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1988 Super Cup: Mechelen miracle continues

Underdogs Mechelen defeated PSV to claim the UEFA Super Cup.

Mechelen overcame PSV in the 1988 UEFA Super Cup
Mechelen overcame PSV in the 1988 UEFA Super Cup ©Getty Images

Mechelen 3-0 PSV Eindhoven
(Bosman 16 50, Valckx og 17)

PSV Eindhoven 1-0 Mechelen
(Gillhaus 78)
Mechelen win 3-1 on aggregate

Mechelen's European campaign in 1987/88 was quite unlike any other, and though the club were declared bankrupt and closed in the early 2000s, few in their native Belgium will ever forget them.

On 11 May 1988 in Strasbourg, Dutch striker Piet den Boer headed Israeli international Eli Ohana's left-wing cross past goalkeeper Stanley Menzo to score the only goal of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final, and give the unheralded Belgian side victory over Dutch giants Ajax.

For the 10,000 fans who followed Mechelen to France, it was a magnificent conclusion to an improbable first European campaign which had seen the red-and-yellow striped side overcome Dinamo Bucureşti, Saint Mirren, Dinamo Minsk and Atalanta on the way to the final.

Backed by the fortune of local electronics magnate John Cordier and led by Dutch coach Aad de Mos, Mechelen mixed Belgian diligence in the form of Michel Preud'homme and Lei Clijsters (the father of Belgian tennis star Kim Clijsters) with Dutch daring from the likes of Erwin Koeman, Den Boer and Graeme Rutjes.

Having got a taste for Dutch opponents in beating Ajax, Mechelen were given another chance to take on another Eredivisie side in the UEFA Super Cup final when they lined up against PSV Eindhoven, who had overcome Benfica on penalties after a 0-0 draw to take the European Champion Clubs’ Cup in Stuttgart.

The form book favoured PSV, but the Mechelen miracle had a life of its own by the time that the first leg of the final kicked off in Belgium on 1 February 1989. Two goals from Dutchman John Bosman either side of an own goal credited to PSV’s Stan Valckx took the wind out of the Dutch side’s sails.

The second leg was almost a non-event, as Mechelen managed to hold their opponents at bay in Eindhoven until the 78th minute when Johann Gillhaus scored what proved to be the only goal of the leg. A 3-1 aggregate victory was another feather in the cap of a Mechelen side who would win their one and only Belgian title in 1988/89.