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Anderlecht's cup runs over

Since 1945, RSC Anderlecht have dominated Belgian football and enjoyed success in Europe into the bargain.

By Berend Scholten

Founded on 17 May 1908 as Sporting Club Anderlecht, the Brussels-based club became RSC Anderlecht in 1933, the year of their 25th anniversary.

First title
After slowly working their way up the league ladder, Anderlecht's star really started to shine after 1945, with their first domestic championship coming a year later.

Five in a row
That marked the start of a period of dominance for Belgium's most successful side. Twenty-six league triumphs included hat-tricks of titles between 1954 and 1956, 1985 and 1987, and 1993 and 1995, while Anderlecht finished top of the table for five consecutive years between 1964 and 1968. Eight Belgian Cups and six Belgian Super Cups have been added into the bargain.

European success
In the 1970s, Anderlecht translated their domestic strength into European success, reaching the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final three years in a row from 1976. West Ham United FC were defeated 4-2 in the final at the Heysel stadium in Brussels in 1976, and Anderlecht came close to retaining the trophy the following year, losing to two late goals against Hamburger SV.

Finest hour
The 1977/78 campaign is often considered the high point of Anderlecht's European forays. Under the watchful eye of legendary coach Raymond Goethals, François Van Der Elst, Arie Haan, Ludo Coeck and Frank Vercauteren dominated midfield, while up front the creativity of Benny Nielsen and Robbie Rensenbrink posed a threat to any side. Nico De Bree was a reliable figure in goal, and Gille Van Binst, John Dusbaba, Hugo Broos and Jean Thissen formed a formidable barrier in defence.

Emphatic win
PFC Lokomotiv Sofia were dispatched 8-1 on aggregate in the first round, with Van Der Elst scoring a hat-trick inside the opening 15 minutes of the 6-1 first-leg victory in Bulgaria. The win brought Anderlecht face to face with Hamburg once again.

Rensenbrink revenge
Rensenbrink decided the first match in Germany 2-1 in Anderlecht's favour with a spectacular strike. "It was one of the most beautiful evenings of my career," said the Dutch international. "I think it was my best ever goal."

Second-leg dominance
Another Van Der Elst goal gave Anderlecht a 1-1 draw in the second leg and a place in the quarter-finals, where they met FC Porto. Having lost 1-0 in Portugal, Goethals' team produced an attacking masterclass to win the return 3-0. Next up were Dutch side FC Twente, and Anderlecht prevailed 1-0 in the Netherlands and 3-0 overall to book a third successive final appearance.

Unstoppable Anderlecht
FK Austria Wien were the opposition in Paris's Parc des Princes, but the Austrians were no match for Anderlecht. Rensenbrink scored twice, with Van Binst adding a third before half-time and completing a resounding 4-0 triumph with ten minutes left.

Super Cup successes
Anderlecht went on to beat Liverpool FC in December 1978 to lift the UEFA Super Cup for a second time, adding to their win against FC Bayern München two years earlier. They would reach the UEFA Cup final in 1983 and 1984, defeating SL Benfica in the former, but it is the 1978 victory that is most fondly remembered. "The final in Paris was one of the most beautiful matches in Anderlecht's history," Rensenbrink said.

League championships: 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1974, 1981, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001.

Belgian Cups: 1965, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1988, 1989, 1994.

UEFA Cup: 1983.

UEFA Cup Winners' Cups: 1976, 1978.

UEFA Super Cups: 1976, 1978.