1973 UEFA Cup

The 1973 UEFA Cup Final was a thrilling encounter between Liverpool and Borussia Mönchengladbach, marking both clubs’ debut in the tournament’s ultimate showdown. Played over two legs, the first match at Anfield witnessed a crowd of 41,169 witnessing Liverpool’s dominance, while the return leg at the Bökelbergstadion drew 34,905 eager spectators. In this article, we delve into the gripping tale of triumph and tension as Liverpool secured their maiden European trophy in a showdown that kept fans on the edge of their seats till the final whistle. Join us as we relive the moments of glory and drama from the historic 1973 UEFA Cup final.

The Rewind

In a clash of footballing titans, Liverpool and Borussia Mönchengladbach met in the 1973 UEFA Cup Final, each with their storied journeys to the pinnacle of European competition. While Liverpool sought redemption after a heartbreaking defeat in the 1965–66 European Cup Winners’ Cup final, Borussia Mönchengladbach embarked on their maiden European final appearance, propelled by their triumph in the 1972–73 DFB-Pokal. With Liverpool aiming to make history by clinching a European trophy alongside their domestic league triumph, and Borussia fueled by the desire to etch their name in European football lore, the stage was set for an unforgettable showdown.

Eyeing the 1973 UEFA Cup

Liverpool’s journey to the 1973 UEFA Cup Final was marked by a series of impressive performances against formidable opponents. Securing their spot in the tournament by finishing third in the 1971–72 Football League First Division, Liverpool faced Eintracht Frankfurt in the first round. A 2–0 victory at Anfield set the tone for their campaign, sealing progression with a goalless draw in the second leg.

Facing AEK Athens in the second round, Liverpool continued their dominance with a convincing 3–0 win at home, followed by a 3–1 triumph away. The third round saw them against Dynamo Berlin, managing a 0–0 stalemate in East Germany before a 3–1 victory at Anfield ensured advancement. Liverpool’s quarter-final clash with Dynamo Dresden witnessed a 2–0 win at home and a 1–0 victory away, sealing a 3–0 aggregate triumph. The semi-finals presented a stern challenge to reigning champions Tottenham Hotspur. After a narrow 1–0 win at Anfield, Liverpool displayed resilience in a thrilling 2–2 draw at White Hart Lane, advancing on away goals. This remarkable journey set the stage for their historic showdown with Borussia Mönchengladbach.

On the other hand, Borussia Mönchengladbach’s path to the 1973 UEFA Cup Final was marked by their dominant displays against tough opposition. Securing their UEFA Cup berth with a third-place finish in the 1971–72 Bundesliga, they faced Scottish side Aberdeen in the first round, triumphing 9–5 on aggregate. Subsequent victories against Hvidovre IF, 1. FC Köln, and 1. FC Kaiserslautern showcased their prowess, leading them to a convincing 5–1 aggregate win over Twente in the semi-finals. With an impressive blend of skill and determination, Borussia Mönchengladbach announced their arrival on the European stage, setting the stage for a historic showdown with Liverpool.

The Showdown: First Leg

In the first leg of the 1973 UEFA Cup Final, heavy rain threatened to dampen the spirits at Anfield. Despite the inclement weather, Austrian referee Erich Linemayr decided to proceed with the match on May 9. However, the relentless downpour rendered the pitch unplayable, with players struggling to control the ball. After just 27 minutes, Linemayr made the difficult decision to abandon the game, with plans to resume the match the following day.

1973 UEFA Cup

The re-arranged game provided Liverpool manager Bill Shankly with valuable insights into Borussia Mönchengladbach’s vulnerabilities. Observing defender Günter Netzer’s aerial weakness, Shankly made a tactical substitution, bringing in John Toshack to exploit this aspect of Borussia’s defense. Toshack’s impact was immediate as his header set up Kevin Keegan to open the scoring in the 21st minute.

Although Keegan missed a penalty opportunity shortly after, he redeemed himself by doubling Liverpool’s lead with a superb volley in the 33rd minute, courtesy of Toshack’s assist. Defender Larry Lloyd extended Liverpool’s advantage to 3–0 in the 60th minute, heading in Keegan’s corner kick. Despite Borussia being awarded a penalty in the 65th minute, Liverpool goalkeeper Ray Clemence’s heroics denied Jupp Heynckes from converting, preserving Liverpool’s clean sheet.

The match concluded with Liverpool securing a commanding 3–0 victory. Shankly acknowledged the significance of not conceding an away goal, praising his team’s performance while remaining cautious about the return leg. Clemence’s meticulous preparation paid off as his save ensured Liverpool’s favorable position heading into the second leg, setting the stage for a tense and decisive showdown in Mönchengladbach.

Second Leg

In the second leg of the 1973 UEFA Cup Final, Borussia Mönchengladbach faced an uphill battle after Liverpool’s commanding 3–0 victory in the first leg. Needing to score three goals to force the tie into extra time, Borussia launched a relentless assault on Liverpool’s defense from the onset.

Midfield maestro Günter Netzer orchestrated Borussia’s attacks, leading to Jupp Heynckes finding the back of the net twice in the first half. Heynckes’ goals in the 30th and 39th minutes injected hope into Borussia’s camp, narrowing the aggregate score to 3–2 and putting Liverpool under significant pressure. Despite Borussia’s spirited efforts, particularly in the early stages of the second half, they couldn’t maintain the same level of intensity as in the first half. Liverpool, buoyed by Borussia’s inability to find the crucial third goal, grew in confidence and managed to weather the storm.

1973 UEFA Cup

Ultimately, Borussia’s valiant efforts fell short as Liverpool held firm defensively, securing a 2–0 defeat in the second leg but clinching the 1973 UEFA Cup with a 3–2 aggregate victory. This historic triumph marked Liverpool’s first European trophy, a remarkable achievement that also saw them become the first English team to win a European trophy and league championship in the same season. As the final whistle blew, Liverpool’s jubilant celebrations echoed across Europe, etching their name into footballing history.


In a culmination of passion, skill, and resilience, Liverpool emerged triumphant in the 1973 UEFA Cup Final, etching their name in footballing history. Despite Borussia Mönchengladbach’s valiant efforts, Liverpool’s strategic prowess and unwavering determination propelled them to a 3–2 aggregate victory, securing their first 1973 UEFA Cup trophy. With this historic triumph, Liverpool not only cemented their status as footballing giants but also became the first English team to win a European trophy in the same year as clinching the league title. As the final whistle blew, Anfield erupted in celebration, marking the beginning of a new era of European dominance for the Reds.

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By Solomon Githinji

Solomon Githinji is a dedicated writer for Liverpool FC Times, bringing the rich history and dynamic present of Liverpool FC to life. A lifelong fan, Solomon's insightful articles capture the triumphs, challenges, and spirit of the Reds, connecting with and inspiring a global community of passionate supporters.

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