UEFA Europa League Two-Legged Finals
The UEFA Europa League final was contested over two legs from the early days of the Inter Cities Fairs Cup until 1997. Listed below are some of the more memorable UEFA Europa League two-legged finals.
1972: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Wolverhampton Wanders: 2 – 1 (Away), 1 – 1 (Home)
The first official UEFA Europa League final was also the last final to see two English football clubs pitted against one another. Despite a series of impressive performances during the early stages of the competition, and the presence of tournament top-scorer Derek Dougan, Wolverhampton were never favourites to win.
Tottenham Hotspur were a significant force in English football at the time, and had carried their form over into European competition. Few were surprised then, when the Spurs won their crucial away tie 2-1. Wolverhampton were only able to salvage a 1 all draw from their away tie, handing Tottenham Hotspur the first official UEFA cup football tournament title.
1976: Liverpool vs. Club Brugge: 1 – 1 (Away), 3 – 2 (Home)
The 1976 UEFA Europa League two-legged final saw the English domestic league champions take on the Belgium league champions. With both clubs looking to cap their domestic successes with European honours, this was always going to be a hard-fought affair.
Brugge’s progress through the competition was impressive, and they reached the final’s having disposed of several top European clubs, including AS Roma. Liverpool had, in contrast, had a fairly easy run to the final, effortlessly putting down weaker opposition.
Their first real test came in the semis when they defeated the mighty Barcelona. Despite Brugge’s good form and a first-leg 1 all draw they were no match for a Liverpool team at their peak. The Merseysiders won their home tie 3-2 in front of an ecstatic Anfield crowd.
1997: FC Schalke 04 vs. Inter Milan: 1 – 0 (Home), 1 – 0 (Away), 4 – 1 (Penalties)
1997 marked the last time that a UEFA Europa League two-legged final was played. The finals saw Italian powerhouse Inter Milan pitted against the relatively obscure German club FC Schalke 04.
Somewhat predictably, Inter Milan had little difficulty making it through to the finals. FC Schalke 04, on the other hand, were made to fight all the way with their semi-final against minnows CD Tenerife going into extra-time before Schalke were able to clinch the winning goal.
Despite the apparent mismatch, FC Schalke 04 put up a mighty battle for the Cup. They surprised many by defeating Inter Milan 1-0 at home, before succumbing to the Italians in Milan. The game’s only goal, by Zamorano, forced the second tie of the two-legged final into a penalty shootout where the plucky Germans saw their UEFA Europa League football tournament dreams come true as they thrashed Inter Milan 4-1 on penalties.