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Top 10 European Cup/Champions League finals of all time

Ahead of the 2020 Champions League final, Sports Mole ranks the 10 greatest finals in the history of the competition.

Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich meet in a mouthwatering Champions League final at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon on Sunday night.

Both teams are littered with world-class talent and the contest pits two of the deadliest attacks in Europe against each other.

PSG and Bayern comfortably dispatched their semi-final opponents with 3-0 victories and, with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Robert Lewandowski on show, goals will again be expected this weekend.

The showdown has all the makings of a classic, which would follow in the footsteps of plenty of other thrilling Champions League finals from years gone by.

Here, Sports Mole counts down the 10 greatest of all time.



10. Liverpool 3-1 Borussia Monchengladbach (1977)

Four years on from the same two clubs meeting in the 1973 UEFA Cup final, Liverpool took on Borussia Monchengladbach in the European Cup equivalent having also won the UEFA Cup in 1976 as well.

Bob Paisley's side were only the third English club to make the European Cup final and just the second to win it, but their victory sparked an era of dominance which saw an English club lift the trophy for each of the next six years - half of which came courtesy of Liverpool themselves.

Of all of those finals during England's spell as kings of Europe, the 1977 edition is the only one which will go down as a classic for the neutrals - the following nine finals produced a grand total of nine goals between them.

Terry McDermott opened the scoring for the Merseyside outfit after a slick team move shortly before the half-hour mark, only for Allan Simonsen, who would go on to win that year's Ballon d'Or, to equalise with a stunning strike early in the second half.

A couple of Liverpool icons sealed the club's maiden European Cup triumph, though, with Tommy Smith marking his 600th appearance for the club in style with a thumping header shortly after the hour mark and Phil Neal wrapping things up from the spot eight minutes from time.



9. Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich (1999)

We can almost hear the complaints and uproar from Manchester United fans - how can one of the most dramatic and iconic moments in Champions League history only be ninth on this list?

Well, in truth, this was on course to be one of the more forgettable finals until the clock ticked into stoppage time. As it was, it ended up being one of the most unforgettable, try as Bayern Munich might to banish it from their memories.

A United side shorn of suspended influential duo Roy Keane and Paul Scholes fell behind to a sixth-minute Mario Basler strike and offered little sign of getting back into the game for the next 84 minutes, whereas Bayern hit the woodwork twice.

With Ryan Giggs and David Beckham both playing out of position and Jesper Blomqvist on the left, manager Alex Ferguson turned to his bench to make two fateful substitutions, Teddy Sheringham coming on for Blomqvist in the 67th minute and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replacing Andy Cole in the 81st.

Just as the fourth official signalled three minutes of stoppage time, United won a corner which looked like last-chance saloon, prompting goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel to come up for it in what was his last ever game for the club.

The corner was not cleared properly and when Giggs fired it back in, Sheringham swept it into the bottom corner to seemingly rescue extra time for United at the death.

The drama had only just begun, though, and just 30 seconds after the restart United won another corner which Beckham took, Sheringham flicked on and Solskjaer poked into the roof of the net - two goals in less than two minutes which left Bayern desolate, Samuel Kuffour beating the ground with despair and captain Lothar Matthaus in disbelief.

UEFA officials were forced to hastily untie the Bayern-coloured ribbons attached to the trophy and replace them with Manchester United ones as Ferguson's side celebrated their second European Cup triumph and an unprecedented Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble.



8. Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid (2014)

For the first time in history, two teams from the same city made it to the final of the Champions League as Madrid reigned supreme in Europe.

Geographically less than 10km separated the two teams, but in terms of Champions League pedigree the distance between them was huge; Real had reached a record 13th final and were searching for the fabled 'La Decima', whereas Atletico had only made the final once before, and that was 40 years prior - the longest gap between finals for any club.

Even so, Atletico went into the match having won La Liga for the first time since 1996 and looked as though they would add the Champions League crown to that when Diego Godin's looping header gave them the lead in the 36th minute.

Diego Simeone's side protected that advantage in typically fierce fashion until the third minute of stoppage time, when Real stalwart Sergio Ramos steered a fine header into the bottom corner to force extra time.

Having been so close to winning, Atletico suddenly looked like a beaten side and goals from Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo in extra time made the final scoreline look far more one-sided than the reality of the game.



7. Manchester United 4-1 Benfica (1968)

Manchester United's 1999 success may have been more dramatic, but their performance in winning their first European Cup 31 years earlier was far more impressive and infinitely more emotional.

Ten years on from United seeing their previous European Cup contenders devastated by the deadly Munich Air Disaster, the Red Devils became the first English side to reach the final of the competition, which was to be played at Wembley.

Munich survivors Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes started the game, led by fellow survivor Matt Busby, and it was Charlton who opened the scoring in the 53rd minute.

A Benfica side including Eusebio levelled things up 11 minutes from the end to force extra time, but much like Real's 2014 win over Atletico, the additional period proved to be a one-sided affair.

The jewel of United's post-Munich phoenix restored their lead when George Best produced a trademark slalom past the keeper and rolled the ball into the empty net, and just two minutes later Brian Kidd put his side in control with a header on his 19th birthday.

Kidd then turned provider as Charlton added the icing on the cake with a third goal in the opening nine minutes of extra time, looping his finish into the far top corner to ensure that United became the first English club to get their hands on the biggest prize in European club football.



6. AC Milan 4-0 Barcelona (1994)

Two heavyweights of European football faced off in Athens in the 1994 final, with four-time champions AC Milan and 1992 winners Barcelona having lifted the trophy three times between them in the previous five years.

Even so, it was Barcelona that went into the contest as heavy favourites, with the Spanish press and Barca boss Johan Cruyff in supremely confident mood.

On the face of it, that confidence did not seem entirely misplaced; Milan no longer had the Dutch triumvirate which inspired them to back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990, with Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard having left and Marco van Basten injured.

World-record signing Gianluigi Lentini was also injured, while Alessandro Costacurta and captain Franco Baresi were suspended. On top of that, head coach Fabio Capello was also forced to leave out Jean-Pierre Papin, Brian Laudrup and Florin Raducioiu due to UEFA rules on non-nationals.

In contrast, Cruyff's Barcelona were in their 'Dream Team' pomp, having just won a fourth successive La Liga title with the likes of Romario, Pep Guardiola, Ronald Koeman and Hristo Stoichkov in their ranks.

What followed was one of the greatest performances the competition has ever seen as a Daniele Massaro brace gave Milan a 2-0 lead by half time, which was soon extended by Dejan Savicevic after the restart.

Marcel Desailly then capped off the scoring as he secured his status as the first player to lift the trophy in back-to-back years with different clubs, ensuring that Milan became only the second team after Real Madrid to win the title five times.

Barcelona, by contrast, would not win another major trophy under Cruyff - at that stage their most successful ever manager - with Milan well and truly dismantling the 'Dream Team' era.



5. Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United (2011)

Speaking of dream teams, Guardiola's Barcelona are widely regarded as one of the greatest club sides of all time and the 2011 Champions League final showcased them at the very peak of their powers.

It was the second time in three years that these two sides had faced off in the Champions League final, with Barcelona winning the 2009 edition 2-0.

Both clubs were three-time winners of the competition and had plenty of recent experience in the showpiece event too, with United appearing in the final for a third time in four years and Barca for a third time in six years.

Ferguson quickly acknowledged after the game that his side did not have much experience playing against a team as good as that Barcelona, though, declaring Guardiola's men as the best he had ever faced in his long career and admitting that they had given United a "hiding".

Predictably, Lionel Messi was the main tormentor and his stunning strike nine minutes into the second half capped off a majestic individual performance while also giving Barcelona the lead back after Wayne Rooney had cancelled out Pedro's opener.

David Villa secured the win with a fine curling effort with 21 minutes to go, and in the end United were grateful that the scoreline did not get any worse with Barca ending the game with 12 shots on target to United's one.



4. Real Madrid 4-3 Stade de Reims (1956)

The first ever European Cup final set the bar high for subsequent editions as Real Madrid began their still-unparalleled run of five successive titles in the competition.

The entire landscape of European football may well be different today had Reims won the 1956 final, though, and they were not too far away from doing so - particularly after taking a 2-0 lead within 10 minutes at the Parc des Princes in Paris.

Madrid icon Alfredo Di Stefano halved that deficit in the 14th minute, though, and by the half-hour mark the Spanish outfit were all square again courtesy of Hector Rial's strike.

Michel Hidalgo restored Reims' advantage shortly after the hour mark to again put them on course to become the inaugural champions, but this time their lead lasted just five minutes before Marquitos restored parity.

Rial then doubled his personal tally with 11 minutes remaining to wrap up a seven-goal thriller and seal the trophy for Madrid, who then went and bought Reims forward Raymond Kopa later that year in a transfer which helped to strengthen a grip on the trophy which would not be released until 1961.



3. Benfica 5-3 Real Madrid (1962)

Having won each of the first five editions of the trophy, Real Madrid were dethroned by Benfica in 1961 before returning to the showpiece event the following year for a contest which needed no extra hype - the only two previous champions of Europe going head to head.

If the torch had not already been passed in 1961, Benfica's topsy-turvy 5-3 triumph 12 months later was symbolic - not only for Real Madrid being usurped as European kings but also for Benfica talisman Eusebio succeeding Di Stefano as European football's top man.

Other legendary figures also littered the field - not least Real Madrid duo Francisco Gento and Ferenc Puskas, the latter of whom netted a second European Cup final hat-trick in the space of three years.

The Hungarian's heroics were not enough, though, despite initially giving Madrid a two-goal lead inside 23 minutes.

Benfica skipper Jose Aguas quickly halved the deficit before Domiciano Cavem levelled things up shortly after the half-hour mark, but Puskas completed his hat-trick to send Madrid into half time with a 3-2 lead following a frenetic opening 45 minutes.

The second half belonged to Benfica, though; Mario Coluna made it 3-3 five minutes after the interval and then Eusebio took centre stage with a penalty and free kick within five minutes of each other to seal back-to-back European Cup titles for the Portuguese outfit.

The match proved to be the zenith of Benfica's achievements; manager Bela Guttmann reportedly asked the board for a pay rise in the wake of the triumph and, when turned down, left the club with the foreboding and cursed words: "Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champions."

Benfica have reached eight European finals since then, but lost every single one.



2. Real Madrid 7-3 Eintracht Frankfurt (1960)

The greatest teams of all time usually have one match in particular which they can look back on as the absolute peak of their powers: Pele's Brazil had the 1970 World Cup final, Guardiola's Barcelona had the aforementioned 2011 Champions League final, and Di Stefano's Real Madrid had this match.

Still regarded by many who remember it as the greatest team performance ever, Real Madrid sealed their fifth consecutive European Cup in glorious style 60 years ago as they played out the highest-scoring final in the competition's history with Eintracht Frankfurt.

The match has taken on almost mythical status as a record 127,000 people piled into Glasgow's Hampden Park to watch a feast of football, although the contest was initially in doubt after the West German FA had banned any of their clubs from facing a team containing Puskas after the Hungarian had accused the national side of being on drugs for the 1954 World Cup final.

A written apology from 'the Galloping Major' paved the way for the classic to be played out, although Puskas exacted his own form of revenge by becoming the first - and so far only - player to score four times in a European Cup final.

Indeed, only three players have ever scored hat-tricks on that stage, and another one of those came in the same game as Di Stefano helped himself to three goals too - Madrid's world-class duo tearing Frankfurt apart.

It was actually Frankfurt that took the lead, although their opening goal only served to anger Miguel Munoz's side, who were 3-1 up by half time and had extended that advantage to 7-1 with 17 minutes still to play.

A quickfire double for Frankfurt - part of a madcap four-minute spell which saw four goals, two at either end of the field - saw the scoreline become marginally more respectable, but they were left to lick their wounds after being mauled by one of football's greatest ever teams.



1. AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool - Liverpool win on penalties (2005)

Liverpool looked as though they might be on course for a similar drubbing at the halfway stage of the 2005 final, when their dream run under Rafael Benitez threatened to turn into a nightmare.

What followed will forever be steeped in history as the 'Miracle of Istanbul', but Liverpool had already upset all the odds to make it to Turkey; a memorable comeback against Olympiacos saw them scrape their way into the knockout stages, where they overcame heavy favourites Juventus and Chelsea to reach their first final since 1985 despite only finishing fifth in the Premier League that season.

Milan, by contrast, had lifted the trophy only two years previously, were appearing in their 10th final and had won the competition six times in total - second to only Real Madrid.

The team selections showcased the gulf in class between the two teams in black and white; Milan boasted a starting lineup teeming with legendary figures from back to front: Dida; Cafu, Jaap Stam, Alessandro Nesta, Paolo Maldini; Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf; Kaka; Andriy Shevchenko, Hernan Crespo. Liverpool, meanwhile, had the likes of Djimi Traore and Milan Baros in their starting XI.

Sure enough, it looked like being an embarrassing evening on the grandest stage when Milan took the lead through talismanic captain Maldini after only 47 seconds, and two Crespo strikes towards the end of the first half - the second a sumptuous chip after Kaka's scything through-ball - appeared to end the match as a contest.

Legend has it that a strain of Liverpool fans singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' filtered into the dressing room at half time and inspired the second-half comeback, but just as important was Benitez's decision to bring on Dietmar Hamann, who shackled the influential Kaka and allowed Liverpool's own main man Steven Gerrard more freedom.

Gerrard was the man who got the first goal back with a looping header in the 54th minute, and just two minutes after that a low strike from Vladimir Smicer nestled into the bottom corner to well and truly ignite Liverpool's belief.

A surging run from Gerrard on the hour mark was then halted by Gattuso in the box to earn the Reds a penalty, which Xabi Alonso initially saw saved before rifling the rebound into the roof of the net to complete one of the most remarkable comebacks in football history.

Liverpool's job was by no means done, though, and it needed some heroic defending from a cramp-ridden Jamie Carragher in particular to keep wave after wave of Milan attack at bay until extra time and beyond.

Milan's big chance to spare their blushes came with only three minutes of extra time remaining when Shevchenko - at the time arguably the world's deadliest striker - saw a header saved by Jerzy Dudek before meeting the follow-up from less than six yards out, but somehow Dudek managed to deflect that effort over the bar in a scarcely-believable double save which has since been voted as the greatest ever Champions League moment.

Dudek was back in the spotlight for the penalty shootout as he channeled his inner Bruce Grobbelaar with spaghetti legs on the line before saving Shevchenko's decisive spot kick to send the Liverpool players and fans into delirium.

It was Liverpool's fifth success in the competition, meaning that they got to keep the trophy, and it is a match which will never be forgotten in the annals of Champions League history.

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Liverpool celebrate Divock Origi's winning goal against Barcelona in the Champions League on May 7, 2019.
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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Everton5410147713
2Aston Villa44001221012
3Liverpool53111313010
4Leicester CityLeicester530212849
5Arsenal53028629
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs522115878
7Chelsea522113948
8West Ham UnitedWest Ham521211747
9Leeds UnitedLeeds42119817
10Manchester CityMan City42117707
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12Newcastle UnitedNewcastle521279-27
13Crystal Palace521268-27
14Manchester UnitedMan Utd4202912-36
15Wolverhampton WanderersWolves420247-36
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton5113911-24
17West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom5023513-82
18Burnley401338-51
19Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd501427-51
20Fulham5014412-81

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