Competition: European Cup Semi-Final First Leg.
Referee: Michel Kitabdjian (
Billed as the “Battle of Britain”, United clashed with
Scottish champions Celtic in two epic semi-finals in the 1970 European Cup.
United had been locked in a titanic struggle all season with Everton in a
desperate effort to cling on to their League championship crown and went into
the first leg against Celtic with fifty-six games played in an already arduous
season. They were without Norman Hunter who had picked up a knee injury in the
Quarter-Final game with Standard Liege and had not played since. Otherwise
Manager Don Revie knew that his men were mentally and physically fatigued in their hunt for a unique League championship, European Cup and FA Cup treble. The Division One title was moving towards Merseyside, but United had battled to the FA Cup Final against Chelsea after three nerve racking semi-final games with Manchester United, and now faced the pride of Scotland to go for the biggest prize of all; the European Cup.
It was Celtic, European Cup winners in 1967, who took a massive
stride towards another Final by scoring after only eighty-five seconds, when a
high bouncing ball was cracked through the indecisive
United visibly wilted. The strain of the season made their limbs heavy and slowed their thinking, while the confident Celtic were quicker and more imaginative, with the diminutive Jimmy Johnstone taking complete control of the match with a magical display of wing wizardry which had Terry Cooper in knots.
United’s only clear-cut chance
came fairly late in the game when Eddie Gray danced through the Celtic defence
and thumped a shot which rattled the crossbar. True to their tradition of never
The other incident where fortune seemed to have deserted
them was when Billy Bremner was taken off suffering
from concussion. United had started the game without Norman Hunter and now
three-quarters of the way through the game they had lost their indomitable
skipper. With Bremner gone everyone sensed that this
was the end of the road for
To add to the gloom, Everton beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 on the same night to clinch the League title.
George Connelly scores for Celtic at Elland Road
Allan Clarke goes close at
United on the attack at Elland Road
Mick Jones in a tussle at
Back Row: Paul Reaney, Norman Hunter, Allan Clarke, Mike O’Grady, David Harvey, Gary Sprake, Paul Madeley, Eddie Gray,
Rod Belfitt, Jack Charlton.
Front Row: Mick Jones, Terry Cooper, Terry Hibbitt, Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles, Mick Bates, Peter Lorimer.
Evan Williams David Hay Tommy Gemmell
Bobby Murdoch Billy McNeill Jim Brogan
Jimmy Johnstone George Connelly John Hughes
Willie Wallace Bertie Auld Bobby Lennox