Fifty years since the Fairs Cup victory of 1966

Fifty years since the Fairs Cup victory of 1966

On 21 September 1966, FC Barcelona won the forerunner to what is now the Europa League thanks to a 4-2 defeat of Real Zaragoza, with Lluís Pujol scoring a spectacular hat-trick

It is more than 50 years since FC Barcelona’s third conquest of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the tournament that in 1971 became the UEFA Cup and is currently known as the Europa League.

After winning the first two editions in 1958 and 1960, and also reaching the final in 1962, the Blaugrana continued their excellent form in the competition by beating DOS Utrecht, Royal Antwerp, Hannover 96, RCD Espanyol and Chelsea to make it into the 1966 final, where they were to meet fellow Liga outfit Real Zaragoza.

Barça’s opponents were enjoying a golden era, with its legendary Cinco Magníficos forward line of Canario, Santos, Marcelino, Villa and Lapetra, and after knocking Barça out of the Spanish Cup for the third season in a row, there was quite some rivalry developing with the Catalans.

Managerial exchange

Because of the England 1966 World Cup, the final was postponed until September. Curiously, Barça were managed at the time by Argentinian Roque Olsen, who had previously been in charge of Zaragoza, while the coach of the Aragonese side was Ferdinand Daucik, the man who had led FCB in its famous ‘Five Cups’ campaign of the 1950s.

Things looked bleak after the first leg at the Camp Nou. Despite dominating almost the entire match, Barça slumped to 1-0 defeat, with Brazilian Canario scoring the only goal for the visitors after 39 minutes.

A week later the sides met again at La Romareda for what would turn out to be an absolute thriller of a second leg.

Pujol the hero

Barça went ahead through Lluís Pujol after just three minutes, but Marcelino had got Zaragoza back level by half-time. After 70 minutes, Zaballa converted a Pujol assist to put Barça 2-1 ahead, but in the days before the away goals rule, that merely meant that the game was heading for extra time.

Another goal from 19-year-old Pujol with just five minutes left on the clock looked to have finally swung things Barça’s way, but Marcelino replied at the other end almost immediately after the restart.

Last minute drama

A further thirty minutes of football would be required, with both teams down to men after Canario and Torres had both been sent off as a result of the same incident. And to make the additional half hour even more nerve-racking, there were no penalties in those days. If there was still no result – the trophy would go to the winner of a coin toss!

And that was precisely what was on the cards until the very last move of the game. Montesinos slipped the ball to Pujol in the final minute, and the teenager skipped his way through two defenders before thumping it past Zaragoza keeper Yarza. It could not have been a more dramatic finale, and the trophy was heading to Barcelona for the third time!

Força Barça
Força Barça

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