EUROPEAN CUP HISTORY.COM
Inter’s victory meant that they were automatically entered into the following season’s competition alongside the Italian champions. 1964 had seen a rare post-war championship win for Bologna, having beaten Inter in a play-off, and so they took their place in the European Cup for the first and, so far, only time. Unfortunately for them, their first appearance was cut short in the cruellest of circumstances. Having been held 2-2 on aggregate by Anderlecht, Bologna and the Belgian champions played a deciding match in Barcelona. With neither team able to conjure up a goal, the tie was decided by the toss of a coin and it was Anderlecht who progressed through, ending Bologna’s debut in the competition. Bologna were not the only team to go out in this manner, the Poles of Gornik Zabrze met a similarly unlucky fate after they had been held by Dukla Prague, and that would not be the last tie to be decided in such an arbitrary way during the 1964/65 season.
The main contenders started the tournament with a flurry of goals. Liverpool, making the first of many appearances, put eleven past KR Reykjavik; Benfica scored ten against Aris Bonnevoie of Luxembourg and then six against the Swiss side La Chaux-de-Fons; Real Madrid beat the Danes of Odense 9-2; and the holders Inter, following a first round bye, cruised past Dinamo Bucharest 7-0. But the big names were all overshadowed by Nikola Kotkov. Playing for Bulgarian side Lokomotiv Sofia, Kotkov followed two goals in the first ten minutes by scoring on 28, 47 and 59 minutes. His incredible five goals in less than an hour helped his side to an 8-3 first leg win over Malmo which virtually ensured their passage into round two. Tragically, Kotkov was to be killed in a car crash just seven years later. Elsewhere in the second round, the two sides who had squeaked through the first round on the toss of a coin were dismissed with ease: Dukla Prague beaten 6-2 by Real Madrid, and Anderlecht defeated by four goals to nil by Liverpool.
The big match of the quarter-finals was between two former European champions as Benfica were drawn against Real Madrid. Real were seeking revenge for their 1962 Final defeat, as well as being out to prove that they were not the spent force that many critics had accused them of being after their comprehensive beating at the hands of Inter back in the previous May. It was soon clear, however, that they were to be disappointed yet again. By the time the half time whistle was blown at the first leg in Lisbon, Benfica were already three goals ahead thanks to Jose Augusto’s tenth minute strike and a further double from Eusebio. Amancio did give the Spaniards some hope with a goal just before the hour, but Simoes and Coluna both went on to score for the home side and give them a 5-1 lead that not even Real Madrid were likely to recover from. Real did win the second game 2-1, but they had been well beaten over the course of the tie and, with the great Di Stefano now having left for Espanyol, their glory days now seemed to be some way behind them.
As expected, Benfica were joined in the last four by Internazionale, although the holders met with stiff resistance from Glasgow Rangers before overcoming them 3-2 on aggregate. Less expected semi-finalists were Vasas Budapest who, having previously knocked out Nikola Kotkov and Lokomotiv Sofia, eliminated DWS Amsterdam courtesy of a late Povazsai winner. The real drama, however, came in the remaining quarter-final tie between Liverpool and the Germans of Cologne. Following the merging of the old German regional championships, Cologne were the first winners of the new Bundesliga and had reached this stage with wins over Partizan Tirana and Panathinaikos. The first leg in Germany saw the hosts bombard the Liverpool goal, but despite hitting a post and having a goal disallowed for offside, they were unable to break through and the score sheet remained blank. The second leg looked set to be a classic European Cup encounter, but a violent snowstorm led to the game being called off just as the teams were about to take to the field. The thousands that were packed into Anfield did not want to leave until they had their voucher for the rearranged match, thus causing chaos at the turnstiles which resulted in the last spectators not leaving the ground until after 1 o’clock in the morning. During the long wait to get out of the ground, many of the spectators held snowball fights and ice skating competitions on the pitch to while away the hours.
Two weeks later, the game did go ahead, but despite intense Liverpool pressure, there were again no goals, forcing the two teams to play again in Rotterdam the following week. In the replay, Cologne found themselves roared on by an overwhelmingly German crowd, but it was Liverpool who soon took control of the game. Goals from Ian St John on 20 minutes and a Roger Hunt header which hit the bar and then came down over the goal line on 37 minutes gave the English side a 2-0 lead. But there was still more drama to come. Just before Liverpool’s opening goal, the Cologne midfielder Wolfgang Weber had broken his shinbone, but he bravely soldiered on as Cologne struck back. The Germans replied almost immediately with a Thielen header from a free kick. Then, just after half time, Muller smashed home a long range shot to even things up again. The rest of normal time, as well as thirty minutes of extra time failed to produce a winning goal, and so the tie had to be decided by the lottery of the toss of a coin.
Referee Robert Schaut called both captains to the centre circle where he showed them his disc, coloured Liverpool red on one side and Cologne white on the other. On the first toss, the disc landed sideways in the mud, but on the second attempt, the sight of Liverpool captain Ron Yeats leaping in the air left no one inside the stadium or watching on television, in any doubt that it was Liverpool who would be taking their place in the semi-finals.
Liverpool v Cologne
In order to become the first British side to reach the European Cup final, however, Liverpool would have to get past Inter, the reigning European champions. The build up to the semi-final was not in Liverpool’s favour. On May 1st they went to Wembley where they won the F.A.Cup for the first time, beating Leeds United 2-1 after extra time in the final. On May 2nd the team paraded their newly won trophy through the streets of Liverpool on an open topped bus. Two days later on May 4th they took the field at Anfield against Internazionale. It was certainly not the perfect build up, but despite this, Liverpool rose to the occasion with a thrilling 3-1 win which gave them every chance of reaching the final. It could, however, have been an even healthier lead. With five minutes of the first half remaining and with the score at 2-1, Lawler went on a mazy run that left three Italian defenders trailing in his wake before he struck a searing left foot shot that fizzed past goalkeeper Sarti and into the top corner of the net. The crowd roared wildly as they celebrated a 3-1 lead, but they were soon silenced by the referee who disallowed the goal due to Hunt being in an offside position. Moments later Hunt found himself clean through on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat, but his shot hit Sarti on the knee and the Liverpool forward could only hold his head in despair. But Liverpool were well worth their 3-1 win, as Herrera admitted to his Liverpool counterpart after the game: ’We have been beaten before, but never defeated. Tonight we were defeated.’
Liverpool v Internazionale
Inspirational manager Bill Shankly had transformed Liverpool from being a side languishing in the second division into a club that challenged for and won League Championships and F.A.Cups on a regular basis. Shankly had put together a team containing the likes of Ian St John, Roger Hunt, Ian Callaghan, Peter Thompson and Ronnie Yeats that would reinvigorate the club and would win the league championship in 1964 and 1966 before going on to further glories. Had it not been for fatigue and some controversial refereeing decisions, they might even have become the first British side to win the ultimate prize. European glory, however, would have to wait for it was Inter that would make their way to the final. Inter clawed back one goal from the first leg when, having been awarded an indirect free-kick that was hotly disputed by their opponents, Corso curled the ball inside Lawrence’s left post and the goal was allowed by Spanish referee Ortiz de Mendibil. Even more controversy was to ensue, however, just ten minutes into the second game at the San Siro. As the ball ran to the right hand of the Liverpool penalty area, the goalkeeper Lawrence reached it just before the Inter forward Peiro, sending the Italian falling to the ground as they collided. As Lawrence bounced the ball, surveying the field ahead of him, Peiro got back to his feet and, coming from behind the goalkeeper, flicked the ball from his hands and rolled it into the net. The Liverpool players chased after and surrounded the referee as they vehemently protested his decision to allow the goal to stand, but to no avail. Seventeen minutes into the second half, Inter took the lead overall with a beautifully created goal which saw Corso thread the ball through to Facchetti who raced into the penalty area to send a shot crashing past Lawrence and into the net. Internazionale were through, while Liverpool would have to wait a few more years before they tasted European Cup glory.
Internazionale v Liverpool
The other semi-final had little of the drama produced by Liverpool and Inter. Vasas Budapest were beaten by Benfica in their home leg by a single Jose Augusto goal, and were dismissed by four first half goals to nil in Lisbon with Eusebio and Torres grabbing a pair of goals each. Benfica thus had the chance to avenge their 1963 final defeat against AC Milan by taking on Milan rivals Inter at the same stage, but they would have to do it the hard way as the final was due to take place at the Milan clubs shared home of the San Siro.
Before the final, Herrera spoke confidently of his teams chances: ‘We are now more conscious of our strength. Last year we were not so sure of ourselves. Now, with so much in our favour we know we can win well and win attractively. We hope to lead Europe for many many years.’ With eight of the side that had so brilliantly defeated the great Real Madrid just three years earlier still in their line-up, however, Benfica had enough experience to know that they had every chance of spoiling the San Siro party.
Playing the mighty Internazionale in front of 89,000 of their fanatical supporters in a wet San Siro stadium, however, was to prove too much, even for a team as good as Benfica. The Portugese club had complained to UEFA beforehand at having to play Inter on their own pitch and had even threatened to send their youth team, but UEFA were never going to change the venue. Despite an inspirational performance from their captain Coluna in midfield, Benfica were undone by a single goal from Jair just before half-time when his tame shot slipped through the arms of Costa Pereira. Only one team had managed to score a European Cup goal against Inter at the San Siro that season, and that had come for Rangers when they were already three goals behind, so a solitary goal was always likely to be enough for the holders on their home ground. As expected, the door bolt was fixed firmly in place throughout the second half and, with Benfica further hampered by injury to their goalkeeper Costa Pereira which saw Germano having to take over in goal, the game petered out with the familiar score line of 1-0 to Inter. The European Cup stayed in Milan for another year and it looked as though it would take something remarkable to prise it away. Catenaccio now ruled Europe and, despite what the football world may have said about its ugliness and negativity, it was proving impossible to overcome, with Inter now holding the championships of both Europe and Italy. For many it was as though a dark cloud was hanging over the continent, but for those in and around Internazionale this was a glorious era that had no end in sight. Now they were out to collect a hat-trick of European titles, and there was no reason to think that Herrera and catenaccio would fail in their quest.
1965 European Cup Final (Milan)
Internazionale 1 Benfica 0
Internazionale: Sarti, Burgnich, Guameri, Picchi (capt.), Facchetti, Bedin, Suarez, Corso, Jair, Mazzola, Peiro
Benfica: Costa Pereira, Cavem, Germano, Raul, Cruz, Neto, Coluna (capt.), Jose Augusto, Torres, Eusebio, Simoes
1964/65 European Cup Highlights (in Italian)
You can find details of all the results, dates and scorers on the RSSSF website here.