Sunday, May 24, 2015

24 May 1972 - The (Non-) Cup Winners' Cup

On 24 May 1972, Scotland's Rangers won their first (and to date only) European trophy, beating Dynamo Moscow 3-2 in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final before 24,000 at Barcelona's Camp Nou. Despite the tournament's name, Rangers (pictured, post-match) are one of five teams to win the competition without actually entering as a cup winner.

The tournament, played from the 1960-61 season to the 1998-99 season, was open to the winners of the domestic cup competitions in UEFA's member states. But the defending Scottish Cup champion that year was Celtic, who also qualified for the European Cup by winning the league, so Rangers, as the Scottish Cup runners-up, took the spot.

Dynamo, on the other hand, qualified in the traditional manner by winning the 1970 Soviet Union Cup. All eyes in the USSR were on them, as they were the first Soviet team to make it to a European final. Still, only about 400 supporters traveled from Moscow, compared to over 16,000 for Rangers.

The Scots dominated the first fifty minutes, going up 3-0, but Dynamo pulled one back at the hour mark, then heightened the tension by scoring a second in the 87th minute. With one minute remaining, thousands of Rangers supporters invaded the pitch, thinking the match was over. The match stopped while the pitch was cleared, then when the final whistle sounded, the Rangers supporters rushed the pitch again, clashing with the police in several altercations.

As a result of the supporters' actions, UEFA banned Rangers from the next season's competition, preventing them from defending their title.

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