Champions League: 5 of the greatest all-English European showdowns

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Spurs host Manchester City this week in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, as two more English top-flight clubs go head to head in European footballs biggest club competition. This scenario seems to be have been a regular occurrence in recent years, as the Premier League habitually provides the main contenders for European glory without (in most cases) actually ever providing the winner.

Once again, we’ve been scrolling through the archives at Paddy Power HQ to come up with our definitive list of the best all-English clashes in European football history.

Liverpool FC footballer Graeme Souness wins the ball, early 1980s. (Photo by Duncan Raban/Getty Images)

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After Nottingham Forest had taken the football world by storm and won the 1978 First Division title just 12 months after being promoted from the second tier, England would have two representatives in the European Cup the following season after Liverpool’s Wembley triumph over Bruges the previous May.

When the two clubs were drawn together in the first round of the competition, cynics protested that the draw (which was unseeded in those days) had been fixed claiming UEFA were sick of the English dominance after Liverpool’s back to back successes.

Many people also dismissed Forest’s chances of progression, but they were made to eat their words after Brian Clough’s side took a 2-0 first-leg advantage at the City Ground. A young striker called Garry Birtles, who’d been a carpet fitter 12 months earlier, put Forest ahead and when Pool skipper Phil Thompson turned round to him to explain that “One goal wouldn’t be enough,” a late second goal from defender David Needham allowed Birtles to reply to the permed wonder; “Will two be enough then?”

As it turned out, one would have sufficed after heroics from Forest keeper Peter Shilton in a 0-0 second-leg at Anfield, ensured Clough’s side eliminated the holders before going on to win the trophy in Munich against Malmo.

Chelsea’s English defender John Terry misses his penalty during the final of the UEFA Champions League football match against Manchester United at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on May 21, 2008. AFP PHOTO / Alexander Nemenov (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)


It’s almost 11 years since the only all-England Champions League Final at a rain-soaked Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, which United won after a dramatic penalty shoot-out. Cristiano Ronaldo had put The Red Devils ahead on 26 minutes before Frank Lampard levelled on the stroke of half-time.

After no further scoring in regulation time, the match went into extra-time and with the dreaded penalty kicks looming, Chelsea striker Didier Drogba decided he didn’t fancy it so he decided to slap United defender Nemanja Vidic to earn himself a red-card four minutes from time. The shoot-out itself was dramatic and after Ronaldo had fluffed his lines (then burst into tears) it came down to Blues skipper John Terry to win the trophy for his team; unfortunately for JT, he slipped at the vital moment and watched in horror as his spot-kick rattled the frame of the goal.

Ryan Giggs, still pissing himself after the England captains miss, coolly slotted in his kick, which meant moody French striker Nicolas Anelka had to score for the West London side. United keeper Edwin van der Saar ensured he didn’t and United had won the cup for the third time in their history.


36 years before Moscow, Wolves and Tottenham Hotspur played out the first ever all-English European final in the newly-branded UEFA Cup which had succeeded The Fairs Cup, a competition that was so poor even Newcastle United had won it

The first-leg took place at Molineux and it would be a match that was remembered for a sensational performance from Spurs legend Martin Chivers, whose double strike (his second an absolute beauty) turned out to be the goals that clinched the trophy for the North London side. The Spurs side that day also contained the sublime skills of World Cup winner Martin Peters and the wrap-a-round hairstyle of Ralph Coates, whilst Wolves could call upon the talents of Scottish international Jim McCalliog, who scored the home sides consolation on the night and temperamental Irishman Derek “The Doog” Dougan, a man so feisty he could start a fight in an empty room.

Spurs, under the guidance of the legendary Bill Nicholson, had become the first English side to lift a European trophy nine years earlier when they won the Cup Winners Cup and any fears of a Wolves comeback in the second-leg were admonished when Alan Mullery gave the home side the lead in a game that ended 1-1.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 05: Manchester United players acknowledge the fans after victory in the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg match between Arsenal and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on May 5, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)


After United’s John O’Shea had scored the only goal at Old Trafford against Arsenal in the 2009 Champions League semi-final first-leg, Gunners fans were confident their side could overturn the deficit and make the Rome Final to face either Chelsea or Barcelona.

Within 11 minutes of the start of the second-leg at The Emirates, however, their dreams lay in tatters as Park Ji-sung and Cristiano Ronaldo effectively put the game out of reach. On 61 minutes, a brilliant counter-attack from United rubbed salt into the Arsenal wounds as Ronaldo doubled his tally for the night to send Gunners fans heading for the exits with over a quarter of the game to play (nothing new there then).

United’s Scottish international midfielder Darren Fletcher decided that he wanted to start his summer holidays early so he got himself sent-off 15 minutes before the end, which meant he would miss the final which United would lose 2-0 to a Messi inspired Barcelona.

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM – MAY 01: Dirk Kuyt of Liverpool scores the penalty against Petr Cech of Chelsea to win the UEFA Champions League semi final second leg match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on May 1, 2007 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


By 2007, Liverpool and Chelsea absolutely despised each other which was, in large parts, thanks to Jose Mourinho’s arrival in English football and the fact that the two teams seemed to play each other in big games both domestically and in Europe season after season.

In 2007, Chelsea, who was playing in their third Champions League semi-final in four years, took a slender 1-0 advantage to Anfield for the second-leg which was wiped out before half-time thanks to a goal from Daniel Agger. After the interval, Liverpool almost got their noses in front but a Dirk Kuyt header cannoned back off the crossbar. As the contest headed into extra-time and with penalties looking likely, Didier Drogba almost won the game for the visitors, but Reds keeper Pepe Reina denied the big Ivorian his moment of glory and the game did go to spot-kicks.

How Chelsea and Mourinho must have wished that the Drogba chance had gone in because from the penalty-spot, they were basically crap, with only Lampard converting. Liverpool ran out 4-1 winners in the end but lost the final 2-1 to AC Milan who avenged their Istanbul nightmare of two years previous.

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