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United shine in Wembley final

Manchester United FC 4-1 (aet) SL Benfica
Ten years on from the tragedy of Munich, a side led by Bobby Charlton became the first English champions of Europe as Benfica's final woes continued.

Manchester United captain Bobby Robson hold aloft the trophy after his team's 4-1 victory against Benfica at Wembley
Manchester United captain Bobby Robson hold aloft the trophy after his team's 4-1 victory against Benfica at Wembley ©Getty Images

Two years before, also at Wembley, England were crowned world champions. After another pulsating match that required extra time, Manchester United FC brought the European Champion Clubs' Cup to England for the first time, just ten years after an unthinkable tragedy seemed to have ended their dreams of such an honour.

That night in February 1958, a plane crash in Munich claimed the lives of 23 people, including eight United players, their chief coach and their trainer, as they returned from a European tie in Belgrade.

Yet manager Matt Busby, himself injured in the disaster, somehow rebuilt that team, which on this night produced a performance high on both skill and spirit.

United captain Bobby Charlton and defender Bill Foulkes were on the aeroplane a decade earlier and, appropriately, it was the former that both opened and completed the scoring in the final.

But the first half was tense, some crunching tackles causing problems for George Best in particular, with Fernando Cruz in uncompromising mood. David Sadler went close several times and Eusébio powered a shot onto the crossbar.

But it was only after the break that the scoring began, Charlton producing a searing header from Sadler's cross.

Still, one goal would not be enough to beat a Benfica side whose forwards had starred for Portugal in the 1966 FIFA World Cup. It took a fine rearguard from United to keep them at bay, and Best was even finding some space at the other end.

But with ten minutes to go Benfica were level. José Augusto found José Torres, who nodded the ball down as Eusébio drew the United defence, allowing Jaime Graça to steal in and score from an acute angle. Benfica may even have claimed their third European Cup, but twice Alex Stepney denied Eusébio.

So to extra time, and two minutes in, Best ran onto Brian Kidd's flick, danced past the defence and goalkeeper José Henrique and scored. Within two further minutes, Kidd, on the day of his 19th birthday, pounced to head in after Henrique had saved from Sadler. Then, ending an incredible seven-minute spell, Charlton turned in Kidd's cross.

United may have beaten Benfica by a 5-1 scoreline in Lisbon in 1966, but this time victory completed their mission.