opportunities to take the lead. In the early moments of the game, Liverpool striker St. John had a shot cleared off the goal line. Midway through the half, Borussia defender Theodor Redder nearly scored an goal for the opposition when he almost headed the ball into his own net. While Liverpool dominated possession towards the end of the half, Dortmund began to have more of an attacking threat. They were only denied by a pair of saves from Liverpool goalkeeper Tommy Laurence who did brilliantly to deny Schmidt and when Held barged through the Reds defense the man they called ‘the flying pig’ was alert to parry away a powerful shot – the score remained 0-0 at half time.
The second half continued in the same manner as the first, with Liverpool enjoying the majority of the possession and Dortmund happy so sit back and counter attack. Liverpool, however, were rocked by a goal in the 61st minute which was largely against the run of play. In a momentary lapse of concentration Gordon Milne lost possession while deep in the Dortmund half, Borussia immediately launched a quick counter attack. A pass from Rudi Assauer found Held who then fed Lothar Emmerich out on the touchline. Held then cut in towards goal to receive the return pass, finding just enough space in between Yeats and Smith on the edge of the Liverpool penalty area and crashing home a volley from Emmerich’s cross past a stranded Lawrence.
To their credit, Shankly’s boys refused to succumb to the shock of conceding and seven minutes later they drew level, albeit through controversial circumstances. Peter Thompson skipped past three Borussia players down the left hand side before crossing from the by-line. Dortmund’s players claimed the ball had crossed the touchline and the linesman on the left hand side of the pitch signaled to the referee that the ball had indeed gone out of play. But the referee ignored him and allowed the goal to stand, play continued and the cross found Hunt who pulled the ball down with his right foot and then hammered it high into the net with his left.
Hundreds of Liverpool fans swarmed on to the Hampden Park pitch in celebration as the entire Borussia team protested to the referee. Confusion reigned but the goal stood and once the pitch was cleared Liverpool pressed forward in search of a winner.
Both teams struggled to create many meaningful chances for the rest of the game until the very end of the half when Liverpool had a chance to win the match. A pass from St John sent Hunt racing clean through on goal with only the Talkowski to beat in the Dortmund goal. Instead of attempting a first time shot the normally deadly finisher decided to take the ball on a few yards and his subsequent effort was weak and comfortably saved by the West German International.
1-1. Extra time beckons.
In extra time Dortmund seemed content to stick to their game plan of sitting back, soaking up pressure and trying to catch the Merseyside club on the counter. And in the 107th minute that was exactly what they did. With their first attack of extra time Dortmund center back and captain Wolfgang Paul’s free kick over the Reds defense saw Held clean through on goal. Lawrence raced off his line to save courageously on the edge of the box. Unfortunately for Liverpool the ball bounced right to the feet of Libuda, 35 yards from goal and with Lawrence stranded in no-man’s-land he intelligently lobbed the ball over the helpless goalkeeper. Liverpool captain Yeats made a desperate attempt to race back in time but the ball cruelly came back off the inside of the post and deflected into the net off the body of the distraught Reds captain much to the delight of the German (and Scottish) fans.
Borussia Dortmund win 2-1. AET
The goal was enough to end Liverpool’s European dream while Borussia Dortmund became the first German club to win a European trophy.
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