In what turned out to be another famous European night at dens park despite the outcome favouring our opposition over two legs, Dundee beat Italian giant's AC Milan 2-0 in the UEFA cup 3rd round return match in the competitions inaugural season.
The Dark Blues had been well beaten 3-0 in the first leg at the San Siro so it was always going to be an uphill task but the home side certainly made it a nervy occasion for the Rossoneris.
Gianni Rivera gave Milan the lead after only fourteen minutes into the 1st leg and they would double it just five minutes into the second half when George Stewart turned the ball into his own net. The victory was all but wrapped up when Romeo Benetti netted AC Milan’s third goal with twenty minutes left to play.
A crowd of 15,500 turned up at Dens Park on the 8th December 1971 in the hope that their heroes could do the unbelievable and knock the Italians out of the cup. In attendance that night also hoping to see Dundee defy the odds was former League winning manager Bob Shankly.
Dundee would go ahead on the 38th minute when a Duncan Lambie cross was headed home by Gordon Wallace. Dundee would continue to look for the equaliser but despite the pressure they were applying to their opponents, the Dark Blues would find it hard to make another break through against a defence who would only concede seventeen goals in the league that season.
Of course, it wasn’t just the Italians lineage of quality defending that kept Dundee at bay, it was also the blatant time-wasting tactics that they resorted to with the Dee ramping up the pressure.
We would score another goal with sixteen minutes left on the clock when Duncan Lambie’s long-range drive struck the post and then fell into the path of John Duncan who slotted home the rebound to make It 2-0 and set up a grandstand finish.
The home side would push for the goal that would take the tie into extra-time but despite a frantic last ten minutes for Milan, they were able to see out the tie to win 3-2 on aggregate and book their spot in the Quarter Finals to face Belgium side Lierse S.K. who they would beat 3-1 over both legs.
This would set up a semi-final clash with eventual winners Tottenham Hotspur who would defeat the Italian side with a certain Alan Gilzean (who previously faced Milan during our run to the European Cup Semi-Final back in 1962-63) in their side.
Even though the end of the night had seen another European campaign come to an end for Dundee, the crowd gave the players a standing ovation as they left the pitch after they had served up a performance that if we had struck earlier, could very well have went on to get the result that would have seen us and not Milan get our hats into the draw for the next round.
This win however continued our undefeated streak at home in Europe since our maiden campaign in 1962/63. We had gone twelve games without a loss at home and this was our tenth victory at Dens against some of Europe’s finest teams.
This tie also signalled AC Milan’s second visit to Dens Park and just like the first one, they would fail to score on our turf and taste defeat. Of course, on both encounters, the results at the San Siro would give us an uphill battle and eventually be the results that got them through.
Still, isn’t nice to say that a team who have been champions of Europe seven times have played twice at Dens, lost twice and failed to score.
Dundee Line Up
Hewitt, B.Wilson, Houston, Steele, Philip, Stewart, Duncan, Lambie, Wallace, J.Scott (80), J.Wilson (46)
Subs: Johnston (46), I.Scott (80)
AC Milan line Up
Cudicini, Sabadini, Zignoli, Anquilletti, Schnellinger, Biasiolo, Sogliano, Benetti, Bigon (46), Rivera, Prati
Subs: Villa (46)