What could well be seen as the greatest triumph in the history of the blue side of Glasgow went relatively unseen in the UK. The game was not shown live, and clashing with Scotland’s home international clash with Wales was only given brief highlights in Scotland, with no coverage at all in England
Therefore finding any original coverage has been difficult. However ESPN did show a semi-documentary version as part of their European Finals series. This used the original black and white coverage with an overdubbed commentary by Tony Jones. The game was broadcast in black and white, as the host broadcasters in Spain had not yet started to use colour.
The match was Rangers third final in the Cup Winners Cup. Beaten finalists in the inaugural competition in 1960, losing to Fiorentina over two legs, they had failed to complete a Glasgow European double in 1967 when they lost to Bayern Munich, two weeks before the “Lions of Lisbon” triumphed for Celtic in the European Cup Final.
Rangers had faced a tough road to the final, including a farcical 2nd round tie against Sporting Lisbon. Level at 6-6 after extra time in the second leg, Rangers lost the resultant penalty shootout 4-1 and appeared to be out of the competition. However Rangers had realised that they should have gone through on away goals, and after appealing to the referee, the penalty shoot-out was disregarded and the Scottish side progressed to the quarter finals.
There they had despatched Torino, before gaining revenge for their 1967 final defeat by knocking out Bayern Munich 3-1 on aggregate. After despatching the German side, Rangers were hot favourites for the final against Dynamo Moscow.
Barcelona was taken over by Glaswegians for the final and although the Nou Camp was barely a quarter full for the final, the crowd was made up almost exclusively with Rangers supporters.
Rangers took an early lead through Colin Stein, the striker latching onto a long ball to fire home from just inside the box. The goal sparked scenes of delirium from the travelling fans, who undertook the first of many pitch invasions which marred the contest and delayed the restart for several moments.
Rangers doubled their lead shortly afterwards, Willie Johnston rising between Russian defenders Basarev and Zhukov to head home from 8 yards out.
With a two goal half time lead, Rangers were entitled to feel confident about the outcome. That confidence would be multiplied just moments into the second half as they went three goals up. A huge clearance by goalkeeper Peter McCloy found Johnston on the edge of the penalty area at the other end, controlling before neatly slotting in his second, and Rangers third.
At 3-0 it looked to be game over, and the Rangers players seemed to think that themselves. Understandably a touch of complacency set in, and that gave the Russian side a lifeline back into the game. Left back Willie Mathieson was guilty of a lazy pass which was pounced upon by Moscow’s right winger, who rolled the ball across the six yard box to substitute Eshtrekov to tap in.
From that moment the Russian side took command of the game as Rangers began to wilt in the heat. On several occasions they came close to reducing the gap further, as Rangers showed little ambition and seemed content to defend and hack the ball forward.
Sandy Jardine was involved in a couple of close shaves, firstly hacking off the line after a shot squeezed under McCloy, before then wildly slicing a cross towards his own goal, rescued by his keeper on this occasion.
With three minutes to go, Moscow did get a second goal as Zhukov combined well with Makhovikov on the edge of the box to lift the ball over McCloy and into the net off the underside of the bar.
Had the game gone on for a few moments longer, it’s questionable as to whether Rangers could have held on, but they did manage to cling on to their lead. The final whistle saw the hordes of Scottish fans invade the pitch again, engulfing the Rangers players in a sea of be kilted and Sombrero bedecked Glaswegians.
The events prevented the trophy from being presented as usual, as captain John Greig described in an interview shown on the programme, which was obviously filmed some time later. Greig said: “I always visualised winning a European trophy, picking up the cup and being able to go around the park showing all the supporters, who had travelled halfway over Europe to see it, but I walked into a room … and there was a big table … the UEFA committee stood at the back of it, the cup in the middle and they said “Rangers Football Club, winners” handed me the cup and I walked back along a corridor.”
The antics of the supporters was a hot topic the day after, as ITV reporter Arthur Montford was allowed on the team bus as the triumphant players travelled from Prestwick Airport to a victory parade at Ibrox. He asked Greig to comment on the fans behaviour the night before, the Rangers skipper responding: “I think the supporters got a little bit excited, but they’ve been waiting a long time, but we hope we’ve not got in too much trouble because of it.”
Unfortunately for Rangers, their skippers’ fears were founded, with the club initially being banned from European competition for two years. Following an appeal, led by manager Willie Waddell, the ban was reduced to one year, still leaving them unable to defend their trophy the following season.
The result was a huge one for Scottish football, but for some the most important game of the season was still to come.