Milan become third European champions

AC Milan 2-1 SL Benfica
After successive victories, Benfica emulated Madrid a year earlier by losing their first final having defended the trophy.

José Altafini was Milan's match winner
José Altafini was Milan's match winner ©Getty Images

The Iberian dominance of the European Champions Clubs' Cup came to an end, as the trophy that spent the early part of its life in Madrid before a two-year sojourn in Lisbon made its way to Milan.

SL Benfica, chasing a hat-trick of victories in this competition that before tonight only they and Real Madrid CF had won in seven previous editions, led on 18 minutes through Eusébio.

But while his two goals against Madrid last year had brought the match to such a dramatic conclusion, this time it was another double scorer who was to turn the game.

José Altafini had scored eight times in the two legs of the first-round tie with US Luxembourg and also put a 20-minute hat-trick past Galatasaray AŞ in the quarter-finals by the time the Rossoneri reached the final.

His haul of 12 on the way to London equalled a record held by Ferenc Puskás, but even the great Hungarian's mark was passed when Altafini struck either side of the hour.

Wembley may only have been half full for its first European Cup final, but those who attended were well rewarded. Milan's victory was built on a confident defence, captain Cesare Maldini the leader and organiser, while Mario David and Giovanni Trapattoni combined neatly in midfield.

But for all that, the first goal was Benfica's. José Torres, one of only three players in the Lisbon side not to have been part of the 1961 and 1962 triumphs, flicked the ball on to Eusébio, and the 21-year-old from Mozambique showed agility of mind and speed of foot to spot an opening and shoot in.

Milan responded well to this setback, aware perhaps that five of the previous seven finals had been won by the side conceding first – as happened to them after taking the lead against Madrid in 1958.

Altafini was getting closer and closer, and moments after Torres had headed a great chance to double the lead wide, the equaliser came. Gianni Rivera, the hub of Milan's play, sent a pass into the path of Altafini, and he finally breached Alberto Costa Pereira's goal.

Eight minutes later, with Benfica captain Mário Coluna hobbling, Altafini stole in to give his team the advantage, beating the offside trap from Rivera’s through ball. Eusébio kept trying, but the winners' medals belonged to his opponents.