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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

1956 - 1957 : Real Madrid - Fiorentina

Real Madrid CF 2-0 AC Fiorentina

The second edition of the European Champion Clubs' Cup saw a new name in the hat, if not on the trophy. Manchester United FC defied Football League advice to join the starting field of 22 clubs; and Matt Busby's side swept aside any doubts about their commitment to the competition with a 10-0 thrashing of RSC Anderlecht.

Goals galore
Another feature of the preliminary round was BV Borussia Dortmund's tie with CA Spora Luxembourg, which went to a third match after ending 5-5 on aggregate. There was no away-goals' rule and Dortmund prevailed in the play-off only to fall at the second hurdle to United. The latter's reward was a quarter-final against Athletic Club Bilbao, which United won 6-5 over two legs.

United defeated
The semi-finals would be the extent of the Red Devils' progress, however. The holders, Real Madrid CF, beat them 3-1 at home then drew 2-2 away to reach the final at their Chamartín stadium. UEFA had awarded hosting rights to the Spanish side the previous summer - and only SK Rapid Wien had looked capable of denying them the chance of defending the title in front of their own fans. The Austrian team, along with other top Czechoslovakian, Hungarian and Yugoslavian sides, had pioneered European club competition in the Mitropa Cup in the 1930s. Their pedigree was clear as they overcame a 4-2 reverse in the first round in Madrid to win 3-1 in Vienna; yet even they succumbed 2-0 in a replay.

Fiorentina await
So to the final, where an AC Fiorentina side including forwards Beppe Virgili, Miguel Montuori and Brazilian winger Julinho Botelho lay in wait. The Viola had seen off Grasshopper-Club and FK Crvena Zvezda, but never recovered from a disputed Alfredo di Stéfano penalty 20 minutes from time. Paco Gento completed the scoring to leave captain Miguel Muñoz to collect the cup from General Franco.

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