1977 European Cup

The 1977 European Cup final, held on 25 May at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, marked a historic clash between Liverpool of England and Borussia Mönchengladbach of West Germany. Both teams were appearing in their first 1977 European Cup final, though they had met previously in the 1973 UEFA Cup final, where Liverpool emerged victorious. Managed by Bob Paisley, Liverpool had enjoyed a remarkable journey to the final, defeating teams like Saint-Étienne and FC Zürich. The match drew a crowd of 52,078 passionate fans eager to witness footballing history. In an exhilarating contest, Liverpool secured a 3-1 victory, with goals from Terry McDermott, Tommy Smith, and Phil Neal, while Allan Simonsen scored for Mönchengladbach.

Journey to the 1977 European Cup

Liverpool entered the 1977 European Cup as reigning UEFA Cup champions, having defeated Club Brugge 4-3 on aggregate in the 1975-76 UEFA Cup. As English champions from their triumph in the 1975-76 Football League First Division, Liverpool were drawn against Northern Irish champions Crusaders in the first round. The first leg at Anfield saw Liverpool secure a 2-0 victory with goals from Phil Neal and John Toshack. The return leg at Seaview ended in a 5-0 win for Liverpool, with four of the goals coming in the last nine minutes, resulting in a 7-0 aggregate win.

In the second round, Liverpool faced Turkish champions Trabzonspor. The first leg in Trabzon ended in a 1-0 defeat for Liverpool due to a second-half penalty. However, they turned the tie around at Anfield with a 3-0 win, thanks to three early goals, securing a 3-1 aggregate victory and a place in the quarter-finals.

1977 European Cup

The quarter-finals pitted Liverpool against the previous year’s runners-up, Saint-Étienne. The first leg in France ended in a 1-0 loss for Liverpool. The return leg at Anfield became one of Liverpool’s most memorable European nights. Kevin Keegan scored early to level the tie, but Saint-Étienne equalized early in the second half through Dominique Bathenay, leaving Liverpool needing two goals to progress.

Ray Kennedy scored midway through the second half, and with 18 minutes left, David Fairclough, the “super sub,” scored to give Liverpool a 3-1 win on the night and a 3-2 aggregate victory. In the semi-finals, Liverpool faced Swiss champions FC Zürich. Despite initially falling behind, Liverpool won the first leg 3-1 at the Letzigrund. They dominated the second leg at Anfield, winning 3-0 and securing a 6-1 aggregate victory, which ensured their place in the final.

Borussia Mönchengladbach entered the 1977 European Cup as Bundesliga champions. In the first round, they faced Austrian champions, Austria Wien, losing the away leg 1-0 at the Franz Horr Stadium but winning the return leg 3-0 at the Bökelbergstadion with goals from Uli Stielike, Rainer Bonhof, and Jupp Heynckes, securing a 3-1 aggregate victory. In the second round, Mönchengladbach faced Italian champions Torino. They won the first leg 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino and held a 0-0 draw in the second leg, advancing to the quarter-finals with a 2-1 aggregate win.

The quarter-finals saw them up against Belgian champions Club Brugge. After a 2-2 draw at the Bökelbergstadion, Mönchengladbach needed a win in the second leg. Wilfried Hannes’ late goal secured a 1-0 victory, resulting in a 3-2 aggregate win and a spot in the semi-finals. Facing Soviet champions Dynamo Kyiv in the semi-finals, Mönchengladbach lost the first leg 1-0 at the Central Stadium. In the return leg, Rainer Bonhof equalized the tie, and Hans-Jürgen Wittkamp’s late goal secured a 2-0 win, sending Borussia Mönchengladbach to their first 1977 European Cup final with a 2-1 aggregate victory.

The Heated Game of the 1977 European Cup

The 1977 European Cup final was the first appearance in this prestigious match for both Liverpool and Borussia Mönchengladbach. Despite being debutants in the European Cup final, both clubs had prior European success. Liverpool had defeated Mönchengladbach in the 1973 UEFA Cup final and had recently won the 1975-76 UEFA Cup by beating Club Brugge. Borussia, on the other hand, had triumphed in the 1974-75 UEFA Cup, decisively beating FC Twente. Liverpool entered the final as newly crowned English champions, having won the 1976-77 Football League by a single point. They had also reached the FA Cup final, aiming for an unprecedented treble, but lost 2-1 to Manchester United.

Borussia Mönchengladbach arrived as Bundesliga champions, also winning their league by a single point. They aimed to become the second German team to win the European Cup, following Bayern Munich’s three consecutive victories from 1974 to 1976. The match started with Mönchengladbach’s Rainer Bonhof hitting the post early. In the 24th minute, Herbert Wimmer was injured and replaced by Christian Kulik. Shortly after, Liverpool’s Ian Callaghan won the ball and passed to Steve Heighway, who set up Terry McDermott for the opening goal in the 27th minute.

1977 European Cup

Borussia responded by dominating possession but couldn’t equalize before halftime. Seven minutes into the second half, Allan Simonsen capitalized on a misplaced Jimmy Case pass to score and level the match. Liverpool almost won a penalty shortly after when Kevin Keegan appeared to be fouled, but the referee waved play on. Mönchengladbach continued to press, with Uli Stielike forcing a save from Liverpool goalkeeper Ray Clemence. In the 64th minute, Liverpool regained the lead from a corner.

Steve Heighway’s delivery was headed in by Tommy Smith, marking his 600th appearance with a crucial goal. Later, Bonhof seemed to foul Heighway in the box, but again, no penalty was given. Finally, in the 82nd minute, Liverpool was awarded a penalty when Keegan was brought down by Berti Vogts. Phil Neal converted, securing a 3-1 lead for Liverpool. No further goals were scored, and Liverpool claimed their first 1977 European Cup, cementing their place in football history with a hard-fought and memorable victory.


Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach in the 1977 European Cup final marked a historic achievement for the club. Overcoming early challenges and showcasing their resilience, Liverpool secured their first 1977 European Cup under Bob Paisley’s management. Goals from McDermott, Smith, and Neal highlighted their dominant performance, while Clemence’s crucial saves ensured their triumph. This victory solidified Liverpool’s status as a European powerhouse and set the stage for their future successes. The match remains a memorable chapter in Liverpool’s storied history, symbolizing their determination and excellence on the grandest stage of European football.

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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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