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Sporting await second helping

Sporting Clube de Portugal have been waiting 41 years for a second European trophy.

By Rui Matos Pereira

Sporting Clube de Portugal's finest hour in European competition came in 1963/64 when the Lisbon-based side won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with a 1-0 victory following a replay against MTK Hungária FC. It is a success the current side will hope to eclipse in this season's UEFA Cup final.

Long game
However, José Peseiro's side might prefer to have a less arduous task against PFC CSKA Moskva at the Estádio José Alvalade on Wednesday than their predecessors had against MTK 41 years ago, when it took 180 minutes of football to finally subdue their Hungarian opponents.

First draw
At the first attempt, the two sides played out a dazzling 3-3 draw in front of a crowd of just 3,000 at the Heysel stadium in Brussels on 13 May. As extra time and penalties were not yet part of the rules of the competition, they had to play each other again at Antwerp's Bosuil stadium two days later.

Morais goal
This time, João Morais scored what proved to be the only goal of the game direct from a corner after 19 minutes, leaving the Sporting side - which included future 1966 FIFA World Cup stars like goalkeeper João Carvalho, central defender Alexandre Baptista and left-back Hilário - to celebrate in Belgium.

European debut
Sporting had already made a major landmark in European football by playing in the first-ever European Champion Clubs' Cup match against FK Partizan, then of Yugoslavia, back in 1955/56, and would go on to set another major record en route to the Cup Winners' Cup final in 1963/64.

Record victory
Sporting's 16-1 second-round win at home against Cyprus's APOEL FC remains the most emphatic margin of victory in the history of the competition, with Brazilian forward Mascarenhas scoring six times. Their quarter-final success against Manchester United FC was every bit as impressive as Sporting overcame a 4-1 first-leg deficit to win 5-0 in Lisbon.

Madgeburg memories
However, it was to take another decade for Sporting to reach another major semi-final, as they clawed their way to the last four of the 1973/74 Cup Winners' Cup only to be defeated by eventual winners 1. FC Magdeburg, who were then representing East Germany.

English coach
English coach Malcolm Allison helped inspire Sporting to their best-ever performance in the European Cup when he took them to the quarter-finals in 1982/83 only to be defeated by Spanish side Real Sociedad de Fútbol, losing 2-0 in San Sebastian following a 1-0 win in Lisbon.

German opponents
They reached the same stage again in 1985/86 and 1987/88 but with similar results. On the former occasion, a 1. FC Köln side including 1986 World Cup stars Harald Schumacher, Karl-Heinz Förster, Pierre Littbarski and Klaus Allofs defeated them 3-1 on aggregate, while in 1987/88, Italy's Atalanta BC overcame Sporting by the same margin.

Milan mastery
In 1990/91, Sporting reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup for the first time, only to come up against FC Internazionale Milano who, under current SL Benfica coach Giovanni Trapattoni, were on course to win the competition. Sporting held them to a goalless draw at the Alvalade, but goals from Lothar Matthäus and Jürgen Klinsmann gave Inter victory in Milan.

Long wait
However, as they overcame AZ Alkmaar in the semi-finals this season, Sporting set themselves a new UEFA Cup standard. Win against CSKA on Wednesday, and all of those years of waiting for a second title will be over.

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