Five fantastic Scottish club wins in Europe | @Alexecky

As part of a series of Scottish football history articles written for us by radio presenter Alex Horsburgh, today we look at his personal top five Scottish wins in Europe...


1. Celtic 2 - 1 Leeds Utd  (1970)

I put this game at number one as it is more or less the first game I can remember watching with my late father on TV. A bonding exercise that went onto provide 20 years of watching football across Scottish football grounds and on TV began that April evening in 1970.

Aberdeen Evening Express - 16 April 1970
An attendance given at 135,000 but thought to be closer to 140,000 saw the first ' Battle of Britain ' of the 1970's as the Champions of Scotland and England slugged it out for a place in the European Cup Final.

The English press had given the Glasgow giants little chance of victory at Elland Road in the First Leg of the semi final. This was despite complaints from Don Revie that the FA was doing little to help his side progress to a first European Cup Final, with domestic fixtures backing up so much Leeds were facing fines for playing understrength sides in the English League in the lead up to the last four match against the 1967 European Cup Winners. Despite the media bluster, Revie later revealed he knew Celtic had players who could hurt his team in both legs.

George Connelly scored within 45 seconds of the first game in Yorkshire to give Celtic a single goal lead they held until the end of the match, but Leeds knew it was a winner take all occasion in the second leg, and caught Celtic cold with a first half Billy Bremner rocket shot to tie the  game up at 1-1 on aggregate.

The game had been moved to Hampden from Parkhead such was the interest in the match across the UK.

Enter the mercurial Jimmy 'Jinky ' Johnstone. After Bremner gave Leeds hope and the wee man terrorised the Leeds defence, and Terry Cooper in particular, to pull the hoops up from the canvas to pave the way for goals from Bobby Murdoch and John Hughes after half time. This gave Celtic a 2-1 win on the night and a decisive 3-1 scoreline on aggregate as they secured their final place v Feyenoord of Rotterdam.

Sadly, Celtic did their last turning up of the 1969/70 tournament at Hampden as the Dutch won 2-1 in Milan to provide a shock that ranked alongside Celtic's beating of Inter Milan in the Lisbon final three years earlier.


2. Celtic 5 - 4 Partizan Belgrade (1989)

Again, this one was an armchair watch for me but there was always something special about European nights at Parkhead then and now and this particular tie couldn't have been scripted better in a Roy of the Rovers comic strip.

With English clubs still banned from Europe following the Heysel Disaster of 1985 (Liverpool v Juventus), it was an unusual sight pre-Sky to see a Celtic European tie broadcast live across the UK with Barry Davies commentating for the BBC, as the hoops attempted to overturn a 2-1 first leg defeat in the former Yugoslavia.

This was to be a memorable see-saw Cup Winners Cup tie that saw Partizan score first at Parkhead and then trail 5-3 before netting a decisive fourth goal to go through on away goals. Polish striker Dariusz 'Jackie' Dzeikanowski netted four times, with Andy Walker also scoring for Celtic but it still wasn't enough as the Scots experienced victory and glorious defeat all in the same night.

Despite scoring 5, Celtic were eliminated


3. Rangers 2 - 1 Leeds United (1992)

Actually, my first trip to Ibrox and what a night it was when Rangers provided more heartache for English Champions Leeds to match the performance of their greatest rivals from the east end of Glasgow 22 years before!

The first season of the Champions League in season 1992/3 featured a knock out stage in the first two rounds before a group stage that would decide the two finalists.

Round 2 saw a Scotland v England encounter at Ibrox and Elland Road as the last winners of the Old English First Division took on a Rangers team that had ruled Scottish football since the arrival of Graeme Souness as player manager in 1986.

Souness had not long gone back to his beloved Liverpool as boss, leaving his former Ibrox number 2 Walter Smith in charge, and the former Dundee United player kept the ball rolling until the late 90's with this game being one of his most memorable matches in charge of the Gers.

Joy as Rangers win the 'Battle of Britain'

Now Rangers assistant manager, Gary McAllister, reacted first to a corner from fellow Scot Gordon Strachan in the first half to bullet home a shot past Andy Goram, but a corner for Rangers provided the equaliser as Leeds goalie John Lukic punched the ball into his own net under pressure from Ally McCoist, before the same Scotland International netted the winner.

Rangers completed the task in Yorkshire with another 2-1 win ( McCoist and Mark Hateley) with Eric Cantona scoring a consolation for Leeds.


4. Hearts 1 - 0 Bayern Munich (1989)

I attended both legs of this tie as a Scottish correspondent for English based footie mag Football Today, and to this day I remember teaching two of my English colleagues who went to Germany with me the Hearts song.

Hard to believe it with Hearts now close to relegation from the Scottish Premiership, albeit by a possible vote, but they were the last British/Scottish team left in Europe in season 1988/9 as quarter-finalists in the UEFA Cup.

Bayern were favourites to win in Edinburgh but an Iain Ferguson goal provided the Jambos with a memorable 1-0 scoreline in the Scottish capital before they succumbed to a 2-0 2nd Leg defeat at the Olympic Stadium in Munich, although John Colquhoun, following a breakaway run, was inches from giving Hearts the crucial away goal they needed.

Aberdeen Press and Journal - 01 March 1989

5. Dundee United 1 - 0 Barcelona (1987)


Dundee United saw off Mark Hughes, Gary Lineker, Terry Venables (manager) and the rest in this UEFA Cup tie as Barça were defeated home and away (3-1 aggregate) by the Tangerine Terrors with Kevin Gallacher getting the winner at Tannadice.

I was a United fan for the night as I turned up in Dundee expecting a Hughes or Lineker hat trick and maybe a high scoring 4-2 win for the Spanish Giants. United boss Jim McLean billed the tie 'Corner shop v Supermarket' and he wasn't wrong.

What I got out of this game was a memorable night for Scottish football when the two Brit stars of Barça were played off the park by the club that had been Scottish League Champions four years before.

Dundee pulled off a famous victory v Barça in 1987


This piece was kindly written and given to @TFHBs by Alex Horsburgh - you can follow him on Twitter: @Alexecky


©The Football History Boys, 2020
(All images borrowed by TFHB and not owned by us, British Newspaper Archive used for newspaper sources)

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