The moment Fernando Torres rounded the goalkeeper and completed Chelsea’s unlikely path to Munich, all eyes in West London were firmly fixed on the big day. Forget the issues over home advantage, forget the suspensions and injury concerns and forget the fact Chelsea only came sixth in the table, this will be the biggest night of Roberto Di Matteo and his side’s lives. Hopefully the game can live up to the billing and just to remind you what a treat you’re in for, here are 10 of the best Champions League Finals:
10. Barcelona 3 Manchester United 1, 2011
Think back to last year, when Manchester United dreamt of winning the trophy on home soil against a side widely regarded as one of the greatest ever. The odds were stacked firmly against them and the first half showed why, as Pep Guardiola’s men enjoyed 67% of the possession. Pedro gave them a 27th minute lead, but Wayne Rooney’s equaliser gave United a glimmer of hope. It wasn’t to be though, as second half goals from Lionel Messi and David Villa secured Barcelona’s fourth Champions League title.
9. Borussia Dortmund 3 Juventus 1, 1997
Little fancied Dortmund had the opportunity to prevent Juventus sealing a second successive title in a row on home territory in Munich and after their semi-final win over Manchester United, nobody could rule it out. Sure enough, Karl-Heinz Riedle scored twice in the first half to give the Bundesliga boys the lead and despite Alessandro Del Piero pulling one back in the second half, local Dortmund lad Lars Ricken fired home in the 71st minute, just 16 seconds after coming on a substitute. The result was a surprise as Juve were a side packed with talent, including French superstar Zinedine Zidane. However, Zidane barely featured in the final thanks to the close attentions of a certain Paul Lambert, now in the dugout at Norwich City.
8. AC Milan 4 Barcelona 0, 1994
With Milan missing some key players through injury and suspension including Dutch legend Marco Van Basten, Barcelona went into the final in Athens as firm favourites. However, the Italian outfit produced one of the greatest ever displays by a side in a final, destroying their Spanish opponents on the night. Two goals from Daniele Massaro set them on their way, before Dejan Savicevic and Marcel Desailly sealed the triumph with second half goals. The Milan coach that night? None other than Fabio Capello.
7. Manchester United 1 Chelsea 1 (United won 6-5 on penalties), 2008
United and Chelsea met in the first all-English final in Moscow having battled each other all year for the Premier League title, a battle that the Reds came out on top. Inevitably, Cristiano Ronaldo was the man to open the scoring, nodding past Petr Cech after 26 minutes. However, on the stroke of half-time, Frank Lampard snatched an equaliser and that’s the way it remained for the rest of the game. Didier Drogba got himself sent off for slapping Nemanja Vidic though and the Blues went into the shootout minus their best striker. However Ronaldo’s miss left Chelsea captain John Terry needing to score to give his side their first European Cup win. The rest, as they say, is history. Terry slipped, sending the ball cannoning into the post and after a couple of successful penalties, Edwin Van der Sar dived right to keep out Nicolas Anelka’s spot kick, sealing another victory for United.
6. Celtic 2 Inter Milan 1, 1967
Celtic became the first British side to pick up the trophy after a pulsating 2-1 victory over Italian giants Internazionale in Lisbon. Jock Stein’s side outplayed their Italian counterparts with a brand of attacking football that set the tournament alight. Despite going down to an early penalty, Celtic fought back and Tommy Gemmell levelled things up on 63 minutes. The greatest moment in the club’s history was completed when striker Stevie Chalmers pounced with seven minutes remaining to send the European Cup back to Scotland for the first and only time.
5. Liverpool 3 Borussia Monchengladbach 1, 1977
Liverpool became the second English side to pick up the trophy after seeing off their German rivals in Rome. Terry McDermott opened the scoring after 28 minutes and although Danish midfield Allan Simonsen’s equaliser threatened to spoil the party, nothing could stop the Reds lifting the cup. Tommy Smith headed his side into the lead, before Bertie Vogts brought down Kevin Keegan in the area. Phil Neal tucked away the resulting penalty and Liverpool began the run of six consecutive victories in a row for English sides.
4. Manchester United 4 Benfica 1, 1968
A year after Celtic became the first British side to win the competition, United subsequently picked up the honour for the English teams. Ten years on from the Munich air disaster and Sir Matt Busby led his side out at Wembley looking for European glory. Bobby Charlton gave them the lead, but they were pegged back by Jaime Graca’s strike for the Portuguese side. Extra time then followed and United ran out comfortable winners followed goals from George Best and Brian Kidd, before the skipper Charlton put the icing on the cake, slotting home to seal a famous victory.
3. Real Madrid 7 Eintracht Frankfurt 3, 1960
In terms of quality, this game is considering one of the greatest ever played as Real Madrid dismantled Frankfurt at Hampden Park in front a massive 127,000 crowd. The Germans took an early lead, but the rest of the game became a showpiece for two of the greatest players to have walked this planet. Alfredo Di Stefano bagged a hat-trick and Hungarian Ferenc Puskas scored four as the Spaniards went onto to lift the trophy for the fifth successive time since the competition begun.
2. Manchester United 2 Bayern Munich 1, 1999
Fergie’s side headed to Barcelona looking to complete a fabled treble having secured the Premiership and the FA Cup already. Without suspended talisman Roy Keane and midfield maestro Paul Scholes, United had to shuffle their pack and this looked evident early on as Mario Basler’s sixth minute goal gave Bayern the perfect start. The Germans then dominated throughout, hitting the woodwork twice and they looked certain to pick up the trophy as the game headed into stoppage time. As Peter Schmeichel headed into the opposition’s penalty area, United were clutching at straws, but Ryan Giggs’s mishit shot was turned in by Teddy Sheringham to the amazement of everyone inside the Nou Camp. 30 seconds later, United won another corner which Sheringham headed downwards, leaving Clive Tyldesley to scream the immortal words ‘AND SOLSKJAER HAS WON IT.’ The Champions League couldn’t get anymore dramatic until…
1. Liverpool 3 AC Milan 3 (Liverpool won 3-2 on penalties), 2005
For a club enriched with European history, Liverpool had endured a pretty baron spell since the 1980’s. However, they travelled to Istanbul looking to rectify that against a strong AC Milan side. Milan showed just how strong they were though, scoring with the game just a minute old after veteran skipper Paolo Maldini volleyed in a free kick. Two further goals, both from Hernan Crespo, left Liverpool staring down the barrel at half-time. Instead of capitulating altogether, they put together one of the greatest comebacks of all time. Skipper Steven Gerrard grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, nodding home the first, before Vladimir Smicer’s ambitious effort from range somehow beat Dida in the Milan goal. After Gattuso brought down Gerrard in the box, Xabi Alonso stepped up to level the game. His penalty was saved, but he smashed home the rebound, completing an astonishing recovery. Neither side could find a way through for the rest of the game, though Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek pulled off an astonishing double save from Andriy Shevchenko. And Dudek proved to be the hero of the hour again, saving from first Andrea Pirlo and then Shevchenko to hand Liverpool their greastest victory of all.