Football

Top Five: Champions League finals

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United shocked Bayern in 1999 (©GettyImages)
United shocked Bayern in 1999 (©GettyImages).

Chelsea will be hoping to end their pursuit of European football’s ultimate prize tomorrow when they go up against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final in Munich.

 

Chelsea have appeared in one final before, losing out to Manchester United on penalties back in 2008, while Bayern have won the competition four times, the last time coming in 2001, but most recently lost out to Inter Milan in 2010.

 

With the biggest game in European football on the horizon, GMF takes a stroll down memory lane to bring you five of the best games in the competition's history.

 

AC Milan 4-0 Barcelona, 1994, Athens

 

The end of an era as far as Barcelona were concerned, Johan Cruyff’s side were expected to steam-roll Fabio Capello’s AC Milan in Greece.

 

Cruyff and his team were later accused of arrogance and complacency which some say was key to their downfall.

 

“We're more complete, competitive and experienced than [in the 1992 final] at Wembley. Milan are nothing out of this world. They base their game on defence, we base ours on attack,” he said before the game.

 

The fact Milan’s defensive icon Franco Baresi was absent for the final through suspension may have had an impact on Capello’s thinking as he decided to try and match Barca’s fire with fire.

 

Daniele Massaro bagged two goals, Dejan Savićević got the third of the game with an outrageous lob and Marcel Desailly rounded off a comprehensive win just before the hour mark to vanquish the heavy favourites.

 

Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich, 1999, Barcelona

 

Many people’s vote for the greatest European Cup/Champions League final of all time, Manchester United’s dramatic win over Bayern Munich will live long in the memory for its thrilling finale.

 

Bayern had led the game for 85 minutes thanks to Mario Basler’s early free kick in the Nou Camp, with United struggling badly without the influence of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes in midfield, who were both suspended.

 

It took the influence of two substitutes to turn the tide. First, Teddy Sheringham drew the scores level with 91 minutes showing on the clock, before Ole Gunnar Solskjær earned himself a place in the history books with his 93rd minute strike.

 

Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan, 2005, Istanbul

 

A real challenger as the greatest final of all time, Liverpool’s resurrection from the dead having gone 3-0 down against AC Milan in 2005 was something to behold.

 

Liverpool looked shell-shocked as they struggled to make any impact whatsoever in Istanbul, with Paolo Maldini giving Milan a first-minute lead before Hernan Crespo's double moved the score on to 3-0 in the blink of an eye.

 

Reds boss Rafa Benitez seemingly faced up to his tactical error by introducing the influential Didi Hamann at half-time, and before long they were back in it, with Steven Gerrard scoring a header and Vladimir Smicer finding the back of the net with a low, long-range shot.

 

Xabi Alonso completed the turnaround after the Spaniard followed up his missed penalty to put the ball passed Dida. Jerzy Dudek made himself a hero in the penalty shoot-out and the rest is history.

 

 

Real Madrid 7-3 Frankfurt, 1960, Glasgow

 

Before the dawn of the Champions League, the European Cup reigned supreme, and there can be no finer game than the Supreme Madrid team of the 60’s destroying Frankfurt at Hampden Park.

 

Madrid’s sensational win, in which Alfredo Di Stefano scored a hat-trick and Ferenc Puskas got four in front of 134,000 entertained football fans, prompted the Daily Mail to write of the Spanish side’s performance: "It's just a pity that the thousands of people at the game, and who have to return to watching Scottish football, must have thought that they were dreaming."

 

The win marked the culmination of Madrid’s European dominance in which they won their fifth consecutive European Cup – a feat never likely to be matched.

 

Benfica 5-3 Real Madrid, 1962, Amsterdam

 

If the history of the European Cup in the late 50s and early 60s belonged to Real Madrid and Puskas and Di Stefano, then the 1962 final was the game in which a new order appeared.

 

Marking the first time Real Madrid had been defeated in the European Cup final, Benfica were rampant despite a Puskas hat-trick, with the Portuguese team winning the competition for the second season running.

 

Initially it looked as though the old masters would give the pretenders to the throne a harsh lesson, with Puskas completing his hat-trick inside 38 minutes, although Benfica were still in the game through goals from Jose Aguas and Domiciano Cavem.

 

In the second half a young Eusebio came to the fore, bagging two goals inside three second-half minutes following Mario Coluna’s equaliser. The old Kings had been vanquished and a new superstar had been born.

Topics:
Football
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Liverpool
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