We are the Champions, Champions of Europe - 28th May 1975

28 May 2021 07:54 am, by YorkshireSquare

Leeds United reached new heights when they lifted the 1973-74 League championship, producing a brand of football which earned them another shot at the European Cup but what was to have been the greatest night in Leeds United’s history turned into a nightmare. Despite dominating against a negative Bayern Munich , United’s dreams of taking club footballs greatest prize were blown apart by two late goals. In Paris, luck deserted United in their hour of need. Little went right for Leeds in the match as they claimed, with some justification, that they had suffered at the hands of some poor refereeing, as just two years after the shambolic refereeing.

Bayern would probably not have agreed with that synopsis after coming off worst in some brutal early exchanges. Terry Yorath, whom Manager Jimmy Armfield had picked ahead of Eddie Gray, clattered Bjorn Andersson, just as French referee Michel Kitabdjian blew for a foul against Frank Gray. The challenge forced the Swedish International to limp off, to be replaced by Josef Weiss, after just five minutes, but eventually toe-to-toe combat did give way to some football with United the more progressive of the two teams. Dominating in the first half, Leeds ran Munich ragged as the holders, who had beaten Athletico Madrid in the previous year’s Final, seemed content to let United come to them. That simply invited trouble and they were lucky to survive two strong penalty appeals.

Following close efforts by Norman Hunter and Peter Lorimer, whose long range efforts just whizzed past the post, they had the two penalty appeals rejected. Both involved Munich skipper Franz Beckenbauer, who had led his country to World Cup glory in Munich in the previous summer. In the first, he seemed to thrust out an arm and handle the ball as he was on his knees with Peter Lorimer taking the ball round him in the penalty area. In the second Allan Clarke had his legs whipped from under him by the German Captain two minutes before half-time. Incredibly the referee, who had a clear view and was less than ten yards from the incident, failed to give a penalty, much to United’s disbelief.

Allan Clarke recalled the incident, “Although they were favourites, we dominated the first half and the least we deserved was a penalty when Beckenbauer brought me down just before half-time. I picked the ball up and went on a run; Beckenbauer came over, I dropped my shoulder and went past him and was about to bend the ball round Maier, when he wrapped his legs round me and pulled me down. It was a blatant penalty. When I got to my feet I couldn’t believe the referee had given a goal kick. We all appealed, but the referee, who was less than ten yards away from the incident, didn’t want to know.”

After both the penalty appeals had been turned down, despite their frustration United continued to call the tune while Bayern lost inspirational midfielder Uli Hoeness, who was replaced by Klaus Wunder, three minutes before half-time, after hurting himself when tackling Frank Gray. United’s main attacking ploy was to deliver the ball accurately to the head of Joe Jordan, who dominated the aerial challenges. United continued to make chances, but when they did get a sniff at goal they found World Cup winning goalkeeper Sepp Maier in stupendous form. As Joe Jordan skipped away from the Bayern defence and whipped in a right foot shot, the big German keeper made a spectacular leaping catch.

The second half took a similar pattern to the first and United, with Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles running the midfield, continued to press and were frustrated again on the hour mark by the German goalkeeper, Sepp Maier, who denied Billy Bremner with a brilliant point-blank save, as he spread himself to deny the Leeds skipper after Paul Madeley had headed on Peter Lorimer’s free-kick. Then the game turned around dramatically in a matter of minutes, midway through the second half. Peter Lorimer thundered a sixty-sixth minute volley past Sepp Maier, only to have the effort disallowed because Billy Bremner had strayed offside, although Leeds claimed that he was not interfering with play. It was even harder to take as the referee had initially awarded a goal, but in the end he allowed the linesman’s opinion to over-rule his initial opinion and the unstoppable Peter Lorimer volley was ruled out. It was a shattering blow and the turning point in the match. All hell had broken loose at the Leeds end of the all-seater Parc des Prince Stadium behind Maier’s goal.

Both the mood and complexion of the match altered minutes later as Bayern took the lead totally against the run of play. After seventy-one minutes, Danish star Conny Tortensson slipped a neat through ball to Franz Roth, who raced past Paul Madeley and clipped a left-foot shot past the advancing David Stewart and into the left-hand corner of his net. It was a class goal, but totally out of keeping with Bayern’s approach to the game. United were broken, eight minutes later Eddie Gray was sent on to replace Terry Yorath but the Scottish star had hardly touched the ball before Bayern doubled theit lead after eighty-one minutes. Hans-Josef Kapellmann broke past Norman Hunter and Frank Gray on the right and cut the ball back from the by-line for goal-poacher Gerd Muller, who had barely had a kick all night, to steal in front of Paul Madeley, playing in place of the suspended Gordon McQueen, and turned the ball in at the near post. The smash and grab had been completed, leaving United empty handed from a controversial final for the second time in three years.

For the full story of Don Revie's great side and their rise to the top of the game check out Twelve at the Top