EUROPEAN CUP HISTORY.COM
Having come so close to reaching the 1996 Champions League final, Panathinaikos were expected to make a similar impact a year later, but they were surprisingly beaten in the qualifying round by the Norwegians Rosenborg. The first leg in Athens saw the Greeks score the only goal of the match, but Rosenborg hit back with a 3-0 win in the return to make it through to the group stage. Alongside them would be Rangers who qualified thanks to a remarkable 7-2 win away to Russian champions Alania Vladikavkaz.
Rosenborg v Panathinaikos - Alania v Rangers
In the group stage, Rosenborg caused one of the great upsets in European Cup history. Milan had stumbled through the group, losing in Gothenburg and at home to Porto, but they still required only a draw in their last game at home to the Norwegians to see them through to the quater-finals. But amazingly, goals from Brattbakk and Heggem gave Rosenborg a 2-1 win in the San Siro to send the Italian giants crashing out.
Milan v Rosenborg
The holders Juventus came through Group C with five wins and a draw. This included two wins over Manchester United, but United did become the first English side to emerge fron a Champions League group when a 2-0 win away to Rapid Vienna in their last game saw them qualify in second place.
Manchester United v Juventus/Rapid Vienna v Manchester United
Ajax had lost several of their top players since their appearance in the 1996 final, but they still finished above Grasshoppers and Rangers to qualify from Group A, although they had to be content with a runners-up place behind the French champions Auxerre who made an impressive start to their first Champions League campaign as they won four of their six games, including a 2-1 win away to Ajax, to finish top of the group. Group B saw Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund qualify comfortably with 13 points each ahead of Widzew Lodz and Steaua Bucharest.
Atletico Madrid v Borussia Dortmund/Borussia Dortmund v Steaua Bucharest
It may have been the first time that an English side had reached the last eight in over a decade, but Manchester Unitwed gave a vintage display as they comfortably disposed of Porto. A 4-0 win at Old Trafford in the first leg made the return game a mere formality and a goalless draw saw United through to the semi-finals. There they would meet Borussia Dortmund who knocked out Auxerre. A 3-1 win in Germany made Borussia favourites to progress, and when Lars Ricken scored the only goal in France, they were through 4-1 on aggregate. Having disposed of Milan, Rosenborg faced another Italian test as they were drawn against Juventus. The holders were also given a tough examination by the Norwegians. Rosenborg took the lead in their home leg and although Juve equalised soon afterwards the game finished 1-1. In Turin, Zidane scored in the first half, but it was not until the last minute that Amoruso converted a penalty to ensure that Juventus made it through to the last four.
The most exciting quarter-final was between Ajax and Atletico Madrid. The first game in Amsterdam was drawn 1-1, and the scoreline was the same after 90 minutes in Madrid and so the tie went to extra time. Dani put Ajax ahead in the first period, only for Panic to equalise five minutes later. But Ajax were ahead on away goals, and in the final minute Babangida scored to cement their place in the semi-finals.
Having disposed of Porto so impressively, Manchester United were widely fancied to make it through to the final, but a team with as many German internationals as Borussia Dortmund had was never going to be easily beaten.In Germany, Borussia were the stronger side and won 1-0 thanks to a deflected Tretschok goal. A 7th minute goal from Ricken at Old Trafford gave United a mountain to climb and although the English champions dominated the remainder of the game, the German defence held firm to reach their first ever Champions League Final.
The other semi-final was a repeat of the 1996 final, but this time it was much more one sided. Juventus outplayed Ajax in Amsterdam and were 2-0 ahead before half-time. Only a late Litmanen goal left Ajax with a small chance going into the second leg. But again, in Turin, a Zidane inspired Juventus were two goals ahead before half-time. Once m ore Ajax pulled a goal back, but on this occasion they conceded two more in the final moments of the game and Juventus were the victors with a resounding 6-2 aggregate win.
Juventus were overwhelming favourites to win the final. They were the holders and since their triumph a year earlier they had added the likes of Christian Vieri and Alen Boksic in attack and the brilliant Zinedine Zidane in midfield. But with the final being played in Munich, Borussia had the advantqage of playing in their home country. They also had several members of the German national team who were reigning European champions. Sammer, Kohler, Reuter, Moller and Riedle were all experienced in playing matches at the highest level, as was Paolo Sousa who had played for Juventus in the previous Champions League Final.
Juventus may have been on top in the games early stages, but they were stunned when two corners resulted in two goals for Karl-Heinz Riedle to give Borussia a shock two goal lead. The Italians then attacked incessantly, hitting the bar, hitting the post, and having a goal disallowed. Finally on 64 minutes, Del Piero flicked a cross home to give Juventus hope, but just a few minutes later Borussia broke away and substitute Lars Ricken brilliantly chipped the goalkeeper from 35 yards to make it 3-1. That was how the scoreline remained and so Borussia Dortmund became European champions for the first time.
1997 European Cup Final (Munich)
Borussia Dortmund 3 Juventus 1
Borussia Dortmund: Klos, Kohler, Sammer, Kree, Reuter, Lambert, Sousa, Heinrich, Moller (Zorc), Chapuisat (Ricken), Riedle (Herrlich)
Scorers: Riedle (2), Ricken
Juventus: Peruzzi, Porrini (Del Piero), Ferrara, Montero, Juliano, Di Livio, Deschamps, Jugovic, Zidane, Vieri (Amoruso), Boksic
Scorer: Del Piero
You can find details of all the results on the RSSSF website here.