Johan Cruyff scored twice in the Rotterdam final as AFC Ajax captured the footballing zeitgeist with a 2-0 European Champion Clubs' Cup final win against FC Internazionale Milano.
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AFC Ajax 2-0 FC Internazionale Milano
(Cruyff 47 76)
De Kuip, Rotterdam
AFC Ajax were again the team to beat in 1971/72, and that no one managed to stop them shows how firm a grip they had on the European game. Not even a change of coach, the Romanian Stefan Kovacs replacing Rinus Michels, could halt the perpetual motion of Johan Cruyff and friends.
1. FC Dynamo Dresden, Olympique de Marseille, Arsenal FC and SL Benfica, all were swept aside as the holders marched to a third European Champion Clubs' Cup final in four years. Benfica ran them close before losing to a single Cruyff goal over the two legs of their semi-final; but Ajax were through to meet Internazionale FC at the Feyenoord stadium.
While the venue was Dutch, events along the road to Rotterdam suggested the football fates could yet throw up an Italian victory. Indeed, conspiracy theorists might have pointed to Inter's second-round defeat of VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach, when thrashed 7-1 in Germany in the first leg, the Italian side had been lucky to earn a reprieve from UEFA amid complaints that centre forward Roberto Boninsegna had been hit by a drinks can thrown from the crowd.
The Nerazzurri eventually prevailed 4-2 on aggregate, then overcame Celtic FC on penalties after a goalless semi-final. But hopes of an Inter hat-trick in the competition were extinguished at De Kuip. Aided and abetted by Neeskens, Blankenburg, Muhren, Haan and Krol, Cruyff was twice on target in a comprehensive Ajax victory. The final score: Total Football 2 Catenaccio 0.