Tuesday, May 23, 2017

23 May 1954 - It Had To Be The Shoes

On 23 May 1954, Hannover won their second German championship, beating Kaiserslautern 5-1. And they did it with a little tactical advantage in footwear.

Six teams--the five regional Oberliga champions and one runner-up--qualified for the German championship tournament and were split into two groups. The two group winners then contested the final, which was played at the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg.

Before the match, eight of Hannover's eleven starters were given new Puma boots with a special feature--screw-in studs. Puma had been developing the technology for several years, first releasing the "Super Atom" model in 1951. When Kaiserslautern won the German championship in 1953, seven of their players wore the Super Atom. By 1954, however, Puma had developed an improved style dubbed the "Brasil" and Hannover quickly adopted the new boots.

They must have been quite an improvement. Even though Kaiserslautern took a 13th minute lead, Hannover reeled off five straight goals to take the title with an overwhelming 5-1 victory (including one Kaiserslautern own goal from defender Werner Kohlmeyer in the 48th minute). It was their second title, with the first having come in 1938.

After seeing the success of the Brasil, West Germany used the boot for their 1954 World Cup team which won the tournament over Hungary. Coincidentally, the German team included five members from Kaiserslautern side (including Kohlmeyer), but no player from Hannover.

Monday, May 22, 2017

22 May 2011 - A Goal In Time For Pavlyuchenko

On 22 May 2011, a pair of goals from Spurs striker Roman Pavlyuchenko relegated Birmingham and set a new Premier League record.

On the last day of the season, Birmingham went into their match against Tottenham in the table's seventeenth place, one spot above the relegation zone and level on points with eighteenth-place Blackpool and nineteenth-place Wigan.

Playing at White Hart Lane, Birmingham--who had won that season's League Cup--went down 1-0 to a goal from Pavlyuchenko in the 49th minute, but drew level thirty minutes later with a strike from Craig Gardner. Then, as they pushed forward for the goal they needed to secure their top-flight survival, Pavlyuchenko struck again with a match winner in the 93rd minute to seal Birmingham's drop. (As it turned out, even a draw would not have been enough for Birmingham, as Wigan won their match at Stoke.)

For Tottenham, the win kept them in fifth place and qualified them for the next season's Europa League.

Pavlyuchenko's goal was the 1,063rd of the Premier League season, setting a new English scoring record for a 38-game season. The record was broken the following season, however, as Premier League teams scored a total of 1,066 goals. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

21 May 2005 - Turbine Takes Djurgårdens For A Spin

On 21 May 2005, Turbine Potsdam won their first UEFA Women's Cup, beating Djurgårdens 1-5 over two legs.

It was the fourth edition of the tournament, which had been dominated by German and Swedish teams up to that point. Frankfurt were the first winners in 2002 over Umeå, then Umeå lifted the cup in 2003 and 2004 (the latter over Frankfurt). But Frankfurt did not qualify for the 2004-05 tournament and Umeå were eliminated by Djurgårdens in the quarter finals.

The two teams met in Stockholm on 15 May for the first leg of the final, with Turbine Potsdam winning 0-2 with goals from their forward pairing of Conny Pohlers (34') and Anja Mittag (53'). In the second leg, played six days later before a crowd of 8,677 at the Karl-Liebknecht Stadion in Potsdam, the hosts quickly resumed their momentum, extending the aggregate lead to 4-0 in the first ten minutes with goals from striker Petra Wimbersky (2') and Pohlers (9').

Djurgårdens got one back in the 10th minute with a goal from Kristin Bengtsson, but Pohlers restored the margin with a 16th-minute strike, effectively ending the contest.

Potsdam returned to the final in three more times (2006, 2010, 2011), and won it again in 2010.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

20 May 1966 - Three Out Of Four's Not Bad

On 20 May 1966, Peñarol won their third Copa Libertadores, beating River Plate with two extra-time goals in a playoff.

The Uruguayans were the most experienced side in the tournament's history up to that point, having appeared in  three previous finals (as winners in 1960 and 1961 and as runners-up in 1963), while River Plate were playing in their first one. But the Argentine side reached it by beating the 1965 champions, Independiente, in the semifinal group stage.

The final was scheduled for two legs, with the winner decided on points. Peñarol won the first leg in Montevideo on 12 May by the score of 2-0, but River Plate rallied six days later to win 3-2 in Buenos Aires with a 69th-minute goal from midfielder Ermindo Onega to force a playoff match.

Playing before a crowd of 40,240 in Santiago's Estadio Nacional, Onega struck twice in the first half (29', 42') to lift the Argentinians to a 2-0 lead. But Peñarol narrowed the margin in the 65th minute with a goal from striker Alberto Spencer, then drew level six minutes later with a River Plate own goal.

Still 2-2 at the end of regulation, the match went to extra time, where Peñarol dominated. Spencer scored in the 102nd minute to take the lead, then forward Pedro Rocha found the back of the net in the 109th minute to cap the 4-2 comeback.

Friday, May 19, 2017

19 May 1968 - It Was Just A Formality, Really

On 19 May 1968, Iran won their first Asian Cup, beating defending champions Israel 2-1 in Tehran.

In addition to being their first Asian Cup title, it was Iran's first time in the competition. They did not enter in 1956, they did not qualify in 1960, and they withdrew from the 1964 tournament, which was hosted and won by Israel.

As hosts of the 1968 edition, Iran qualified automatically, but they quickly demonstrated their ability once the tournament began, winning their first three matches over Hong Kong (2-0), China (4-0), and Burma (3-1). Under the competition's round-robin format, the six points Iran earned from those wins were enough to clinch the title before they faced Israel, as Burma, their closest challenger, had already completed all of their matches and had only five points.

Playing before a crowd of 30,000 at the Amjadieh Stadium, Israel jumped to a 56th-minute lead with a goal from midfielder Giora Spiegel, but Iran rallied with goals from striker Homayoun Behzadi (75') and midfielder Parviz Ghelichkhani (86') to win 2-1 and complete their perfect record of four wins in four games.

Iran repeated as champions in 1972 and 1976, while Israel was expelled from the Asian Football Confederation in 1974, then joined UEFA in 1994.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

18 May 2011 - Porto Closes The Door On An Amazing Season

On 18 May 2011, Porto won their third trophy of the season under new manager André Villas-Boas, beating their Portuguese league rivals Braga in the Europa League Final.

Villas-Boas had taken charge of Porto at the start of the season, having previously served as manager for the British Virgin Islands (1998-99) and Portuguese top flight team Académica de Coimbra (2009-10). In between, he served as an assistant for José Mourinho at Porto, Chelsea, and Inter.

Returning to Porto as manager in June 2010, he guided the club to an amazing season that saw them win the Primeira Liga without losing a single game--they won 27 and drew three of their 30 matches (including two wins over Braga). They also won the Taça de Portugal.

Their Europa League campaign was equally impressive, winning 11 of 14 matches on their road to the Final (they lost twice, once to Sevilla and once to Villareal, but advanced on away goals and aggregate score, respectively). In the Final, played before a crowd of 45,391 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, the tournament's top goalscorer, Falcao, grabbed his 17th strike of the competition in the 44th minute. It proved to be the match-winner, as the day ended 1-0 to Porto.

It proved to be the last season at Porto for both the striker and his manager. Falcao moving to Atlético Madrid in August 2011 and had another successful season, scoring 36 goals in all competitions. Villas-Boas took charge of Chelsea in June 2011, but was sacked in March 2012 after a series of disappointing results.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

17 May 1974 - Bayern Delivers A Beating

On 17 May 1974, Bayern Munich won the first of three consecutive European Cups, beating Atlético Madrid 4-0 in a replay.

It was the first time in the final for both teams, who played to a 1-1 draw two days earlier, with both goals coming late in extra time to force a replay. They returned to the Heysel Stadium in Brussels on 17 May and did not have to wait long for Bayern to stake their claim to the trophy.

In the 28th minute, forward Uli Hoeness (pictured) outraced the Atlético defenders to a long ball played out of Bayern's own half, then pushed the ball between the keeper's legs to open the scoring. Exactly thirty minutes later, his striking partner Gerd Müller, the Bundesliga's top scorer for six of the previous eight seasons, powered a shot into the top of the net from a tight angle.

Müller extended the lead to 3-0 with another goal in the 71st minute. Not to be outdone, Hoeness got a second of his own in the 83rd minute to push the final margin to 4-0.

It was the completion of a double for Bayern, who had just won their third straight Bundesliga title. They went on to win the tournament again in 1975, 1976, 2001, and 2013.