EUROPEAN CUP HISTORY.COM
The 1962/63 competition began with one of the biggest shocks in European Cup history. Up against the Belgian champions Anderlecht, the great Real Madrid could only achieve a 3-3 draw at the Bernabeu Stadium which saw them booed by their own supporters. Real were then beaten by the only goal scored by Jef Jurion hitting a thunderbolt shot into the back of the Real net with just five minutes of the return match in Brussels remaining and were eliminated to the amazement of football lovers around Europe. With the previous season’s finalists surprisingly knocked out at the first hurdle, the football world cast their eyes over the other results to pick out the teams most likely challenge Benfica as they attempted to win their third successive title.
The scoring feats of AC Milan, 14-0 aggregate winners over Union Luxembourg with Jose Altafini scoring eight times, and Ipswich Town, who racked up a 14-1 total against Floriana of Malta with Ray Crawford netting on seven occasions, certainly caught the eye, but the result that stood out even against those two score lines came in the tie between Scotland’s Dundee and the German champions of FC Koln. The first game came at Dens Park where Dundee were 3-0 up within twelve minutes. Soon after that, the visiting goalkeeper was injured in a clash with striker Alan Cousin, but he played on until the interval, by which time Dundee had scored two more. The goalkeeper was taken off at half-time, but the goals kept coming with the game finishing 8-1. The tie appeared to be well out of Koln’s grasp, but the Germans hit back in the second match. Early in the game, the Dundee goalkeeper received a kick to the head which meant he was only able to play out on the wing while Andy Penman, one of the goal scorers in the first game, went in goal. The stand-in goalkeeper played well enough, but by the hour mark he had let in four goals. Penman then had to face a Koln penalty, but fortunately for him and the Scottish champions, the spot kick was missed and the scoring ended, but had that penalty been scored, the greatest comeback in European Cup history may well have been on the cards.
Following their goal scoring exploits in the first round, the meeting of AC Milan and Ipswich Town in the second round promised a feast of attacking football. The tie pitched together two teams from different ends of the footballing scale. Ipswich were a small provincial club who had surprised English football by winning the championship in their first season following promotion from the second division. Under the stewardship of a young manager by the name of Alf Ramsey they would proceed to struggle in their league campaign as reigning champions, but held out high hopes of a good run in their first ever European venture. Milan, on the other hand, were one of the giants of Italian football with a rich history of success. Four time Italian champions in the 1950’s and European Cup finalists in 1958, they had enough money and allure to be able to attract the top players from around Italy, like the young and exciting Gianni Rivera, and from around the rest of the world, such as Jose Altafini and Dino Sani from Brazil. Now they were determined to go one better than they had five years earlier.
In the end it was the Italians that seized the initiative in the tie and never let it go. Ipswich were quickly undone by the aerial power of Paolo Barison who headed two goals within the first quarter of an hour in Milan, and a second half strike from Brazilian Dino Sani gave the Italian champions a healthy 3-0 first leg lead. When Barison struck again at Portman Road, the contest was effectively over, despite Ipswich coming back to win the second leg 2-1.
Following a 1-1 draw in Sweden, Benfica began their campaign with a 5-1 win over Norrkoping in Lisbon with Eusebio claiming a hat trick, but their local rivals and reigning Portuguese champions Sporting Lisbon were beaten 4-2 on aggregate by a Dundee side that was forcing the fancied teams in the competition to sit up and take notice of them. Elsewhere there was great excitement in Holland where Feyenoord of Rotterdam took on former semi-finalists Vasas Budapest. After the teams had played out two draws, a replay took place in the Belgian city of Antwerp. It was estimated that 30,000 Feyenoord fans travelled to the game and legend has it that there was a traffic jam from the Dutch-Belgian border all the way to the stadium. A single Rinus Benaars goal that took the Dutchmen through to the last eight undoubtedly made the trip worthwhile.
Feyenoord v Vasas Budapest
The quarter finals saw two sides issue statements of intent to the rest of the field. Despite going behind early on in Istanbul, goals from Mora, Barison and Jose Altafini gave Milan a 3-1 win over Galatasaray, and their progression to the semi-finals was confirmed with a 5-0 win in Italy which saw Altafini score another three.
Milan v Galatasaray
Meanwhile, the meeting between Anderlecht, and the prolific Dundee promised to be the tie of the round. Following their win against Real and second round success against CDNA Sofia, the Belgians were now considered one of the favourites for the trophy, but they were brushed aside by the Scots in the same way that Koln and Sporting Lisbon had been in the previous rounds. A first minute goal in Brussels from Alan Gilzean for Dundee set the tone for the tie and by the end of the first leg the Scots found themselves with an almost unassailable 4-1 first leg lead. With a 2-1 victory at Dens Park, Dundee completed a 6-2 aggregate score line that now forced the whole of Europe to take them seriously as realistic contenders. The other two quarter finals were much closer affairs with 2-1 aggregate wins being enough to see Feyenoord squeeze past Stade de Reims, and for Benfica to knock out Dukla Prague.
Anderlecht v Dundee
Following Benfica’s successful defence of the European Cup after their win over Real Madrid in Amsterdam, the architect of their double European triumph, Bela Gutmann, announced that he would be leaving to manage Penarol in Uruguay. In his place, Benfica appointed the Chilean Fernando Riera who had led his national team to third place in the 1962 World Cup. Riera had re-introduced a 4-2-4 system in place of Gutmann’s preferred ‘WM’ formation, but this had been met with disapproval from some of the clubs supporters as it resulted in a less attacking game as exemplified by the 0-0 draw that Benfica gained in their semi-final first leg away to Feyenoord. Before the return in Lisbon, two ships, the Groote Beer and the Waterman, arrived with thousands of Feyenoord supporters on board, determined to see the first Dutch side to reach a European Cup semi-final. Unfortunately for them, their side were no match for the reigning champions as they were beaten 3-1, thanks to goals from Eusebio, Jose Augusto and Santana.
Benfica v Feyenoord
In the second semi-final, Dundee and AC Milan were to fight it out for the right to take on the holders at Wembley Stadium. Under the management of Nereo Rocco, the Italians had a team of strong defenders and brilliant ballplayers. The lone survivor from the 1958 team that ran Real Madrid so close in the final was Cesare Maldini at centre half. He was now joined by the likes of the tough Mario David and the energetic Giovanni Trapattoni. Ahead of them was Gianni Rivera, the 19 year old wonder boy of Italian football who provided the supply for the Brazilian goal scorers Dino Sani and Jose Altafini. Dundee, on the other hand, had many fewer stars, but had been turned by manager Bob Shankly into a side capable of finishing ahead of Celtic and Rangers in the Scottish League and knocking out some of the biggest names in Europe. Much of this was down to the forward pairing of Alan Cousin and Alan Gilzean who had already scored eleven goals between them in six European games.
The crucial period of the semi-final turned out to be the second half in Milan. With the teams tied at 1-1 at half-time in the first leg thanks to an early Sani goal and an equaliser from Cousin, Milan hit the net four times after the interval, with Barison and Mora both scoring twice. Dundee had performed many heroics over the course of their European campaign, but a 5-1 deficit was always going to prove one mountain too high and, although they did get the consolation of a 1-0 win in the second leg, it was Milan who progressed through to the final.
Milan v Dundee
And so to the first ever European Cup Final to not involve a Spanish club as Benfica of Portugal took on Milan of Italy. Wembley Stadium was the host on a fine May evening on a night when an Italian teenager burst onto the European scene for the first time. Gianni Rivera had already made an impact during Milan’s run to the final, but on this, the biggest stage of all, he reinforced his talent and lived up to the hype that he had received in Italy. He was the creative heart of the side, particularly in his understanding with Altafini ahead of him, and this relationship would prove particularly fruitful when it most mattered.
When the final got underway, it was Rivera and his Milan team-mates who controlled the game with Maldini, David and Trappatoni frustrating the Portuguese forwards, but Altafini was wasteful in front of goal and failed to build on his sides possession. Eusebio was finding little joy in the Benfica attack, but on 19 minutes he got his chance. A pass from Trapattoni was intercepted by Torres in midfield and when Eusebio was played in, he pounced to send a low shot onto the corner of the net and give his side the lead. As Benfica retained their one goal advantage with the hour mark looming, a third consecutive victory for the Lisbon side looked very much on the cards, especially when Torres had a good chance to double their lead, but the opportunity was not taken, and the Golden Boy was about to make them pay. Rivera was now finding space in the middle of the pitch and was orchestrating the midfield. On 58 minutes he found Altafini who swivelled and scored from 18 yards to bring the two teams level, and then just ten minutes later he found Altafini again who, despite Benfica’s appeals for offside, kept his cool to slot home after Pereira had saved his first effort. In the end, Altafini’s thirteenth and fourteenth goals of the campaign – setting a new European Cup record - were enough to deny Benfica a hat-trick of victories, and to send the European Cup back to Italy for the first time. The Benfica players, meanwhile, were so dejected in defeat that they were already making their way back down the tunnel before they realised they had runners-up medals to collect.
Di Stefano and Eusebio had now been joined by Rivera as the players who had captured the minds of European football fans as they guided their teams to European Cup Final glory, but would Rivera and Milan be able to retain their crown as Real and Benfica had done before them? The giants of European football lay in wait, ready to find out.
1963 European Cup Final (London)
AC Milan 2 Benfica 1
AC Milan: Ghezzi, David, Maldini (capt), Benitez, Trebbi, Dino Sani, Trapattoni, Pivatelli, Altafini, Rivera, Mora
Scorer: Altafini 2
Benfica: Pereira, Cavem, Raul, Cruz, Humberto, Coluna (capt), Jose Augusto, Santana, Torres, Eusebio, Simoes
You can find details of all the results, dates and scorers on the RSSSF website here.