Monday, 4 April 2011

Today Sport's : Champions League/When Real Madrid ruled the roost

Ahead of Tuesday's crucial quarter-final clash with Tottenham Hotspur, rewinds to 1960 and a time when Real Madrid truly ruled the European roost.

By Ian Griffiths, Senior Editor

With Real trailing Barcelona in the La Liga standings by eight points, Jose Mourinho is under pressure to deliver in the Champions League.

As Los Blancos prepare for their quarter-final showdown with Harry Redknapp's talented Tottenham Hotspur side, Mourinho may be tempted to take inspiration from a time when the Spanish giants were simply untouchable, a time when they truly were the toast of Europe.

In 1960, and five years after its inception, the European Cup witnessed what is still rated by many as one of the competition's greatest ever finals when perennial high rollers Real, with arguably their finest ever side, crushed Germany's Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3 thanks to a sumptuous display of football at Glasgow's Hampden Park.

It would prove to be a night to remember for the 127,621 souls lucky enough to witness Real's silky delights, as legendary marksman Ferenc Puskas scored four and his equally renowned striking partner Alfredo Di Stefano grabbed a hat-trick to leave Eintracht reeling and help claim the Spanish club's fifth successive European Cup title.

On that warm May 18 evening, Real, who had squeezed past bitter rivals Barcelona in the semi-finals, were always going to be the team to beat. Despite the reassuring presence of the talented Alfred Pfaff, flying winger Richard Kress and livewire forward Erwin Stein, Eintracht had been installed as underdogs, a team that many believed stood little, if any, chance of beating Miguel Muñoz's talented band of professionals.

The pre-match pessimism that circled above Germany's reigning champions was well merited. After all, Real had won Europe's premier club competition every year since it first began in 1956 and, alongside Puskas and Di Stefano, boasted the likes of midfield ace Francisco Gento and Uruguayan defensive rock Jose Santamaria. The Spaniards, marshalled superbly by captain fantastic Jose Maria Zarraga were, quite simply, one of the finest teams ever to grace a football pitch.

Although Real's flowing and terrifically skilful brand of football was to eventually bring its reward, Eintracht, under the wily guidance of coach Paul Osswald, showed few signs of an inferiority complex during their decidedly bright start.

Indeed, the German upstarts nearly took a surprise early lead when an Erich Meier cross-cum-shot was expertly tipped onto the bar by Rogelio Dominguez in the Real goal. Clearly emboldened by the close call, Eintracht continued to press.

Pfaff and Kress both went close for Eintracht before the inevitable breakthrough came after 18 minutes. Stein intelligently moved wide to receive the ball and, from his wing position, delivered a delightful pass that the onrushing Kress rammed home with aplomb. Real were behind - although not for long.

Almost immediately Gento, released by an astute Puskas header, ran clear of the Eintracht defence only to see his shot clip the woodwork. It was the shape of things to come as, just eight minutes after conceding the game's opening goal, Real restored parity courtesy of Di Stefano's clinical finish from an inviting Canario cross.

Three minutes later, the maestros from Madrid were ahead. Canario's drive proved too hot for Egon Loy to hold and Di Stefano, showing wonderful alertness, reacted quicker than anyone to bag his and Real's second of the match. In a flash, Eintracht's early vim and vigour disappeared, battered into submission by a team whose every move was now mesmerising an appreciative Glaswegian audience.

2-1 rapidly became 3-1 when on the stroke of half-time, Puskas, fed by Luis Del Sol, rifled a fierce drive past Loy and into the roof of the net from an almost impossible angle. Game over.

The second half was to follow the first's pattern. Try as they may, Osswald's charges simply could not find an answer to Real's sublime skills and refreshing directness, the Spanish quality proving too much for Friedel Lutz as the full-back pushed a speeding Gento as the duo raced for the ball inside Eintracht's penalty area. Puskas stepped up to calmly increase Real's advantage from twelve yards only nine minutes after the restart.

The Hungarian-born marksman, who died last year, duly grabbed his third on the hour mark. Once again, Gento's lightning pace was too much for Lutz to cope with. Having manufactured time and space for himself, the speed merchant's left flank cross found the head of Puskas. From close range, the 'Galloping Major' was never going to miss. It was sublime stuff.

Not that Puskas was finished. The former Honved favourite duly scored again on 71 minutes, this time lashing a terrific shot beyond the outstretched arms of Loy after expertly gathering a pass from Jose Maria Vidal.

Bloodied yet unbowed, Eintracht pulled one back through Stein's accurate 72nd minute strike. Their admirable flurry proved to be brief.

Di Stefano, not to be outdone by Puskas, notched his own hat-trick within two minutes of the German riposte, the Argentinean's fine run and shot giving a surely disheartened Loy little, if any chance.

Stein then capitalised on a rare Vidal error to notch his second and complete the scoring some 14 minutes from time - a minor triumph for Eintracht on a day when Real's majestic brilliance wowed the planet.

Real Madrid 7 - 3 Eintracht Frankfurt - May 18, 1960

Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland

Real Madrid: Dominguez, Marquitos, Santamaria, Pachin, Zarraga (captain), Vidal, Canario, Del Sol, Di Stefano, Puskas, Gento

Scorers: Di Stefano (26, 29, 74), Puskas (44, 56 pen, 60, 71)

Eintracht Frankfurt: Loy, Lutz, Eigenbrodt, Hoefer, Weilbacher, Stinka, Kress, Lindner, Stein, Pfaff (captain), Meier,

Scorers: Kress (18), Stein (72, 76)
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