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Aston Villa and the 1983 European Cup

Aston Villa won the European Cup in 1982, but this week, we look at their defense of the trophy.

Christian Hofer

Aston Villa have played in the European Cup/Champions League two times. One of those times, they happened to win it. And as the winners in 1982, they got the chance to defend their trophy in the 1982-83 edition, despite not winning the English First Division. Since no one brings up the European Cup win of 1983, I think you probably know how that ended. But there was no shame in their effort.

Villa entered the 82-83 European Cup in the first round. And they wouldn't get an easy task in that first round, as they drew Turkish champions Besiktas. There weren't quite as many smaller countries' champions that took part in the competition back then, but there still were some. I admittedly know nothing about the 82-83 Avenir Beggen squad, but the champions of Luxembourg probably would've been an easier opponent than Besiktas. Villa hosted Besiktas in the first leg at Villa Park on September 15, 1982. The match could not have gotten off to a better start as goals from Peter Withe, Tony Morley and Dennis Mortimer had Villa up 3-0 within 30 minutes. Mehmet Eksi got one back in the 61st minute, meaning the return tie in Istanbul would have some drama to it. Villa kept a clean sheet away, sending them through to the second round 3-1 on aggregate.

In the second round, Villa were drawn against Dinamo Bucharest of Romania. Two Gary Shaw goals away in the first leg seemed to put away the tie, but that didn't stop the second leg at Villa Park from being a little nuts. Shaw started where he left off in Bucharest and scored a goal in the 5th minute. Dinamo answered back in the 30th, but Shaw would send Villa through drama-free with two more goals in the 52nd and 67th minutes. By the time the match finished, Villa had won 4-2 on the night and 6-2 on aggregate.

Villa were through to the quarterfinals. Their road wouldn't get any easier as they were matched up against Juventus. The first leg would take place at Villa Park on March 2. In the very first minute, Paolo Rossi scored to put Juventus in the lead. Villa would eventually get an equalizer as Gordon Cowans scored in the 53rd minute. As time ticked down, it looked like the match would be drawn and Villa would be at a slight disadvantage for the second leg. But then in the 82nd minute, the disadvantage became that much greater.  Zbigniew Boniek scored a heart-breaking late winner. The second leg in Turin sadly wouldn't go much better. Juve scored two goals in the first 30 minutes, pretty much ended any chance Villa had. After Juventus scored a third, Withe got a consolation goal in 81st minute. But that wouldn't be nearly enough and Villa were out. Juventus wound up going to the 1983 European Cup final where they lost 1-0 to Hamburg, thanks to a goal from noted crazy person Felix Magath.

Villa weren't able to repeat as European Cup winners, but they didn't go away easily.