September 29th 1971
EUROPEAN CUP WINNERS CUP FIRST ROUND
Chelsea 13-0 Jeunesse Hautcharage
Tickets for this match were an early ninth birthday present and I was doubly excited as we’d beaten the Luxembourg team 8-0 in the away leg. The papers had been full of the fairy story that had seen the little team of part-timers qualify for Europes second largest competition, the Cup Winners Cup.
The part-times of Hautcharage usually played in a local park in front of a couple of dozen people and you could see that some of the players were star struck as they walked out onto the Stamford Bridge turf.
Their team included four brothers, which has to be another European record, but the Welscher brothers aside, the most amazing thing for us home supporters that night was the sight of a winger with only one arm, called Guy Thill. For the next 90 minutes he was to be the most redundant man on the pitch. An onlooker for parts of the game and an extra defender for the other parts. Their team, that included a schoolboy and a 40 year old Centre forward were simply run ragged. Not that I cared. I was just enjoying the goal fest.
The gulf in class was there for all to see and the only question was how many Chelsea would score. The Luxembourgers held out for about five sips of my Bovril, or two minutes to be exact, before Peter Osgood was allowed time and space to bring down a cross and shoot past an exposed Lucien Fusilier in the Hautcharage goal.
I thought I was in a dream as Chelsea scored six by half time, with Osgood scoring two in the first six minutes. I remember a brass band playing. Probably the only team, I’ve seen the visitors bring their own brass band, who doubled up as the away support too.
Legend has it that Osgood, who had scored a hattrick in the away leg, had bet Peter Bonetti £5 that he’d score six, but as it was, by the final whistle he had netted just five of Chelsea’s goals in their 13-0 win.
As if picking the ball out of the net 13 times was not enough for the Hautcharage keeper, poor Lucien Fusilier also needed three stitches in his head after coming off worst in a collision with Chelsea’s goal-chasing centre-forward.
Chelsea had scored six in the first half but went one better and scored seven in the second half. As well as Osgood’s five goals, Tommy Baldwin scored a hat trick, whilst John Hollins, Alan Hudson, David Webb, Ron Harris and Peter Houseman also scored.
One almost nine year old boy was very happy that night as he walked home over Battersea Bridge with his step dad and it’s a night he’s never forgotten. It doesn’t get much better than 13 Chelsea goals under the floodlights at the Bridge.
The 13-0 win remains our largest ever victory and is indeed the only time we have reached double figures while the overall winning margin of 21-0 is still a record win in European competition.
16th April 1998
UEFA CUP WINNERS CUP – SEMI FINAL
Chelsea 3-1 Vicenza
Chelsea were the favourites to win the European Cup Winners’ Cup in the 1997-1998 season. A position that was only strengthened when Real Betis were beaten in the quarter-finals. All that stood between us and a place in the final were the unfancied Italian side Vicenza who were appearing in European competition for only the second time.
You know Chelsea though, they never do things easily and only multiple saves and the general heroics of one Ed de Goey in the Chelsea goal, kept the deficit down to a 0-1 defeat away in the first leg.
You could feel the nerves in the crowd that night at the Bridge. Everyone had seen that the Vicenza team was quite capable of holding it’s own against us and we all knew that if it hadn’t been for De Goey, we’d have been beaten out of sight already.
The nerves weren’t helped by Vincenza starting on the front foot and making De Goey make two more fine saves in the early part of the game. Then it happened. A defensive mix up ended with the Italians getting a vital away goal and the first of the night. That meant we had to score three goals in an hour against a mean Italian defence that hadn’t been breached by us in nearly two hours. I sat in the West Stand fearing the worst.
My resolved negative frame of mind lasted only three minutes though, because three minutes after they’d scored, Gus Poyet, who hadn’t played for six months because of injury, gave us hope when he put away a rebound to make it 1-1 on the night. The roar and subsequent singing was something to behold. The noise in the ground was deafening. I can’t believe that there were only 33810 in the ground that night, because the Bridge was shaking.
Half-time came and there was a strange atmosphere. Hope mixed with nervous tension. If they scored again, it was curtains. We needn’t have worried though, because as is the norm with Chelsea, it’s when our backs are against the wall, that we seem to excel and four minutes into the second half, Gianfranco Zola scored a rare header from a Gianluca Vialli cross.
The game had suddenly changed and Chelsea were largely on the offensive. Vincenza still had that away goal and were still going through. We threw the kitchen sink at them but they somehow held firm.
Mark Hughes was sent on as substitute and we started to play more direct with Sparky as the target man. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, they say and that night, the man was Sparky Hughes. He’d only been on for five minutes when one of his trademark volleys crashed into the net, sending us straight to celebratory mode. There was a scare afterwards, but our hero at the back De Goey rose to the occasion yet again and we saw the game out and we were once again into a major European final. It was one of those great Stamford Bridge nights that sticks in your memory.
6th April 2005
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTER FINAL – FIRST LEG
Chelsea 4-2 Bayern Munich
Could this be our year? That’s what we were all asking ourselves. We’d dispatched Barcelona and now for the mighty Bayern Munich. Jose Mourinho was serving a two match stadium ban and the news was full of conspiracy theories of how he was going to be in the ground but disguised, among other wild and wonderful offerings from the press.
The boys didn’t let him or us down though and we went ahead when a deflected Joe Cole shot looped into the net after just four minutes. There were sighs all around the bridge though as Bastien Schweinsteiger put them level shortly after, when Petr Cech could only parry out a stinging Ballack shot.
It was one of those nights though that helped etch Frank Lampard into Chelsea folklore as he first fired home a left foot shot and then swiveled on a sixpence to smash in a half volley. It looked awesome on the night, but if you get the chance to watch that goal sometime, just watch the technique involved, so 3-1 to the Chels.
It was a cracking match and Bayern had their chances, as any team with their quality would, but this Chelsea team was special and no one more so than Didier Drogba who powered home a fourth.
Makelele was breaking down attack after attack and Duff was running them ragged down the wing. After years of watching Chelsea produce dross, I actually couldn’t believe how good we were. We’d been brilliant all season, but first Barcelona and now Bayern Munich and we were genuinely better than them. The ground rocked with singing and stamping, when that fourth went in and I think everyone was thinking the same as me.
We were in ecstasy. Until injury time, that is when Dutch official Rene Temmink awarded a spot-kick in the second minute of injury-time for Ricardo Carvalho’s challenge on Ballack and the German international easily beat Cech from the spot.
The walk home was good but as not as good as it would have been at 4-1. Great night though.
14th March 2012
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – ROUND of 16
Chelsea 4-1 Napoli (After Extra Time)
I still think this was the best ever European night at The Bridge. Losing 3-1 from the first leg with goals from Lavezzi and two from Cavani, we had only a Juan Mata goal, that had actually put us in the lead in the away leg to give us any sort of hope.
There was an atmosphere of hope but realistically none of us really thought we’d actually pull it back, but what we witnessed was one of the club’s greatest European escapes to reach the Champions League quarter-finals beating Napoli 4-1 after extra time at Stamford Bridge to edge an electrifying tie 5-4 on aggregate.
With Roberto Di Matteo at the helm after the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas, what we witnessed that night is hard to put into words. We forced the issue right from the start but our fast tempo was met with Napoli’s own desire to seemingly distance themselves from the Italian mentality of sitting on and keeping a lead and instead, going for goals themselves. Which meant that after 20 minutes on the back foot, when Cavani missed a sitter, putting the ball wide from six yards out, we were to witness a wide open, end to end football match.
We hadn’t been great that season and the team was ageing, but they rolled back the years, as though they knew that for many of the team, this would be their last realistic chance of winning a Champions League trophy.
The crowd was the twelfth man that night. People talk about Anfield and Celtic on a Champions League night, but the Bridge was a cauldron of noise to match anywhere on this particular night. I couldn’t actually speak the day after. My tonsils killed me.
We watched as Didier Drogba opened the scoring and captain John Terry’s header made it 2-0 just after the interval. 3-3 on aggregate game on. The noise intensified as Chelsea went in search of a winner only for Napoli to regain the advantage through Gokhan Inler’s low drive.
There was 15 minutes left when we got a penalty. The ground went silent as Frank Lampard placed the ball on the spot and then erupted again as the ball hit the back of the net. The pressure that must have been on Super Frankie as he placed that ball. I couldn’t watch and I wasn’t taking it. Once again though, the legend that is Frank Lampard, produced the goods when needed.
So 4-4 and extra time. It was nail biting stuff and Cech pulled off an excellent save low to his left. Then Drogba got into space, received the ball and cut it back and it was party time as Branislav Ivanovic smashed home the winning goal in the 105th minute.
What a night. You may disagree but for me, that’s my all time top game at the Bridge. One of those nights when you are proud of the team and proud of your fellow supporters and you’ve all worked in unison to achieve the seemingly impossible.
19th May 2012
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
Bayern Munich 1-1 Chelsea (Chelsea win 3-4 on penalties) After Extra Time.
No need for me to do a report on this match. It’s enshrined in Chelsea history. I couldn’t get a ticket and so it’s the only European game on my list that I didn’t actually attend. Instead I watched it down the pub with some friends who are fellow Chelsea supporters.
The game was amazing for our sheer resilience. At Bayern Munich’s home ground against Bayern Munich. Cech’s penalty save from Robben. Muller putting them in the lead with just seven minutes to go. Drogba’s headed equaliser, just two minutes from the end. Mata missing the first penalty in the shoot out. Cech saving from Olic and King Didier scoring the all important winning penalty. It was, with the exception of my children being born, the best night of my life.
As the Champions League trophy was held aloft with our blue and white ribbons on, I don’t mind sharing with you the fact that I actually cried tears of joy and to my amazement, the other lads were crying them too. It meant that much, after all these years of supporting the boys in blue. If someone had told me when we were at Grimsby away fighting to avoid relegation to the old second division back in the eighties, that one day I’d see Chelsea lift the European Cup, I’d have laughed in their face. Funny how things turn out.
For that reason the best of the best, is a game I didn’t actually go to.
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