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1988 European Cup Final (Stuttgart)

PSV Eindhoven 0 Benfica 0 (6-5 on penalties)
PSV Eindhoven: Van Breukelen, Gerets (capt), Nielsen, Koeman, Heintze, Van Aerie, Vanenburg, Linskens, Lerby , Kieft, Gillhaus (Janssen)
(Penalty Scorers: Koeman, Kieft, Nielsen, Vanenburg, Lerby, Janssen
Benfica: Silvino, Veloso, Mozer, Dito, Alvaro, Elzo, Pacheco, Sheu (capt), Chiquinho, Magnus son (Hajiri), Rui Aguas (Vando)
(Penalty Scorers: Elzo, Dito, Hajiri, Pacheco, Mozer)

The draw for the first round of the 1988 European Cup pitted the champions of Spain and Italy together. Real Madrid, who had come so close to reaching the final a year earlier were drawn to play Napoli who had been energised by the brilliance of Diego Maradona and had won the Italian Championship. Due to the crowd trouble at the Bernabeu in the previous semi-final, the first leg was played behind closed doors in Madrid. The eerie atmosphere did not affect Real too badly however as a Michel penalty and a De Napoli own goal gave them a 2-0 lead to take to Italy. Napoli started the second leg well with a goal within the first ten minutes, but Butragueno’s equaliser on the stroke of half-time effectively ended the contest and Real went through 3-1 on aggregate.

Elsewhere holders Porto progressed comfortably with two 3-0 wins over Vardar Skopje, while the other Portuguese side in the competition Benfica won their first leg 4-0 against a Partizan Tirana side who had four men sent off and were subsequently thrown out of the competition. There were easy wins for Sparta Prague (10-0 winners over Fram Reykjavik) and Bayern Munich (5-0 against CSKA Sofia). Anderlecht had more difficulty as they squeezed past Malmo by the odd goal in three, while PSV Eindhoven who beat Galatasaray by an impressive 3-0 scoreline in Holland, were left hanging on in Turkey after they conceded two first half goals in the return match. In the end they survived and went through 3-2 on aggregate. Similarly Steaua Bucharest won 4-0 at home to MTK Budapest, but conceded two first half goals in Hungary. They also held on to progress. One big name to go out at the first hurdle, however, was Dynamo Kiev who beat Rangers 1-0 at home, but seemed unnerved by the Scottish sides tactic of making their pitch narrower for the second game and were beaten 2-0 in Glasgow.

If Real Madrid were looking forward to an easier draw in the second round they were to be sorely disappointed as this time they were drawn to play reigning champions Porto. After the first game in Valencia the tie was still very much in the balance as Madjers goal for Porto after an hour was cancelled out by goals from Sanchez and Sanchis in the final ten minutes. In Portugal, Antonio Sousa scored from a free kick to level the overall score at 2-2 with Porto ahead on away goals, but two goals from Michel in the second half, both set up by winger Solana who had come on as substitute at half-time, sent the holders out and confirmed Real’s status as favourites to win the cup.

The team that Porto had defeated in the 1987 final came very close to going out at the same stage. Trailing 2-1 from the first leg in Switzerland to Neuchatel Xamax, Bayern Munich were unable to find a way past the Swiss defence in the second leg until the 87th minute when Pfugler levelled the scores. To make matters worse for Xamax, Wegmann scored Bayern’s winner in the last minute.

Real and Bayern met in the quarter-finals - a repeat of their semi-final meeting a year earlier. Bayern appeared to be on the verge of a similar score to the 4-1 that they had achieved in their last home game with Real when they took a 3-0 lead thanks to three goals between the 40th and 50th minute. With only a few minutes remaining, Real looked to be heading towards another defeat at the hands of the German champions. But Real were rescued by two goals in the final six minutes. First Butragueno seized upon a lapse in the German defence to pull a goal back, and then a Sanchez goal brought them right back into the tie. Security was at its most stringent for the return match as the authorities feared a repeat of the scenes that had occurred when the same two teams had last met in the Bernabeu. This time it was a much happier occasion for the home fans as first half goals from Jankovic and Michel took them through to the last four.

The other three quarter-finals saw teams who had established a first leg advantage hold on to progress through. Benfica scored two early goals at home to Anderlecht and they proved decisive as they eventually won 2-1 overall. PSV Eindhoven drew 1-1 in Bordeaux and a goalless draw at home was sufficient for them to win on away goals. Meanwhile Steaua beat Rangers 2-0 in Bucharest and an early Lacatus goal in Glasgow meant that even after Rangers came back with two goals, it was the Romanians who reached another semi-final.

In the semi-finals, Real Madrid took an early lead in the Bernabeu against PSV through a Sanchez penalty, but the Dutch midfielder Edward Linskens equalised on 19 minutes and PSV managed to hold on for an invaluable 1-1 draw. Back in Holland, goalkeeper Hans Van Breukelen was in outstanding form as he kept the Real attack at bay and helped PSV survive 90 goalless minutes which took them through to their first European Cup Final on away goals. The other semi-final saw Benfica follow a 0-0 draw away to Steaua with a 2-0 win at home thanks to a pair of first half goals from the head of Rui Aguas. And so, for the second year running there was a Portuguese side in the final.

PSV had in their team two men who would make a major contribution to the Dutch national side that would go on to win the European Championship in the summer of 1988. Goalkeeper Hans Van Breukelen had already played a big part in getting PSV to the final and he would go on to make a huge contribution for both club and country in what would prove to be a memorable few months for both. Ahead of him was Ronald Koeman who combined first class defending with a lethal shot from anywhere around the opposing penalty area. In midfield they had the Scandinavian talents of Soren Lerby and Frank Arnesen, while in attack was the powerful and free scoring Wim Kieft. Their opponents Benfica were hit before the final by an injury to their winger and captain Diamantino. In his absence they looked for strength at the back to the Brazilian Jose Mozer, and for inspiration in attack to Rui Aguas (son of the European Cup winning captain of 1961) and the Swede Mats Magnusson.

The final in Stuttgart .Benfica played in a negative style with eleven men behind the ball for the majority of the game. PSV had most of the possession, but they were unwilling to commit too many men forward and the game lapsed into sterility. The only shot on goal during the first half came in the 37th minute when a Vanenburg shot was saved by Silvino in the Benfica goal. As the game passed the hour mark, PSV finally started to put some pressure on the Benfica goal and Silvino was called upon to make more saves. The best chance of the game fell to PSV defender Ivan Nielsen when the ball came to him just six yards out from an open goal, but he could only put his shot wide and so the stalemate continued. Ninety minutes was completed without any score, and thirty minutes of extra-time produced little goalmouth action, and so a goalless European Cup Final went to penalties for the second time in four years.

Whereas the penalty shootout in the final of 1986 had been notable for the number of misses, this time both teams scored all five of their initial attempts. Koeman, Kieft, Nielsen, Vanenburg and Lerby all scored for PSV, and Elzo, Dito, Hajiri, Pacheco and Mozer were successful for Benfica. The shootout then became a sudden death affair. First Janssen who had come on as substitute for Gillhaus put PSV 6-5 ahead. Full back Veloso then stepped up for Benfica and put his kick to Van Breukelens right, but this time the goalkeeper had guessed the right way and he dived low to save the kick and win the European Cup for PSV Eindhoven.

The PSV team that won the 1988 European Cup will not go down as one of the greatest in the history of the competition. Having won only three of their nine games and scored only twice in their final five games, they were never going to be seen in the same light as some of the great attacking teams that had won the competition before or after them, but manager Guus Hiddink had forged a team together around such top players as Van Breukelen, Koeman, Lerby and Kieft and produced a side that could match and beat any side in Europe at that time. PSV Eindhoven had become the third Dutch side to bring home the European Cup and they had provided the beginning of what would prove to be a momentous summer for Dutch football. 1988 was indeed the year of Holland and PSV.


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