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Real Madrid 4-3 Stade Reims (1956)
The first in the flagship event is duly very unforgettable. The first European Cup final was instantly a classic, a nip and tuck affair between the Galacticos 1.0 and the dominant French side Stade de Reims, who had beaten the mighty Hibs in the semi-final. Reims stormed into a two-goal lead after less than ten minutes, before Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano scored five minutes later, and the Spaniards were level by half-time after Hector Rial scored a header from a corner. Kopa got his second assist when providing for Michel Hidalgo to give the French champions a 3-2 lead, but Real’s pressure eventually told running out winners. Rather fittingly the most successful side in the competition would win the first instalment as the competition entered a brave new world.
AC Milan 4-0 Barcelona (1994)
FLASHBACK: #OnThisDay in 1994 one of the great @90sfootball performances by one of the greatest teams ever. Milan destroy Barcelona 4-0 to win the Champions League. Massaro (2), Savicevic and Desailly score on a fabled night in Athens.pic.twitter.com/UJJpZBnt4f
— Proper Football (@sid_lambert) May 18, 2018
It is crazy to think, but when these two squared up, Milan were the underdogs going into the ’94 final. Barcelona was the ‘Dream Team’, playing some of the best attacking football Europe had ever seen under the great Johan Cruyff. The Rossoneri were given no hope. Although crowned as Italian champions, Fabio Capello’s side had failed to win any of their last six league games and had star defender Franco Baresi missing through suspension. Add to that the lack of Marco van Basten through injury and you soon realise why the world expected Romario, Pep Guardiola and co to waltz to victory.
What followed was an hour of total Milan dominance, sealing a 4-0 victory with 30 minutes still remaining. A depleted Milan side that had won Serie A by scoring just 36 goals in 34 games had obliterated the Dream Team. It may not have been one of the prettiest finals, but it sure came as a shock to many watching.
Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich (1999)
‘Late in May in 1999’- a look back at Manchester United’s Champions League campaign which ended in dramatic victory at the Nou Camp | @RobPotter3010 #MUFC https://t.co/TvgobgsBQd pic.twitter.com/1F6NjCMtyF
— ⚽️ MUFCLatest.com ⚽️ (@MUFCLatestcom) May 20, 2018
A game included for the final three minutes rather than the previous 90, this was the ultimate in footballing muggings. A sweep of the foot from the sprightly Teddy Sheringham and a stabbed finish from the baby-faced assassin Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was enough to make every Manchester United fan wish that they could grow old immediately, merely for the opportunity to tell the grandchildren those three little words: “I was there”. Bayern had led for 84 minutes and United for just a matter of seconds. By getting their hands on ‘big ears’ Manchester United completed a unique treble.
Porto 3-0 Monaco (2004)
The match that showcased a manager more than the players. Porto’s trashing of a weak Monaco side created Jose Mourinho’s legend, a legacy far more memorable than the game itself, which was tediously one-sided. Yes, in reality, it may not have been the most classic, but it defiantly was unforgettable in the sense that it launched ‘the Special One’ into the stratosphere. A well-drilled and supremely organised Porto were far too slick for the French side, winning with goals from Carlos Alberto, the man of the match Deco and Dmitri Alenichev. Mourinho declined to celebrate and removed his winner’s medal immediately after it was handed to him, knowing he was soon to depart for Chelsea.
AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (2005)
The greatest of all sporting finals? A final so thrilling its venue has become a byword for unlikely comebacks. Yet the original ‘Istanbul’ will always be the best, a mind-bending reminder of football’s capacity to surprise. Three goals down to Paolo Maldini’s first-minute strike and a brace from Hernan Crespo. Liverpool was all but beaten and in serious danger of humiliation. But then came the Miracle. Upstep captain fantastic Steven Gerrard, who scored a wonderful header, giving the Premier League side hope. Then Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso hauled them level by the hour-mark. Jerzy Dudek kept Liverpool in the tie with a stunning double save from Andriy Shevchenko and the Pole then produced heroics in the penalty shoot-out: his ‘spaghetti legs’ did for Serginho, who blazed over the bar, before saving from Andrea Pirlo and Shevchenko. European football was left open-mouthed. Liverpool fans left with wide grins.
BY - George Tipper
23 May 2018