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Spurs v Benfica - European Cup, March/April, 1962

Spurs' European Cup Campaign - 1961-62
Part Four - Benfica

Brian Judson wrote this series on the 40th anniversary of Spurs' only venture in the fore-runner of the Champions League - The European Cup. The series is being published on Spurs Odyssey 50 years after those events, and has been up-dated accordingly.

On March 21st 1962, Spurs played the First Leg of their European Cup Semi-Final tie with Benfica. They did not play well during the first half as they were overwhelmed by the intimidating atmosphere of the Stadium of Light. There was a fanatical crowd of 70,000 (Ed:- My figures suggest the attendance was 86,000!) people stacked in tiers in a stadium that was years ahead of its time.

Spurs did not play at all well. They fell behind after only five minutes when Bill Brown punched the ball away from Coluna. Unfortunately, the ball ran loose to Simoes, then 18 but a future star of the Portuguese national team. Simoes lobbed the ball back into the goalmouth where Aguas took advantage of indecision between Norman and Brown to score.

A moment later, the 500 Spurs fans, who had travelled to Lisbon, thought Greaves had equalised for Spurs. But, to Jimmy's disgust, the goal was disallowed for offside.

Augusto then took advantage of slack marking to fire Benfica 2-0 ahead in the 19th minute. Spurs were on the rack and the pressure was beginning to make Spurs buckle.

Spurs SHOULD have got a goal back after 35 minutes when John White made a superb centre but Greaves could not get his head to the ball, unfortunately. A minute after that, Mackay put Jones through but incredibly the Welshman managed to screw the ball wide of the goal.

At the start of the second half, Spurs were kept waiting for seven minutes before Benfica finally re-appeared on the direct orders of the referee. Aguas almost extended Benfica's lead and it took an agile leap by Bill Brown to deny Eusebio shortly afterwards.

But in the 54th minute, Spurs reduced the arrears when Blanchflower floated a ball over for Smith to thump home with all the venom he could muster. Greaves, White and Jones all wasted good chances shortly afterwards, much to Bill Nicholson's annoyance.

In the 20th minute of the second half, Benfica broke through yet again. The Spurs defence was split and Augusto nodded the ball home to give Benfica a 3-1 lead.

Spurs should have reduced the arrears in the dying moments of the match but despite the presence of two Benfica defenders actually on the goal-line, the referee decided Smith was offside.

Wednesday 21st March, 1962
Benfica 3 (2) Tottenham Hotspur 1 (0)
Attendance:- 86.000

The teams :

Benfica: Costa Pereira; Joao, Angelo, Cavem, Germano, Cruz, Augusto, Eusebio, Aguas, Coluna, Simoes.

Spurs: Brown; Baker, Henry, Marchi, Norman, Mackay, Greaves, White, R Smith, Blanchflower, Jones.

The second leg was a pulsating affair played on a Thursday night. The rafters echoed to the 'Glory, Glory!" anthems and the Angels paraded around the perimeter with a placard saying LISBON GREAVES TONIGHT!

Disaster struck for Spurs in the 15th minute when they fell further behind on aggregate. Aguas strode through the Tottenham defence as if it didn't exist to score.

After that, Spurs dominated the proceedings and thought they had equalised in the 23rd minute. Smith flicked the ball on to the hovering Greaves, who waltzed through the Benfica defence, only to see the goal disallowed for offside. But who exactly was supposed to be offside was not immediately clear. The referee seemed to award a goal but the linesman wasn't having it. He persisted in holding the offside flag up. It was only then that it was apparent that Greaves had been ruled offside but as he had had to run past several defenders, it was uncertain how the official had decided Greaves was offside.

In the 35th minute, Spurs did equalise and it was the rotund Smith who dragged Spurs back into the game. White sent over a superb cross for Smith to hammer home with all his strength.

Half-time came and went before Spurs struck again. Two minutes after the break, Coluna sent White flying in the penalty area. With cool aplomb, Blanchflower struck home the resulting penalty. Now Spurs needed one more goal to force a replay in Brussels ....

Spurs powered forward relentlessly in search of the goal that refused to come. Jones wasted yet another glorious chance when he hammered the ball too high. Greaves miscued twice from close range. And then right at the end, the mighty Mackay race forward and slashed a shot at the Benfica goal. It had 'goal' written all over it and people were celebrating an amazing come-back when the ball struck the cross bar and bounced harmlessly into the crowd behind the Park Lane goal. And soon afterwards, the game was over ...........

Spurs had been the better side on the night but had wasted too many chances. Bill Nicholson complained after the match that he had been exhorting the team to slow down and play their normal game but he had not been able to get through to them.

Thursday 5th April, 1962
Tottenham Hotspur 2 (1) Benfica 1 (1)
Attendance:- 64,448

The teams :

Spurs: Brown; Baker, Henry, Blanchflower, Norman, Mackay, Medwin, White, R Smith, Greaves, Jones.

Benfica: Costa Pereira; Joao, Angelo, Cavem, Germano, Cruz, Augusto, Eusebio, Aguas, Coluna, Simoes.

Benfica went on to beat Real Madrid in the Final.

Cheers, Brian

Spurs v Gornik Zabreze, European Cup - September 1961
Spurs v Feyenoord, European Cup - November 1961
Spurs v Dukla Prague, European Cup - February 1962


Spurs had beaten Manchester United 3-1 at home on the preceding Saturday, and just two days after facing Benfica, they beat Sheffield Wednesday 4-0. Then on the Monday, they faced Sheffield United at home, drawing 3-3. It wasn't even Easter, as that came later in April, when we played 3 games in 4 days, beating Blackburn at home and away, but losing at home to West Brom. We finished third in the league, four points behind Champions Ipswich, managed of course by Alf Ramsey. Burnley were runners-up, but we would go on to beat them in the FA Cup Final.

Thanks to Brian Judson, Spurs Odyssey will provide more archive material from 50 years ago regarding that Cup win and the historic 1962-63 European Cup Winners Cup campaign. Look out for those articles later this year (2012)

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