Eindhoven, the city where Johan Cruyff played his final European tie for Barcelona
40 years ago, PSV Eindhoven denied Barcelona a place in the UEFA Cup final, beating the blaugranas 4-3 on aggregate in Cruyff's last European tie for the Catalans.
Wednesday 12 April 1978 will be remembered as the day when Johan Cruyff played his final game in European competition for Barcelona. It was the return leg of the UEFA Cup semi-final and PSV Eindhoven stood in the way of a place in the final - a chance for Johan to bid farewell lifting a continental trophy. PSV went into the game holding a 3-0 advantage from the first leg in Holland and but were able to hang on and book their place in the final despite losing 3-1 to Rinus Michels' team at Camp Nou.
Cruyff was the chief protagonist of a tie which PSV played as though they were taking on archenemies Ajax. Barça's Dutch contigent - coach Rinus Michels, Johan Neeskens and Cruyff only made the atmosphere at Philips Stadion even more infernal. At the end of the tie, Barcelona's coach complained that the rivals had "chased Cruyff like a pack of hunting dogs throughout both games"; PSV coach Kees Rijvers retorted by describing the national idol as “an accomplished penalty area thespian - a virtuoso in the art of provoking penalties”.
The atmosphere in the first leg was one of the most hostile Cruyff had experienced durting his career in Europe and was relentlessly whistled every time he received the ball. Not that he was spent much time on it - Barça were completely outclassed by the hosts and were beaten 3-0. To make matters worse, Neeskens went into the book and would be suspended for the return leg in Spain.
So they had it all to do a fortnight later at Camp Nou, where Barça had overturned an identical result to beat Bobby Robson's Ipswich Town in the shoot-out after a memorable performance from Cruyff at Camp Nou whose two goals levelled the tie and Peio Artola became immortalised as "Sant Artola gloriós" for saving two penalties.
After having knocked out Aston Villa in the previous round, Barcelona believed a miracle was within reach and they could turn the PSV tie around; 20 minutes into the game, they were 2-0 up through Charly Rexach's opener and a penalty given for a foul on Cruyff, and transformed by Paco Fortes.
But moments into the second half, Nick Deacy, with his first touch, pulled one back for the visitors, making the Blaugranas' task nigh on impossible. Rexach grabbed another from the penalty spot after another foul on Johan but it wasn't enough to stop their Dutch opponents, led by twins Willy and Rene van der Kerkhof, advancing to the final where they would win their first European trophy beating Bastia over two legs. As for Cruyff, it was his last appearance in Europe for Barça and just a few weeks later he would play his final game for the club, against Valencia at Camp Nou.