The 1/8 finals were more shocking: it looked like a lot of clubs were in poor shape, desperately trying to keep afloat, but really in decline. Hajduk (Split) barely qualified and there opponents were not a name to recon with: the small Hungarian club Diosgyori VTK troubled Hajduk to penalty shoot-out. So did Univeritatea (Craiova) to Dinamo (Moscow). On the other hand there were two pairs deserving to play at the final, not at early stage – but draws play cruel jokes often. FC Porto vs Manchester United ended with new surprise: the English were destroyed at Porto 0-4! The second leg they did whatever possible to no avail: United won 5-2 and Porto qualified. Attractive matches, though – lots of goals, open attacking football – fans love that. Well, Porto's fans at the end. But this was nothing compared to Hamburger SV vs Anderlecht. Only a few months ago these teams played at the final for the same cup. Hamburger SV prevailed 2-0, winning the Cup, which Anderlecht won in 1976. Not only the most recent winners met, but the final of 1977 was repeating – one can imagine the desire for revenge, the desire to best again already beaten opponent. And both clubs were in great shape, full of excellent players ranking among the very best in Europe. Keegan vs Haan and Rensenbrink - should be enough said. Anderlecht took sweet revenge in Hamburg, clinching 2-1 victory. Advantage, but against Germans what could be an advantage? Back in Brussels, the hosts survived a 1-1 tie – enough to eliminate the current Cup holders!
Lady Luck was cruel in the ¼ finals as well: arguably, there were only two really impressive teams reaching this stage – and they had to face each other. Porto vs Anderlecht. Porto won at home 1-0, but the Belgians were really in top form – and anyway the stronger team – crushing 3-0 victory. Meantime, Twente had no trouble with Vejle BK: the Danes reached so far mostlt thanks to lucky draws . Now they faced reality: 0-3 and 0-4. Real Betis in theory had rather similar opponent in Dinamo (Moscow), but only in theory: the Russians managed a scoreless tie in Sevilla. Because of the weather, Soviet clubs normally played their early spring international games far away from home – in Tbilisi. But lacking home pitch did not stop them – 3-0 and there was no more Spaniards. The last pair proved toughest – Austria (Vienna) vs Hajduk (Split). Two 1-1 ties, nothing in overtime, the Austrians luckier in the penalty shoot-out. May be not luckier – Hajduk did not score a single penalty! Austria did not miss any meantime.
Anderlecht and Twente seemed the best teams reaching the ½ finals – and once again the draw was cruel... Usually, matches between Dutch and Belgian clubs are tough and unpredictable. No exception this time, although the result is misleading – Anderlecht won both matches. 1-0 in Enschede and 2-0 in Brussels. Twente did not score a goal, but to beat them was not easy at all. Still, Anderlecht had stronger – or at least more famous – team. Dinamo (Moscow) vs Austria (Vienna) – a third chance for a Soviet club to play at Cup Winners Cup final; a second chance for Dinamo to play at the final of same tournament and may be to win it this time. Traditionally, Austria was beatable opponent. They were not all that strong so far, may be reaching the ½ finals thanks to good luck rather than strong play. However, Dinamo was not great either – a fading team since the beginning of the 1970s. Good squad, yet suspect one, not exceptional. Like Austria, the Russians reached that far mostly because of lucky draws... Both teams were ambitious, of course, and fought with determination. Neither had an edge – Dinamo won 2-1 at home, but lost 1-2 in Vienna. No goals in overtime and penalty shoot-out again – and again the Austrians won 5-4.
So, a final between Anderlecht and Austria. Frankly, this was the easiest opponent for Anderelcht in their all three consecutive finals. Austria was not neither West Ham United, not Hamburger SV.
Vercauteren shoots and the Austrians either watch, or try to keep away from the ball.
It was almost a walkover – Anderlecht finished the final in the first half, ending with 3-goals lead. One more was added in the second half for good measure. Rensenbrink scored the first two goals, but may be to show how dominant Anderlecht really was to future generations, the last two goals were scored by the right full-back van Binst.
Final, Parc des Princes, Paris, 3 May 1978, att 48679
RSC Anderlecht (3) 4 Austria/WAC (0) 0
13' 1-0 And: Rensenbrink
41' 2-0 And: Rensenbrink
45' 3-0 And: Van Binst
80' 4-0 And: Van Binst
De Bree; Van Binst, Thissen, Dusbaba, Broos; Van der Elst, Haan,
Nielsen, Coeck, Vercauteren (Dockx); Rensenbrink
Baumgartner; R.Sara, J.Sara, Obermayer, Baumeister; Prohaska,
Daxbacher (Martinez), Gasselich, Morales (Drazen); Pirkner, Parits
There was little doubt who was going to lift the Cup long before the end of the final. Here is van Binst, number 2, just scoring the third goal. His first. Perhaps one should add only that Anderlecht were really powerful playing in white – there reserve colours. Curiously, the 1978 finalists had same colours – violet and white. Violet did not help Austria at all.