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1968/69: Prati rises to the occasion

Pierino Prati scored the first European Champion Clubs' Cup final hat-trick since Ferenc Puskás in 1962 as AC Milan put an inexperienced AFC Ajax side to the sword at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid.

AC Milan celebrate winning the 1968/69 European Cup final
AC Milan celebrate winning the 1968/69 European Cup final ©Getty Images

AC Milan 4-1 AFC Ajax
(Prati 8 40 75, Sormani 67; Vasović 60p)
Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid

Manchester had two goes at winning the 1969 European Champion Clubs' Cup, but English champions Manchester City FC lost to Fenerbahçe SK in the first round, while holders Manchester United FC fell to Milan AC at the second-last. The Italian side's 2-1 aggregate success was all the more admirable given that they had managed to stop Denis Law scoring.

The Scottish international had hit seven goals in United's 10-2 rout of Waterford United FC, and another two in the second round against RSC Anderlecht. No matter: it was Nereo Rocco's side, conquerors of IFK Malmö FK and Celtic FC, who were through to the final at Real Madrid CF's Santiago Bernabéu stadium, their opponents being AFC Ajax.

Rinus Michel's team had beaten SL Benfica 3-0 in a quarter-final replay with two goals from a young Johan Cruyff. This after overhauling a 3-1 first-leg deficit by winning the second leg by the same margin in Lisbon. Ajax then defeated FC Spartak Trnava of Czechoslovakia - one of few Eastern European teams to have avoided a boycott of the tournament - 3-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals.

Yet the Dutch side's inexperience would tell against them on the big day. Pierino Prati, with the first hat-trick in a final since Ferenc Puskás in 1962, and Angelo Sormani gave the Rossoneri a comfortable 4-1 victory. Milan were European champions for a second time, adding club football's prize bauble to the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup they had lifted a year before.