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Page last updated at 08:46 GMT, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 09:46 UK

When Rangers met Fiorentina in '61

UEFA CUP SEMI-FINAL FIRST LEG
Venue: Ibrox Date: Thursday, 24 April Kick-off: 1945 BST
Coverage: BBC Sport website, BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Radio 5 Live

By Keir Murray

Ibrox in the 1960s
Ibrox Park was the venue for the first leg against Fiorentina

When Rangers take on Fiorentina in the semi-final of the 2007/08 Uefa Cup, older fans will remember the Italians' victory when the teams played in the 1961 European Cup-Winners' Cup final.

In reaching that stage of the inaugural cup, Rangers became the first British team to contest a major European final.

Ten teams had taken part in the tournament back then, with Spain and France refusing to enter their eligible clubs.

The Ibrox club, managed by Scot Symon, defeated the Hungarians Ferencvaros 5-4 on aggregate in a preliminary round to reach the last eight, where they thumped Borussia Moenchengladbach 11-0 over two legs.

A 3-1 aggregate win over Wolves had Rangers supporters dreaming of continental triumph.

The first Cup-Winners' Cup final against Fiorentina was the only two-legged affair until the competition was disbanded in 1999 to make way for an expanded Uefa Cup format.

Eric Caldow
Caldow, a Rangers stalwart in the '60s, missed a penalty at Ibrox

Coppa Italia winners Fiorentina arrived in Glasgow for the first-leg in confident mood, having dismissed Lucerne and Dinamo Zagreb.

Rangers had reached the semi-final of the European Cup the previous season and had added Jim Baxter to the team for the 1960/61 campaign.

A back injury meant Jimmy Millar was absent from the all-Scottish Rangers side, though the club's top striker returned for the second leg.

With defenders Bobby Shearer and Eric Caldow behind players of the calibre of Baxter, Davie Wilson and Ian McMillan, Symon's team was not short of class.

The Fiorentina team, managed by the Hungarian Nándor Hidegkuti, boasted a host of Italian internationals, including goalkeeper Enrico Albertosi, who went on to play in the famous 1970 World Cup final against Brazil.

Swedish winger Kurt Hamrin brought pace, trickery and goals to the Italian side. He had starred for his country in the 1958 World Cup finals and was a prolific scorer in Serie A.

Among the 80,000 fans at Ibrox on 17 May was Loreno Rinaldi, who travelled from Dumfries to Glasgow with other Scots-Italians and Rangers-supporting friends.

Interview: Fiorentina fan Loreno Rinaldi

A lifelong Fiorentina fan, Rinaldi recalled the fear of being in amongst so many passionate home supporters.

"In Dumfries we had an Italian football team called the Red Romans. Some Scots boys used to play for us and we went up together on the bus. We were all friendly," said Rinaldi.

"When we got back to the bus we noticed one or two Fiorentina flags were torn down. It got a bit heated.

"It was a bit scary to be in the ground, especially because Fiorentina won 2-0. We just had to keep quiet, not show we were Italian or we'd never have got out alive!"

The first half of the Ibrox leg was played at a frantic pace, with Rangers struggling to find a passing rhythm.

Luigi Milan scored twice for Fiorentina. For the opener on 12 minutes, winger Gianfranco Petris pounced on a weak Harold Davis pass-back to keeper Billy Ritchie and set up his team-mate to score.

The Rangers team in 1960/61
Rangers in 1961 (l to r): McMillan, Greig, McKinnon, Baxter, Brand and Henderson

Rangers' chance to equalise was presented by referee Erich Steiner, who awarded McMillan so soft a penalty that the Fiorentina assistant manager ran on to the pitch to confront the Austrian official.

Sadly for Rangers, Caldow put the spot-kick wide of the post.

Milan's second goal came in the last minute when he beat Shearer to a 50-50 ball, surged forward, worked a one-two on the edge of the box and beat Ritchie once more.

The Viola were well on their way to becoming the first Italian team to win a European trophy.

In the return leg the following week at the Stadio Comunale, Rangers' use of the long ball was ineffective as the tactically and technically superior Italians dismissed the Scots' efforts.

Again Milan scored after 12 minutes. Alex Scott scored on the hour mark to draw level before Hamrin added a second.

Rangers would lose another Cup-Winners' Cup final in 1967, to Bayern Munich, before tasting European victory in Barcelona in 1972 with a 3-2 win over Moscow Dynamo.


Rangers: Ritchie, Shearer, Caldow, Davis, Paterson, Baxter, Wilson, McMillan, Scott, Brand, Hume (Millar replaced Hume for second leg).

Fiorentina: Albertosi, Robotti, Castelletti, Gonfiantini, Orzan, Rimbaldo, Hamrin, Micheli, Da Costa, Milan, Petris.




see also
Rangers v Fiorentina
23 Apr 08 |  Europe
Rangers match reaction to follow
23 Apr 08 |  Rangers
The secrets of Rangers' success
11 Apr 08 |  Rangers
Sporting 0-2 Rangers (0-2)
10 Apr 08 |  Europe
W Bremen 1-0 Rangers (agg 1-2)
13 Mar 08 |  Europe
Panathinaikos 1-1 Rangers
21 Feb 08 |  Europe


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