#50GreatestMatches - #28 West Ham United 2-1 Zaragoza
West Ham United celebrates its 125th anniversary on 29 June – and as part of our celebrations we're counting down to the date with the Club’s #50GreatestMatches – brought to you by Monster Energy!
Since the Hammers were formed as Thames Ironworks FC in 1895, we have played in excess of 5,500 matches – reaching five FA Cup finals - and one women's FA Cup final, lifting European silverware and competing across the globe and enjoying thousands of memorable moments.
With your help and recommendations, we've whittled down that list of 5,500 matches to a top 50, featuring landmark goals, trophies held aloft, heroic individual performances and remarkable collective efforts.
We continue the #50GreatestMatches countdown with a European Cup Winners' Cup semi-final victory...
West Ham United’s 1965 European Cup Winners’ Cup final victory over TSV 1860 Munich has been written about many times in the intervening 55 years.
The Irons produced a performance full of artistry to defeat the West German Cup winners 2-0 at Wembley Stadium, with Alan Sealey scoring both goals in the space of three second-half minutes.
It was the highlight of Ron Greenwood’s unforgettable spell as West Ham manager, which also featured an FA Cup victory, a League Cup final and the emergence and development of some of the finest players in the Club’s history.
However, the Hammers’ semi-final victory over Spanish Cup and Inter-Cities Fairs Cup holders Zaragoza was arguably the most impressive result of the lot.
Greenwood’s team, led by Bobby Moore and featuring Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Ken Brown, Ronnie Boyce and Johnny Byrne, had overcome La Gantoise of Belgium, Spartak Prague of Czechoslovakia and Lausanne of Switzerland to reach the last four.
Meanwhile, Zaragoza had thrashed Valetta of Malta, edged past Dundee of Scotland and beaten Cardiff City of Wales, scoring 15 goals in the process, to reach the semi-finals.
While their previous opponents may not have been of the highest order, the Spanish club’s forward line – nicknamed ‘Los Magnificos’ – certainly was.
Brazilian Canario and Spaniards Marcelino, Juan Manuel Villa, Carlos Lapetra and Eleuterio Santos combined to great effect as Zaragoza enjoyed the best period in their history to date.
With 1860 Munich and Torino of Italy also through to the semi-finals, there were no easy ties for the Hammers, but the common consensus at the time was that Zaragoza were the worst-possible draw for Greenwood’s Londoners.
With the home leg first, a West Ham victory was imperative.
That target was achieved, as the Hammers produced a display full of heart and desire in front of a bumper 35,086-strong crowd.
After an early let-off, Brian Dear put the home side in front, stooping to powerfully head Sissons’ left-wing cross into the net.
And it was 2-0 on 24 minutes when Byrne controlled on his chest before sending a well-struck shot low into the bottom left-hand corner.
Two goals to the good, West Ham sat back and put men behind the ball, but the uncharacteristic tactic backfired as Brazilian Canário threw the visitors a lifeline when his shot squirmed through Jim Standen’s grasp.
West Ham clung on to win 2-1, with most commentators claiming the slender advantage would not be enough to stave off the rampant Spaniards on home turf, especially after Byrne suffered a season-ending knee injury while representing England.
Zaragoza duly took the lead midway through the first half through Lapetra, but the Englishmen held firm and prevented further damage to the scoreline.
When Sissons equalised, the Irons were back in front on aggregate, 3-2, and it would stay that way until the final whistle.
After two of the most heroic performances they had every produced, West Ham were in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final.