CITY 1 JUVENTUS 0
UEFA Cup 1st Round 1st Leg
15th September 1976
Ref W Hungerbuhler
City Corrigan, Docherty, Donachie, Doyle, Watson, Conway, Barnes, Kidd, Royle, Hartford, Tueart – used sub Power
An article by David Clayton published in the City Match Programme 27th November 2013
…The Blues were returning to European competition after a four year absence. The Turin giants, although being one of the grandest names in world football and the most successful Italian team of the 20th century were surprisingly still without a European trophy having lost the European Cup Final in 1973. It was time to deliver and their players knew it. But if Juventus, managed by Giovanni Trapattoni, were focused on silverware, so were Tony Book’s City who were unbeaten in their first five league games that season and were looking to make a serious challenge for the First Division title.
As a gauge of how strong the Serie A outfit were at this point, it’s worth noting that many of the side that faced City in this tie went on to form the backbone of Italy’s 1982 World Cup winning side. Goalkeeping legend Dino Zoff, Antonio Cabrini and Claudio Gentile made a formidable trio in the defence while Marco Tardeli graced their midfield.
The Blues had done their homework, but everything would hinge on the ability to take their chances, and with Juventus’ defensive strength measurable against any side in Europe, that meant such opportunities were likely to be few and far between.
Juventus allowed City plenty of possession on the night and were quite happy to try and hit the Blues on the break. On the occasions City did penetrate the Italian’s back four, Zoff showed why he was perhaps the best keeper in the world at the time by producing two world class saves, one in particular, from Brian Kidd, was not dissimilar to Gordon Banks’ wondrous one handed stop against Pele in 1970. He also somehow tipped a Dennis Tueart effort onto the crossbar as City gave it their all.
Steadily, the longer the Italians resisted, the more the tie tipped in their favour. Tueart, Brian Kidd, Peter Barnes and Joe Royle all caused the visitors headaches in what was proving a bruising affair. But the score remained goalless until with seconds of the first half remaining, Kidd wrestled a yard of space to plant a firm header down to the left of Zoff following Tueart’s corner and Royle’s flick on.
The keeper had no chance. Maine Road erupted and it was no more than City deserved, plus the timing couldn’t have been better.
In the second half, the Italians’ mask slipped and they resorted to some cynical challenges aimed at stopping the Blues increasing their advantage. Barnes, always a threat, limped out of the game on the hour after several crunching tackles that would have earned straight red cards each time in today’s game. There was shirt pulling, sly digs and much feigning of injury. The Blues needed to keep their cool and in Asa Hartford, they had the perfect midfield general to hold things together. The Scotland International was outstanding, but the elusive second goal wouldn’t come.
At the final whistle, the Italians congratulated each other, knowing that a 1-0 defeat was, in effect, a moral victory and that the return leg would be an entirely different affair.
After the game, a confident Book boldly state: “I don’t say we will win in Italy, but we will do enough to qualify for the next round”.