On this day.. Everton win European trophy

Today it’s exactly 35 years ago that Everton won their first and so far only European trophy, as the Toffees easily defeated Rapid Vienna 3-1 in the 1985 Cup-Winners-Cup final to complete the second part of their treble dream.

Everton had progressed with general ease through the European Cup-Winners-Cup, despite a surprisingly narrow 1-0 aggregate win over University College Dublin the first round.

After that hiccup, the Blues comfortably beat Czech side Inter Bratislava in the next round and then Fortuna Sittard of Holland in the quarter finals, before they played European giants Bayern Munich in an epic semi-final.

So on Wednesday the 15th May 1985, Everton made the short trip to Rotterdam to face surprise finalists Austrian side Rapid Vienna in the final.

The Blues team was the strongest possible, apart from perhaps the injured Adrian Heath. Strangely Neville Southall choose to wear a red goalkeeping top for this final, which is something I never understood!

Their opponents were certainly seen as no match on paper for the Toffees superb side, especially as the Blues were now playing at their peak this season.

The sense this final was a mis-match, was bourne out immediately as Everton took control straight away and were on top from the first whistle.

The Toffees showed in this game that they could adjust their high-tempo, pressing game that worked so well in the English First Division, and play a more measured possession game when needed in Europe.

Rapid Vienna were on the back foot as the Toffees dominated the ball and created some good early chances but they couldn’t get a quick breakthrough.

Both Paul Bracewell and Kevin Sheedy had good chances but they shot wide while the Rapid Vienna goalkeeper was constantly working to cut out crosses and intercepting balls.

The Austrian side were defending deeply and in numbers and frustrating Everton throughout the first half, while hardly threatening the Blues goal at all.

Finally the Toffees seemed to have opened the scoring. A Sheedy free-kick was headed on by Derek Mountfield and then Andy Gray fired home.

But the linesman’s flag was raised for offside and in these innocent days before VAR, there was no review and so the goal was disallowed.

So at halftime the game was still, somehow, goalless and it was a little surprising that Everton hadn’t been able to turn all their possession into goals.

Rapid Vienna wanted to frustrate the Toffees and hold out until late in the game. They had two key players, veteran striker Johann Krankl and midfield playmaker Antonin Panenka, who was injured, but would probably be able to come on late and might engineer a winner.

The Toffees seemed a little nervous at the start of the second half. However, despite a better start from the Austrians, as they created a few half chances and even hit the bar, it was Everton who got the breakthrough their superiority deserved.

Rapid made a mistake at the back as one of their defenders played a short back-pass, Graeme Sharp pounced to steal the ball, rounded the sprawling Rapid keeper, and then crossed to Gray who coolly put it into the empty net.

Now the Blues were back in the driving seat and they soon added another goal. Rapid brought on Panenka to try and get back in the game, and this played into Everton’s hands as the match now opened up.

Trevor Steven had a good chance well saved by the Rapid keeper, but then Everton forced a corner and Sheedy put a ball into the box and Steven hammered it in at the far post.

The Blues were totally on top but perhaps inevitably they relaxed a little as the game seemed done and dusted. A defensive lapse let Rapid in for an unexpected goal, scored by Krankl.

Straight away the Toffees replied as Sharp fed Sheedy and the brilliant winger fired home emphatically to seal the match.

Everton had won their first ever European trophy and won it comfortably. Now thoughts turned to an FA Cup final against Manchester United and a chance to complete the treble.

Of course that didn’t happen as United won 1-0 and the Blues had to settle for just the League Championship and European Cup-Winners-Cup in 1985!

The next target was to try and win the European Cup in the 1985-86 season. Given how good this Toffees side was, and the dominance of English clubs in Europe at the time, there seemed a very good probability they would do.

But they never got that chance. Two weeks after this triumph, Liverpool fans rioted at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels before the European Cup final against Juventus, nearly 50 Italian fans died, and all English clubs were soon after banned from European competition for five years.

When will Everton win another European trophy? Let’s hope that under Carlo Ancelotti the Blues can go on and conquer the continent again very soon.

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