Saturday, May 2, 2009

2 May 1962 - That's A Hat Trick Gone To Waste

On 2 May 1962, Benfica defeated Real Madrid 5-3 in Amsterdam to claim their second consecutive European Cup.

1962 was the seventh season of the prestigious competition and the Final matched the only two clubs with European Cup trophies in their cabinets - Real Madrid won the first five tournaments, while Benfica had won the previous year's cup, defeating Barcelona 3-2.

Real were heavy favorites, having moved through the tournament with relative ease. In the preliminary round, they defeated Hungarian side Vasas 5-1 on aggregate, then overwhelmed Denmark's Boldklubben 1913 in the first round by the aggregate score of 12-0. Their only real test leading up to the Final was against Juventus, who held them to a 1-1 draw, but then lost 3-1 to Real in the ensuing play-off. Real returned to form in the semifinals, beating Standard Liège 6-0.

Benfica's road was nearly as smooth, with a 6-2 first-round defeat of Austria Vienna, a 7-3 win over Nuremberg in the second round, and a 4-3 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the semifinals.

In the Final, Real took an early lead as their Hungarian forward Ferenc Puskás scored goals in the 17th and 23rd minutes. Benfica pulled even after goals from José Águas (25') and Domiciano Cavém (34'), but Puskás completed his hat trick with a goal in the 38th minute.

The scoring pace continued in the second half, as Benfica's Mário Coluna scored an equalizer in the 51st minute. Then came Eusébio. Benfica's soon-to-be legendary forward, making his first European Cup Final appearance, put Benfica ahead for the first time when he scored in the 65th minute. He scored again three minutes later to seal the win for the Portuguese side.

Benfica has appeared in the Finals five more times, finishing as runners-up each time. Real went on to win four more European Cup/UEFA Champions League titles, most recently in 2002.

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