A six-part feature series looking back at our success in Europe as we look forward to Wednesday night’s Final…
After a long season full of many ups and many downs, we’ve arrived at the final game of our season – the 2019 UEFA Europa League Final against Premier League and London rivals Arsenal.
And with it being the week of the final, I thought it was a great idea to look back at our previous successful European campaigns as we hope to win our second Europa League trophy and sixth trophy in Europe overall (1 UEFA Champions League, 1 Europa League, 2 Cup Winners’ Cup, 1 Super Cup).
With that in mind, welcome to the ‘The countdown to Baku’ series. A six-part series that looks at our victorious nights in Europe, top 11 European moments of all time and look at Chelsea made it all the way to this year’s Europa League final, which is being held in Baku, Azerbaijan.
So let’s begin with part one – the 1970-71 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup campaign.
HOW THE CLUB QUALIFIED
In April of the previous season, Chelsea had overcome their bitter rivals at the time Leeds United to claim their first ever FA Cup. The Blues won 2-1 in the replay at Old Trafford thanks to David Webb’s extra-time winner, after drawing 2-2 at Wembley in the original match.
As a result, Chelsea would make their debut in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup the following season.
vs Aris Thessaloniki (Chelsea won 6-2 on Agg.)
Chelsea started off their European campaign against the Greek side Aris Thessaloniki. The Blues survived a tricky first leg away in Greece by grabbing a 1-1 draw, with Ian Hutchinson equalising and getting the valuable away goal.
The second leg back home at Stamford Bridge was a much more comfortable affair as a brace from both John Hollins and Hutchinson and a solo strike from Marvin Hinton helped Chelsea to a 5-1 win and progressing to the second round after winning the overall tie 6-2 on aggregate.
Scores & Scorers:
• 1st Leg – 1-1 (Alexiadis 51′ ; Hutchinson 75′)
• 2nd Leg – 5-1 (Hollins 7′, 27, Hutchinson 20′, 56′, Hinton 52′ ; Alexiadis 85′)
vs CSKA Sofia (Chelsea won 2-0 on Agg.)
Next up for Dave Sexton’s men was the Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia, after they comfortably got past FC Haka of Finland 11-1 on aggregate. A solitary goal in each leg from Tommy Baldwin and David Webb respectively ensured 1-0 victories for Chelsea (with a 2-0 aggregate win overall) as they qualified for the Quarter-Finals.
Scores & Scorers:
• 1st Leg – 1-0 (Baldwin 43′)
• 2nd Leg – 1-0 (Webb 41′)
vs Club Brugge (Chelsea won 4-2 on Agg.)
Chelsea’s opponents in the Quarter-Finals were Club Brugge and the Belgian side sure gave the Blues a stern contest, being the only team in this victorious campaign that forced Chelsea to come from behind and win the tie.
The first leg was played at Brugge’s compact De Klokke stadium and the Blues struggled to cope with the hostile atmosphere inside the stadium and the physical strength of the Belgian team, succumbing to a 2-0 defeat.
In the second leg, Stamford Bridge rocked with the passion of one the club’s great European nights in an ill-tempered match. Goals from Peter Houseman and Peter Osgood gave Chelsea a 2-0 lead going into extra time, before Osgood again and then Baldwin wrapped the match and the tie overall as Chelsea won 4-0 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate.
Scores & Scorers:
• 1st Leg – 0-2 (Lambert 4′, Marmenout 40′)
• 2nd Leg – 4-0, AET (Houseman 20′, Osgood 82′, 114′, Hutchinson 117′)
vs Manchester City (Chelsea won 2-0 on Agg.)
Chelsea’s progression past Brugge set up an all-English Semi-Final against the defending champions Manchester City. Going into the tie, Chelsea were decimated by injury problems with Peter Bonetti, Eddie McCreadie, Ian Hutchinson and Osgood all being forced to miss out.
There was little to choose between the teams in the first leg at Stamford Bridge. Sexton gambled on a new forward pairing of defender David Webb and the unknown South African Derek Smethurst, who wrote himself into Chelsea’s history by scoring the only goal as the club headed to Maine Road with a slender lead.
For the second leg, the game was once again a cagey encounter, but Chelsea were boosted by the return of goalkeeper Bonetti, whilst City’s replacement between the sticks Ron Healey (for Joe Corrigan) endured a miserable night.
Just before half-time, Healey clumsily fumbled the ball from a Chelsea free-kick and allowed it to go straight into the net, giving the Blues the lead on the night and a decisive away goal. With City now trailing 2-0 on aggregate and needing three goals to progress, it left the home side with too much to do and Chelsea saw the game out to secure a place in their first ever European final, against the undisputed giants of European football in Real Madrid.
Scores & Scorers:
• 1st Leg – 1-0 (Smethurst 46′)
• 2nd Leg – 1-0 (Healey 43′ OG)
vs Real Madrid (1-1, with Chelsea winning the replay 2-1)
Real Madrid was challenging for their seventh European trophy overall going into the final, a record among European clubs at the time, while the Chelsea were seeking their first ever European honour. The final took place on 19 May 1971 and was staged at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens (home of the Greek side Olympiacos).
Over 4,000 Chelsea fans made the journey to Athens to form part of a 45,000-strong crowd, with the match also being shown live on BBC.
Chelsea dominated the first half without creating any clear-cut chances. But eleven minutes into the second half, John Boyle crossed and the ball ricocheted to Osgood – had only been able to play after a series of cortisone injections in his knee, which meant he was unable to last the whole match – then buried the rebound into the corner of the net and proceeded to celebrate with an impromptu head over heels display.
With barely a minute remaining, the Chelsea fans and players could see the trophy with blue and white ribbons being transported to the side of the pitch. But just seconds before the final whistle was blown, the Blues had let the lead slip at the death as Madrid pressed back and eventually equalised through Ignacio Zoco. Despite hanging on in extra time and forcing the game to go to a replay, the Chelsea players were distraught.
With UEFA themselves not anticipating the final to need a second match, the replay was hastily arranged and played just 48 hours later in the same venue, with a markedly smaller crowd of just shy of 20,000. Despite the smaller crowd, the Chelsea support noticeably outnumbered the Madrid faithful.
With the first half-hour of the replay being a nervy affair with neither side creating any clear-cut chances, the tie and the fate of the trophy was decided in six minutes. Goals from John Dempsey – despite being initially rewarded to Webb – and Osgood put Chelsea 2-0 at half-time.
Sebastián Fleitas pulled one back for Madrid on the 75th minute and despite the La Liga side bombarding the Blues for the final 15 minutes, Chelsea’s defence managed to hold on, stopped the Spaniards from getting an equaliser and win their first ever European title.
Scores & Scorers:
• Final – 1-1 (Osgood 56’ ; Zoco 90’)
• Replay – 2-1 (Dempsey 33’, Osgood 39’ ; Fleitas 75’)
Chelsea fans invaded the pitch to celebrate with their heroes as captain Ron Harris collected the trophy. And the fans once again were there to celebrate with the players as they were treated to an open-top bus parade upon their return to London, with blue most certainly being the colour on show.
It was a moment to savour for the London club. The Cup Winners’ Cup was Chelsea’s first European title – their last for 27 years – along with being the first English side to defeat the Real Madrid in a European final.
Despite this momentous achievement, this Chelsea side never really received the accolades and acclaim it deserved. Which is a shame as just over 48 years ago on an incredible night in Greece…
This Chelsea team became the emperors of Athens.
Join me in part 2 as we look back at the 1997-98 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup campaign, where a moment of brilliance from a Chelsea legend gave us a night to remember in Stockholm…
• Part 2 – 1997-98 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (& 1998 UEFA Super Cup)
• Part 3 – ‘From Highbury to Baku’
• Part 4 – ‘The Road to Baku’ (The 2018-19 UEFA Europa League campaign)
• Part 5 – 2011-12 UEFA Champions League
• Part 6 – 2012-13 UEFA Europa League