Hampden Park, Glasgow
May 5, 1966
Borussia Dortmund – 2 (Held, Libuda)
Liverpool – 1 (Hunt)
Borussia Dortmund will face Bayern Munich in a bid to clinch their second Champions League title in a few days. They last became champions of Europe in 1997 but three decades before that, Dortmund created a unique piece of history. In 1966, a largely underappreciated Borussia side scraped past Bill Shankly’s Liverpool in Hampden Park to become the first German club to win a trophy on continental level. Behind the glitz and glamour of Bayern Munich of 1970s or Ottmar Hitzfeld’s teams in 1990s, the class of Borussia Dortmund of 1966 has remained largely forgotten and obscure.
Early 1960s was a period of success for the club from Westphalia as they achieved podium finish in the league multiple times, winning it once in 1962/63 season. They also reached final of German cup twice, winning their first Cup in 1964/65 season after a 2-0 win over Alemannia Aachen and thus qualifying for UEFA Cup Winners Cup. Die Schwarzgelben began the Cup Winners Cup campaign with a 13-1 aggregate win over Maltese minnows Floriana. A handsome home win against CSKA Cherveno Zname ensured safe passage to quarter-final where they squeezed past Atletico Madrid, former winners, with a 2-1 aggregate score. After Atletico, they picked up another highly prized scalp in semi-final by knocking out defending champions West Ham United. Lothar Emmerich was in unstoppable form in semi-final as he scored braces in both legs, including two in between 84th and 86th minutes in Upton Park, helping his team to a commanding 5-2 aggregate victory.
Like Borussia, Bill Shankly’s Liverpool also qualified for Cup Winners’ Cup by winning their first ever domestic Cup after a famous FA Cup final against Don Revie’s Leeds United which saw three goals scored in extra-time. Liverpool overcame a 1-0 away loss to get past Juventus in first round before knocking out Standard Liège and Budapest Honvéd FC in following two rounds with relative ease. Jock Stein’s Celtic, who would become European Champions a year later, awaited the Reds in semi-final. Celtic edged the first leg in a keenly contested match and looked set for the final as the score remained 0-0 at the hour mark in Anfield. However, goals from Tommy Smith and Geoff Strong in a six minute gap of each other ensured that Bill Shankly reached Cup Winners Cup final at first attempt.
The final in Glasgow was beset with heavy rains which saw spectators stay away as a paltry crowd of less than 42,000 turned up.
Borussia Dortmund: Hans Tilkowski; Gerhard Cyliax, Wolfgang Paul, Theodor Redder; Dieter Kurrat, Rudi Assauer; Stan Libuda, Aki Schmidt, Siegfried Held, Wilhelm Sturm, Lothar Emmerich
Liverpool: Tommy Lawrence; Chris Lawler, Ron Yeats, Gerry Byrne; Gordon Milne, Willie Stevenson; Ian Callaghan, Roger Hunt, Ian St. John, Tommy Smith, Peter Thompson
The conditions in the ground were extremely challenging due to heavy downpour. The speed as well as accuracy of the ball was extremely erratic and the players also had some trouble keeping a proper footing. Despite all this, the first chance of the match came extremely fast for a final. After one and a half minute, a cross from Ian Callaghan found Ian St John who headed it across the goal before Tikowski parried it away. A melee resulted from the corner as St John tried a half volley which hit a Dortmund defender before it was cleared off the line by Paul. Ten minutes later Borussia Dortmund center forward peeled past Stevenson before beating Lawler with pace and getting into Liverpool box. However, his final shot was poor and went well wide. A minute after the quarter-hour mark Liverpool had another chance. Milne moved through the central midfield and found Hunt with a short diagonal pass. Hunt tried a delicate chip from edge of the box which dipped just enough but was pushed away at the last moment by the Dortmund ‘keeper.
Few minutes later Aki Schmidt trapped the ball after a free-kick was chested down by Held before curving in a beautiful shot with the outside of his right boot. Tommy Lawrence’s position was perfect and he had little trouble plucking out Schmidt’s shot. Mid-way into first half Theodor Redder almost scored an own goal when his headed clearance off a Thomson cross flew dangerously over his own ‘keeper. Few minutes before the half ended Borussia had their best chance of the first period. A long ball from deep defence was headed towards Held, who had run past Liverpool defence, by Schmidt. Held moved into the Liverpool box unchallenged before unleashing a strong diagonal shot from the left side. Lawrence saved it but was unable to keep a hold on the ball. Held was following in to take another shot but Lawler made a last ditch slide tackle to ensure that the ball went out. Liverpool were clearly the more dominant side but Borussia Dortmund had also shown glimpses of troubling their opponents.
Just like the first half, the first chance of second half also fell for the Reds as Stevenson headed straight towards Tikowski from a swinging Callaghan corner. On the hour mark Borussia Dortmund took lead after an almost perfect counter attack which was finished in just four passes. Milne lost possession to Kurrat whose long pass found Held inside Liverpool’s half. Held passed to Emmerich, who was hogging the touchline on left side. Instantly after making the pass, Held saw a gap in Liverpool central defence and ran into the gap to intercept a perfect lofted pass from Emmerich. With three Liverpool defenders closing in, Held’s perfect volley from just outside the box gave no chance to Lawrence.
Stung by a goal against the run of play, Liverpool poured forward for the equalizer and captain Ron Yeats headed over from a corner by Callaghan. On 68th minute Hunt levelled the score-line but most of the credit was due for Peter Thompson. Receiving Milne’s pass near the right touchline, Thompson dribbled past Libuda, jostled out of Redder’s way before leaping over Sturm’s slide tackle. He pulled back his pass which bounced into the Dortmund box towards Hunt who bulged the roof of Tikowski’s net. Following Liverpool’s goal there was a mini-invasion by their fans as the game was held up for a couple of minutes. There was also suspicion that Thompson had crossed the touchline before centering the ball but it was difficult have conclusive proof regarding this as markings were blurred by rain.
On 74th minute Tommy Smith tried his luck from 25 yards out by Tikowski made a smart save. Four minutes later a slip from Lawler allowed Held to pass towards Emmerich, who took a shot on the run, only to drag it well wide. Minutes later St. John turned the provider as a cross from him flew into the Borussia Dortmund box from the left-side but was harmlessly headed wide by Milne. Final action of regulation time almost ended in a Liverpool goal as Hunt took advantage of some iffy defending from Dortmund to drill in a low shot which was saved by Tikowski. For the first time, a Cup Winners’ Cup final went into extra-time.
In 4th minute of extra-time Ian Callaghan one again found St. John in the Dortmund box but the Scottish striker’s header lacked power. Liverpool had two more chances in first half of extra-time but Smith’s shot was hit straight at the ‘keeper while St. John’s attempt went well wide.
The most famous moment of this final came two minutes into second half of extra time. A long ball from Schmidt released Held who found ample space between two Liverpool defenders. Lawrence had to come off his line and he successfully cleared as the ball went towards Reinhart Libuda, who was 35 yards out near the right touchline. Libuda tried the incredible and lobbed in far out. His lob went over a retreating Lawrence, hit the post, then Yeats and went into the goal.
Liverpool players never really recovered from that bizarre goal, as Borussia Dortmund defence saw out rest of match without notable events to create history. Ironically, Liverpool had created better chances in the match but were undone by good saves from Tikowski and some poor finishing. A decidedly distraught Shankly had this to say post match, “We were beaten by a team of frightened men. It was obviously their plan from the start simply to keep us in subjection. They had no real attacking plan but they won and I am quite sincere when I say they are the worst team we met in the competition this season.”
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In November, 1964 Liverpool had qualified for their first ever European Cup and were about to face an Anderlecht side filled with players from Belgian national team which had drawn 3-3 with England few days before. Suspecting that his players might be out of their depth a bit against European opponents Bill Shankly took a clever ploy which was to redefine Tommy Smith’s career. Smith, even though he was a defender, was handed the #10 jersey, usually worn by inside forwards. In the pre-Total football era player positions were more or less determined by their shirt numbers. Shankly’s ploy worked and Anderlecht right-back spent considerable amount of time trying to mark Smith, who, obviously, had dropped back to his usual defensive position. Anderlecht’s defence lost its shape as a result and Liverpool ran out comfortable 3-0 victors. In this final, though, this tactic backfired on Liverpool. St. John and right inside forward Hunt were both fairly static during the match and lack of a proper inside forward on the left side, even though left-half Stevenson occasionally moved upfield to hold that position, meant that Liverpool failed to make their wing-movement count. Both of the outside forwards, especially Callaghan had excellent games but absence of inside forwards, coupled with Borussia Dortmund packing players around the box meant that their crosses mostly went unattended.
Borussia Dortmund were clear in their approach to this final. They would sit back and try to hit back Liverpool on counters. Liverpool enjoyed lion’s share of the possession in this match and as the minutes progressed became braver as their defenders began to push up. Dortmund, on the other hand dropped their center-halves deeper, creating two banks of defensive back three with two of their front five pressing Liverpool full-backs. Three Dortmund players focused on offence – Libuda, Emmerich and Held. Libuda usually moved towards the touchline with an outside dodge after receiving possession and tried to drag out Byrne or Yeats out of their respective positions. As Liverpool defence pushed up in second half Smith moved deeper into opponent half, filling in for Stevenson. This created gaps in Liverpool defence as Yeats was left to deal with Emmerich and Held on his own. Held made perfect use of this lapse and it was his movement into the blank space between Liverpool full-backs and Yeats that was responsible for both Dortmund goals.
Man of the Match
Siegfried Held (Borussia Dortmund)
The first Borussia Dortmund player to born outside of West Germany, Siegfried Held eventually played over 200 games for the club in his nine year stay, divided in two separate stints. At his peak, Held formed a memorable trident along with Emmerich and Libuda. In the final, the impact of these three was all too apparent as they were involved in both the goals. In Dortmund’s counter attacking style, Held’s movement against Yeats was crucial. His team-mates tried to find him with aerial balls while he moved into the space between Liverpool full-backs. Held worked hard under difficult conditions and made good use to the scant delivery that came his way. Libuda’s bizarre long ranger might have grabbed headline eventually but Held also hit his goal extremely well.
The win in Hampden Park would eventually prove to the zenith of Dortmund’s golden era and a steady downslide would begin after the European triumph. With Lothar Emmerich in prime form Borussia looked cruising towards the league title that season but they would implode in the business end, finishing third in the end. Between 1962 and 1967 Dortmund finished in top-4 every single season but by 1968 they had dropped as low as 14th in the table and a season later, fighting off relegation. In 1970s, they would play second fiddle to the brilliant teams from Bayern Munich and Borussia Monchengladbach. The ignominy of relegation came in 1971/72 season when they went down after conceding a massive 83 goals in 34 matches. Borussia Dortmund came back to the top flight soon after that but their fans had to wait for two decades before the club found success again.
For Liverpool, on the other hand, this was just a beginning. Five days before the final in Glasgow, the Red clinched their second league title of the decade after a 2-1 win over Chelsea. Slowly but steadily they would take control of the domestic scenario in 1970s before exploding on the European stage in late 1970s and winning European titles with a frequency not seen before or since from an English club. Along with Bob Paisley, Bill Shankly would go on to establish one of the most successful dynasties in the history of football.