European nights to remember
Date: 27th June 2015
THIS week saw the draws for the qualifying round of the Champions League and Europa League being made, with Celtic drawn to face FC Stjarnan of Iceland, Inverness Caley Thistle will begin their first-ever European campaign against Astra Giurgiu, Derek McInnes’ Aberdeen have a trip to Macedonia to play KF Shkendija and St Johnstone face a long journey to Armenia to play Alashkert.
With so many of the clubs our Scottish sides face at this early stage in the competition being recognised as a mystery, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look at times where Scottish sides have upset the odds against bigger sides and suffered humiliation at the hands of some of the so-called lesser sides.
We are going to delve deep into the past as there are plenty of results from the 21st Century which are still fresh in the mind, so here are a few you may have forgotten.
First off, we are going to look at the times our teams have had the odds stacked against them and came out fighting.
We have to begin with one of the greatest nights in Scottish football’s glorious history. The year we are referring to is, of course, 1967 and the place is Lisbon. Jock Stein’s Celtic side — made up of men who were born within 30 miles of the stadium — played entertaining football throughout their campaign and on May 25 of that year, the Celts were rewarded for their efforts, lifting the European Trophy; becoming not only the first Scottish club to do so, but the first British side to achieve the feat. A 2-1 victory thanks to goals from Tommy Gemmell and Stevie Chalmers won it for Stein’s men on the night after they went a goal down against the Italians thanks to a seventh-minute penalty. The win broke the continental stronghold on the trophy and just a year later, Manchester United won the Cup.
However, just six years before this triumph, Hibernian were one of the first Scottish clubs to claim a famous win over European competition. In 1961, Hibs were coming to the end of a successful period for the club and were drawn against Barcelona — who were beginning to show signs of being able to challenge Real Madrid as the top club in Spain — the Catalan side actually knocked their Madrid rivals out of the competition. After the first leg at Easter Road was postponed due to heavy fog, the first time the sides met was in Catalonia. Hibs led 2-0, before Barca went ahead 4-2 only for the Easter Road side to level things up at 4-4, which was how the game ended. If that was not enough of an upset, what happened in the second leg eclipsed that. Barca led 2-1 at half-time, however, in the final 10 minutes all hell broke loose. Hibs equalised before winning a penalty which led to Barca legend Luis Suarez (no, not that one!) kicking the official allowing the Leith men to win the tie 7-6 on aggregate.
A year later, there was more glory for a Scottish side, this time against a German opponent. Dundee played host to Cologne in 1962, right in the middle of a successful period for the club, and under the stewardship of Bob Shankly, the Dens Park side scored a remarkable 8-1 win over the Germans. Cologne lost their keeper to injury in the first leg, so played their second-choice in the return leg in Germany. However, in the second leg, Dundee also lost their first-choice stopper, Bert Slater, after he was kicked in the head. That was not the end of it for Slater, though. With the Germans clawing their way back into the tie, he recovered and went back in goals and Dundee held on to reach the next round. It proved not to be a fluke, either, as they triumphed over Sporting Lisbon and Anderlecht before AC Milan brought their run to an end.
1972 saw Rangers reach similar heights to their Glasgow rivals as they beat German giants Bayern Munich 2-0 at Ibrox. It was a dull period for Rangers, who had just watched Celtic be crowned league champions for the seventh time in a row, and Germany was becoming a dominant force in European competition. However, Rangers — led by captain John Greig — won the European Cup Winners’ Cup thanks to a 3-2 win over Dynamo Moscow in the Final. En route to the Final, the Ibrox men were faced with the task of their Bavarian opponents and after a 1-1 draw in Germany, there was a glimmer of hope for the club in the return leg. Sandy Jardine and Derek Parlane grabbed the goals which saw them into the Final, giving some respite from their city rivals.
For the second and final time on this list, Barcelona were the opponents which were seen off by a Scottish side in European competition. This time, however, the year is 1987 and the destination is the Nou Camp. The UEFA Cup pitted Dundee United against the Catalan club and, amazingly, United triumphed not once — but twice — over Barca. Terry Venables was in charge of the Spanish side and they had players such as Gary Lineker and Mark Hughes leading the attack and Andoni Zubizarreta in goal, but it was the Scots who came away with the win. United held a slender 1-0 lead from the first leg, but the glory was rounded off in Catalonia as United came away with a 2-1 win thanks to late goals from John Clark and Iain Ferguson. This was arguably the greatest night in the clubs history, with even the Barca fans holding out white handkerchiefs in surrender.
We will finish with the latest truly memorable — for the right reasons, at least, — European night for a Scottish side. Taking a step back a few years earlier, however, everyone can appreciate Sir Alex Ferguson’s Gothenburg Greats. 1983 was the year when Fergie truly established himself as a world-class boss. Despite the club being in the midst of its golden years, Aberdeen came up against Real Madrid in the Final of the Cup Winners’ Cup in Sweden. And boy, did they do well! Eric Black opened the scoring after seven minutes, but then another seven minutes later Juanito levelled the scores from the penalty spot. Extra time loomed until the 82nd minute, when John Hewitt popped up and found the back of the net with a header from Mark McGhee’s cross. Of course, Fergie went on to win the top club competition a couple more times, but we like to think that this was his best one ever.
That concludes our small look at great nights in Europe for Scottish clubs. There are, of course, plenty more examples of when Scottish clubs have upset the odds, but theses are the ones that you may have forgotten — or in some cases — just had to be mentioned without boring you to death.
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Tags: Aberdeen, Barca, Barcelona, Celtic, Dundee, Dundee United, Easter Road, Hibs, Ibrox, Jock Stein, Leith, Rangers, Real Madrid, Sir Alex Ferguson, Terry Venables