EUROPEAN CUP HISTORY.COM
The 1959/60 European Cup tournament was possibly the greatest in the competitions history and emerged with possibly the greatest ever team as winners. Everything was set for a classic set of games right from the start as some of the biggest names in European football vied to take away Real Madrid’s crown. Real were still there of course, but they were now even stronger than ever before. Kopa had left to return to Reims, but Di Stefano, Gento and Puskas remained and were now joined by the industrious Luis del Sol who had been signed from Real Betis, and the pacy Brazilian winger Canario. The cup holders were joined in the competition by the newly crowned Spanish champions, Barcelona. Barcelona were tired of living in the shadow of their bitter rivals and were determined to wrench the European title away from Madrid’s grasp. Under the presidency of Don Francisco Miro-Sans, coach Helenio Herrera had put together a group of players that could match that of Real. The forward line included the fans favourite, the incredibly strong and technically proficient, Ladislav Kubala, along with his fellow Hungarians Sandor Kocsis and Zoltan Czibor and possibly the best Spanish attacker at that time, Luis Suarez – not to mention the brilliant South Americans Evaristo and Villaverde. Behind them were the likes of captain Segarra and Spain’s undisputed number one goalkeeper Ramallets. Having beaten Real Madrid to the Spanish title, they now had their eyes on being the first side to knock them out of the European Cup.
Having put six goals past CDNA Sofia in the home leg of their Qualifying Round tie, Barcelona further established themselves as potential winners when they came up against AC Milan in the First Round. Having been finalists and almost winners just two seasons ago, Milan were expected to be a serious test of Barcelona’s European credentials, but they were swept aside by an imperious Barcelona side which, having come away from the San Siro with an impressive 2-0 advantage, had proceeded to take the Italians apart in the home leg, winning 5-1.
Elsewhere in the First Round, Wolverhampton Wanderers suggested that they might make more of an impact second time around as they beat Red Star Belgrade 4-1 on aggregate. Rangers, who had the added incentive of the Final being played in their home town of Glasgow, knocked out Red Star Bratislava, Real Madrid thumped Jeunesse Esch of Luxembourg 12-2, while the previous years semi-finalists Young Boys Berne were beaten by German champions Eintracht Frankfurt after a 4-1 win for the Germans in Switzerland.
Once more, in the Quarter-Finals, Barcelona appeared to get one of the toughest draws possible - this time they were up against Wolves. Yet again, however, Barcelona brushed their opponents aside as they followed a 4-0 home win with a 5-2 victory in England to complete a humiliating 9-2 winning margin over the English champions. The game in Wolverhampton was notable for the performance of the Hungarian Sandor Kocsis. Having already scored twice, Kocsis fell just before half-time and dislocated his left shoulder. As a result, he fainted during the interval and required a pain killing injection before he could return to the field of play. Despite this, he proceeded to score twice more as Barcelona stormed through to the semi-finals. As the team waited at Birmingham Airport on their way back home, Herrera lectured the local journalists. ‘You in England are playing now in the style we continentals used many years ago with much physical strength, but no method, no technique.’
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Barcelona
In the other Quarter-Final ties, Real came back from losing 3-2 in Nice to beat the Frenchmen 4-0 in Madrid, Eintracht Frankfurt overcame Wiener SK and Rangers squeezed past Sparta Rotterdam after a replay in front of over 34,000 at Highbury in what was the first ever European Cup tie to be played in London.
Nice v Real Madrid
Rangers v Sparta Rotterdam
Few would have complained if the two Spanish giants had been kept apart until the final, but it was not to be as Real Madrid and Barcelona were drawn to play each other in the semi-finals. There seemed to be so little to choose between the two sides both in Europe and at home. Just two days before they met in the semi-final, the last round of games was completed in the Spanish Championship with the two teams locked together on points and goal difference – only goals scored could separate them and see Barcelona crowned champions for the second consecutive season. In their last league meeting, the Catalan side had come out on top, but the European Cup was different. This was the tournament that Real had made their own and you could be sure that the last team they wanted to finally end their reign was Barcelona.
Before the first leg in Madrid, Barcelona’s coach Herrera caused controversy by becoming involved in a bonus-payment claim by his players that resulted in him dropping both Kubala and Czibor. This upset many of the fans and the powers that be inside the club and would rebound on Herrera later. Barcelona may well have been the Kings of Spain, but they were taught a European lesson by the undisputed rulers of the continent when Real, under the guidance of new manager Miguel Munoz, earned a 3-1 win at the Bernabeu, although Barcelona were unfortunate to have two goals disallowed. The second leg, however, emphasised Real’s superiority in European football as they took a 3-0 lead through two Puskas goals and another from Gento, with Barcelona only able to score a late consolation goal from Kocsis. The pretenders had been well and truly swept aside, while Real marched on after an emphatic 6-2 win on aggregate. It was all too much for Barcelona as Herrera was immediately sacked. For Real it was final number five.
Barcelona v Real Madrid
The other semi-final suggested that there might be someone who could finally defeat the mighty Real Madrid. Having avoided the two Spanish favourites, Glasgow Rangers had high hopes of reaching the final at nearby Hampden Park – Eintracht were, after all, the first German team to reach the semi-finals and their players were only part-timers - but any hopes that the Scots had were soon dashed. The game in Germany, before 80,000 fans, began brightly with Eintracht taking an early lead despite having already missed a penalty. Rangers replied immediately and scored from the penalty spot. With the scores level at half-time there was all to play for, but in the second half there was only one team in it as the Germans scored a further five goals to run out 6-1 winners. If the Scots had thought that the return game would be easier, they were soon to be disappointed as Lindner gave Eintracht an 8th minute lead on the way to another crushing victory, this time by 6-3 – despite several fine saves by Niven in the Rangers goal - to complete a 12-3 aggregate win. The Ibrox crowd, in awe of Eintracht’s speed and movement, had never seen football like it and proceeded to applaud the Germans off at the end. Suddenly it seemed that Eintracht Frankfurt could be the team to de-throne Real Madrid.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Rangers
While Real had drawn players from throughout the world, Eintracht were very much a German team. The stars of their run to the Final had been the fine schemer Alfred Pfaff at inside left, who had scored four goals against Rangers in the semi-final, and dynamic winger Richard Kress. Also in attack were Erwin Stein, a dangerous but unpredictable young centre-forward, and Lindner who had already scored six times during their European campaign. Unfortunately for them, Eintracht would prove to be some way short of being capable of beating the great Real Madrid, but they did have the consolation of being involved in what many observers have described as the greatest game of all time.
On a warm, windswept night in Glasgow, May 18th 1960 was a date for records to be broken. The Hampden Park attendance of 127,621 is still the biggest for a European Cup Final, the gate receipts of £55,000 were then a British record, there were an estimated 70 million television viewers around Europe, and they were about to see the highest scoring European Cup Final ever.
Before kick-off, Ferenc Puskas, about to play in his first ever European final summed up the way that Real played. ‘Every man in our team is an attacker and we have the quality so many British sides envy. That is to be able to pull something out of the bag when things are not going well. Many people thought we were tired and would not win our semi-final against Barcelona but my quick goal gave us an advantage. Indeed it is our policy to go for an early lead in every game.’ And so it was that the game did begin with an early goal, but it was not the Spaniards who scored it. While Real began slowly and possibly with a little over confidence, the Germans began the game with verve and enthusiasm and immediately took the game to their more illustrious opponents. Indeed, in the very first minute, a Meier cross shot almost beat Dominguez in the Madrid goal, who only just touched the ball onto the bar and safety. Kress and Pfaff also tested the goalkeeper early on and it was no surprise when Eintracht took a deserved lead on 18 minutes when Kress volleyed a low cross into the net. With Real playing well below their best it appeared that a shock might be on the cards, but that was when Di Stefano took control of the game and Real produced a display that no team, and certainly not Eintracht, could have coped with. Almost immediately after the opening goal, a header from Puskas put Gento clear of the German defence and his shot clipped the outside of the post. Moments later, with his first foray into the Frankfurt penalty area, Di Stefano was found by Canario’s pass and swept the ball past goalkeeper Loy to maintain his incredible record of scoring in every European Cup Final. Two minutes later, Loy fumbled a Canario shot, and Di Stefano, even in his mid thirties, was quickest to react as he slammed the ball into the net and gave Real the lead. Di Stefano was now running the game, popping up in every area of the pitch and weaving patterns that simply mesmerised the opposition. With the speed and control of Gento and Canario and the technical perfection of Puskas in attack, the white shirts of Real swarmed around the Eintracht goal and it was clear that the German defence could survive no longer. Ferenc Puskas now showed his finishing power as he scored four goals without reply to put Real out of sight. The Hungarian made it 3-1 on the stroke of half-time when he crashed the ball into the roof of the net from the tightest of angles, added a penalty after 56 minutes following a foul by Lutz, and then scored another two, courtesy of a close range header and an 18 yard pivot shot, to give Real a 6-1 lead with twenty minutes remaining. Stein managed to pull a goal back for the Germans, but Di Stefano hit back almost immediately. Picking the ball up in the centre circle, he brushed aside one opponent and then played a one-two with a team-mate to get past two defenders. Darting right towards the penalty area, Di Stefano could not be caught as he unleashed a powerful shot from the edge of the area which saw the ball fly into the bottom left hand corner of the goal, giving the goalkeeper no chance whatsoever. Di Stefano had the hat-trick that he deserved.
Stein did manage to score yet again for the Germans who battled on until the final whistle, but they had been well and truly outclassed and, as the final whistle blew, the Hampden crowd cheered and applauded Real Madrid whose 7-3 victory had left them simply awestruck. No-one in that Scottish crowd had ever seen anything like it and the names of Gento, Canario, Puskas and, most of all, Di Stefano, would live in their memories for ever. Every spectator stayed to see the cup lifted by Zarraga and paraded around the ground as their 45 minute ovation showed their appreciation for what was possibly the finest display of football ever produced by one team. At the end, the Real players, with goalkeeper Dominguez carrying the cup, did a lap of honour around the Hampden track to a continuous roar that has seldom, if ever, been heard at a neutral venue. Real Madrid were the undisputed kings of Europe with, it seemed, no team able to come even close to their level of skill and artistry. They had now won the first five European titles, but rather than closing the gap, the rest of Europe now seemed to be further behind them than ever before. Real Madrid were, it seemed, in a league of their own.
1960 European Cup Final (Glasgow)
Real Madrid 7 Eintracht Frankfurt 3
Real Madrid: Dominguez, Marquitos, Santamaria, Pachin, Zarraga (capt), Vidal, Canario, Del Sol, Di Stefano, Puskas, Gento
Scorers: Puskas 4, Di Stefano 3
Eintracht Frankfurt: Loy, Lutz, Eigenbrodt, Hofer, Weilbacher, Stinka, Kress, Lindner, Stein, Pfaff (capt), Meier
Scorers: Stein 2, Kress
You can find details of all the results, dates and scorers on the RSSSF website here.