Champions League

10 Greatest European Nights In British Football History

 • by Ryan Baldi
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The Champions League returns this week and the 2017/18 campaign has seen a return to form for the Premier League’s elite in UEFA’s showpiece competition.

Tottenham Hotspur have been the stand-out performers so far, defeating both Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid to ensure they qualify for the knock-out stages as group winners.

Meanwhile, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea are all on course to progress into the last 16, as the English sides look to re-establish themselves among Europe’s elite after a barren few years in the Champions League.

However, throughout the history of European football, British clubs have enjoyed tremendous success, with many of the continent’s greatest ever sides coming from these shores.

We’ve compiled a list of the ten greatest ever European nights involving British clubs, all of which led to silverware being transported across the Channel.

Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (Liverpool win 3-2 on penalties) – 2005 Champions League final

Perhaps the most dramatic final in the history of European football. Liverpool found themselves 3-0 down to AC Milan at half-time of the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul, seemingly without a prayer of recovery.

However, the Reds required just six second-half minutes to level things up, through Steven Gerrard, Vladimír Šmicer and Xabi Alonso, wrestling momentum back from Carlo Ancelotti’s men and sending the game into extra time.

In the additional 30-minute period, Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek denied Andriy Shevchenko from point-blank range, sending the game to penalties.

Dudek was again the hero in the shootout, producing a Cup-winning save to once more deny Shevchenko, earning Liverpool their fifth European Cup triumph.

Celtic 2-1 Inter Milan – 1967 European Cup final

Remembered fondly as the “Lisbon Lions”, the Celtic side that beat Helenio Herrera’s Inter Milan – defeating the Nerazzurri‘s negative catenaccio tactics to boot – became the first British side to lift the European Cup.

Jock Stein’s men were physically solid and technically sound, espousing a simple yet effective 4-4-2.

Herrera’s side had become one of the most feared in Europe and were expected to reclaim the famous trophy having won it in 1965 and ’66.

But Celtic had other ideas. One-nil down thanks to a seventh-minute Sandro Mazzola penalty, goals from Tommy Gemmell and Stevie Chalmers gave the Hoops a landmark win.

Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich – 1999 Champions League final

Teddy Sheringham

When United faced off against Bayern Munich at Barcelona’s Camp Nou in May of 1999, the victor was to secure a historic treble of league, cup and Champions League.

And for much of the game it looked as though it would be the German’s who’d attain what was, at the time, a rare triple crown.

Midfielder Mario Basler outfoxed Peter Schmeichel with a 20-yard free-kick after just six minutes, and the Bavarians dictated play for most of the game.

However, showing the kind of never-say-die spirit that came to epitomise United under Sir Alex Ferguson, the Red Devils fought back, striking twice in stoppage time through substitutes Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær to stun Bayern and complete one of the game’s great comebacks.

Nottingham Forest 1-0 Malmö – 1979 European Cup final

Brian Clough had already proved himself to be a miracle worker in the East Midlands after guiding unfancied Derby to the summit of the English game, but he had a point to prove upon joining Nottingham Forest after a disastrous spell in charge of Leeds United.

Having taken Forest up to the top flight, Clough secured a First Division title for the City Ground club at the first time of asking, a remarkable achievement bettered only by their exploits in Europe the following season.

A 2-0 two-legged victory over reigning European champions Liverpool in the first round of the 1978/79 European Cup set the tone, and Forest claimed their first ever continental triumph by beating Malmö in the final in Munich’s Olimpiastadion thanks to £1million man Trevor Francis’ header.

Clough’s side repeated the feat a year later, beating Club Brugge at Wembley to retain the trophy.

Aston Villa 1-0 Bayern Munich – 1982 European Cup final

Aston Villa‘s 1982 European Cup win meant that the continent’s biggest prize had resided in England for five years in a row, following back-to-back triumphs for Liverpool and then Nottingham Forest.

The Villains faced German giants Bayern Munich in the Rotterdam final, only six years removed from their three-year dominion over the trophy in the mid-1970s.

A single Peter Withe goal was enough to seal victory for Tony Barton’s men, clinching first European Cup for the club from the Second City.

Ipswich Town 3-0 AZ – 1981 UEFA Cup final, first leg

pswich Town

Ipswich Town‘s 1981 UEFA Cup triumph remains tinged somewhat with a hint of regret, as Bobby Robson’s Tractor Boys slipped up in their pursuit of the First Division title at the business end of the season.

However, that shouldn’t colour the memory of their magnificent European achievement negatively. The Portman Road club smashed Michel Platini’s great Saint-Étienne side 7-2 on aggregate and saw off Cologne on their road to the final, where they triumphed over AZ Alkmaar of the Eredivise.

Town hammered their Dutch visitors 3-0 in the home portion of the two-legged final, giving them enough breathing space to claim the trophy despite a 4- second-leg defeat in Amsterdam.

Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 Atlético Madrid – 1963 Cup Winners’ Cup final

Tottenham became the first British side to taste European success in the 1962/63 season thanks to their Cup Winners’ Cup victory.

Spurs were one of the most dynamic and exciting teams in England at the time, boasting such talents as legendary goal-scorer Jimmy Greaves up front and the great Danny Blanchflower in midfield.

Atlético Madrid were their opponents in the final, and the Spaniards were dispatched with ease, Spurs running out 5-1 winners thanks in no small part to a Greaves double.

Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (Manchester United win 6-5 on penalties) – 2008 Champions League final

Although the game itself wasn’t a classic by any means, with two well-matched sides producing a tight, tense encounter, the 2008 Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester United is significant in that it was the first, and thus far only, all-British Champions League final.

Cristiano Ronaldo headed United into a 26th-minute lead – his 42nd goal of that season – before Frank Lampard pounced to equalise at the end of the first half.

With the two sides inseparable through 120 minutes, an Edwin van Der Sar save from Nicolas Anelka’s spot kick, and Ryan Giggs’ subsequent conversion from 12 yards, handed United their third European Cup, adding it to their Premier League title triumph that season.

West Ham United 2-0 1860 Munich – 1965 Cup Winners’ Cup final

Alan Sealey scores the first of his two goals in the final of the European Cup Winners Cup final

Two years after Tottenham became the first British side to win a European trophy, West Ham United brought the Cup Winners Cup back to London.

The Hammers were captained by a 24-year-old Bobby Moore, who would go on to lead England to the World Cup a year later, as well as featuring future Three Lions heroes Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters.

They faced 1860 Munich in the final, which was played at Wembley in front of 97,974 fans, most of whom of a West Ham persuasion. A brace by Alan Sealey, whose nephew Les would go on to keep goal for the Hammers in the mid-1990s, was enough to land the silverware fro Ron Greenwood’s side.

Aberdeen 2-1 Real Madrid – 1983 Cup Winners’ Cup final

Long before the knighthood and the innumerable trophies with Manchester United, Alex Ferguson put himself on the map by making Aberdeen a force not only domestically but in Europe too.

The Dons reached the 1982/83 Cup Winners’ Cup final after seeing off Bayern Munich in the quarter-final and Belgian side Waterschei Thor in the semi. But few would have given them much of a chance heading into their showdown with Real Madrid.

Yet, although they needed extra time to get the job done, Aberdeen upset the odds with a historic 2-1 victory over Los Blancos, with John Hewitt’s 112th-minute goal proving decisive.

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