Pancev & Savicevic – Red Star vs Bayern – 1991

16 10 2010

I remember watching the European Cup Final between Red Star Belgrade and Marseille. The result was 0-0 with Red Star winning on penalties. The British commentators were appalled. Apparently, only one side had gone out to play football and that was Marseille … the Yugoslavs were set up to play on the counter attack and unwilling to take risks … they’d played for penalties and it was an injustice that they were walking away with Europe’s greatest prize.

Well that’s one view. The truth is that Red Star were playing to their strengths – strengths that had served them so spectacularly well to get to the final. I find it hard to believe that anyone who had seen their breathtaking counter-attacking goals in Munich the previous month could have been so critical of Red Star’s ‘negative’ approach.

That day was a classic example of counter-attacking football. 1-0 down to Bayern in Munich, things looked bleak. Then, on the stroke of half-time, Bayern tried one probing pass too many and the game was turned on its head. Some neat work found Robert Prosinecki in virtually the right-back position. 5 touches and 9 seconds later, Darko Pancev had the ball in the net and it was all-square:

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The second half winner was a remarkably similar story. Once again Red Star invited the German champions onto them but retained their shape and waited for the error. It came when a threaded forward pass was intercepted – 5 touches and 9 seconds later, the score was 2-1. This time Pancev delightfully nudged the ball to Dejan Savicevic and the future Milan man raced forward to fire home with aplomb.

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Red Star nearly threw away their advantage in the second leg during a memorable 2-2 draw but it was events in Munich that shaped the tie and set Red Star Belgrade on their way to the European title.

A victory for the world class counter-punchers.

For more on the roots of this victory, read my piece on Yugoslavia ’87 – The Real Golden Generation.

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