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29 May 2008

On this day in history: First English club to win European Cup, 1968

On the evening of 29th May 1968, Manchester United faced the Portuguese club Benfica in the final of the major association football club competition in Europe. Manchester United were the first English side to make to a final, but not the first British side. The previous year the Glasgow Celtic team had defeated Inter Milan to win the trophy in Portugal, earning themselves the nickname of the 'Lisbon Lions'. The Manchester side had an extra advantage since their final took place at Wembley Stadium in London.

The score stood at 1:1 at the end of normal time: United had scored first through England striker Bobby Charlton's header in the 53rd minute; however, midflielder Jaime Graça scored for the Lisbon club in the 75th minute. The hard-tackling Benfica could have won the match had it not been for the heroics of the United goalkeeper Alex Stepney who managed to prevent the great Eusébio from scoring before the end of the ninety minutes.

In extra-time, Manchester United found the net three more times, another goal from Charlton, and one each for Brian Kidd and George Best, who later that year received the acolade of European Footballer of the Year.

Below you can see a British Pathé News report with the highlights of the final.