Liverpool vs Dynamo Bucharest 1984 European Cup Semi Final
The 1983-84 UEFA European Cup Semi-Final between Liverpool of England and Dinamo Bucharest of Romania was one of two association football ties that made up the penultimate round of the 1983–84 European Cup, Europe's primary club football competition. Liverpool, who had won the competition three times, were appearing in their fifth semi-final, while it was Dinamo Bucharest's first and only appearance at this stage of the competition. The other semi-final in the competition that year was contested between Dundee United and Roma. Liverpool won the tie 3–1 on aggregate, and went on to be crowned European champions after beating Roma in the final. The tie has been described as one of Liverpool's "finest hours", in the face of "bitterly effective opposition" from Dinamo.
The tie consisted of two legs – the first held at Anfield in Liverpool on 11 April 1984, and the second two weeks later at 23 August Stadium in Bucharest. The matches are remembered for their highly physical and confrontational nature, which climaxed in the Liverpool player Graeme Souness being subjected to repeated severe abuse and intimidation before and during the second leg, after he had injured the Bucharest captain Lică Movilă in the first match at Anfield. Souness withstood the various forms of intimidation, however, and was given the man-of-the-match award in Bucharest. In 2010 The Times wrote, "Souness is still remembered in the Romanian capital for a display of incredible grit and fortitude in the face of naked hostility from the players of Dynamo Bucharest, who were hell-bent on exacting revenge on the Scotsman for an uppercut that broke their own captain's jaw".
A number of Liverpool players who played in the games have since written at length about the physical aspects of the tie; in his 2009 autobiography Ian Rush wrote, "our games against Dinamo were the most brutal of my entire career", while in his autobiography Kenny Dalglish wrote, "I can honestly say that I have never been in such a war zone as this confrontation with Dinamo Bucharest".
Liverpool was attempting to win its fourth European Cup in seven seasons, and were also the reigning English champions, having won the English league during the 1982–83 season, so qualifying for the 1983–84 European Cup. They had also already won the League Cup earlier in the season, and were on course for an unprecedented treble of trophies under new manager Joe Fagan, who had succeeded Bob Paisley at the start of the season. Over two legs Liverpool had beaten Odense, Athletic Bilbao, and Benfica to progress to the semi-final.
Dinamo Bucharest gained entry to the competition by winning the 1982–83 Romanian football Liga I championship and thus becoming Romanian champions. They had defeated Kuusysi, Hamburg (the defending European champions) and Dinamo Minsk to reach the semi-final. It remains Dinamo Bucharest's only appearance at this stage of the competition.
Route to the semi-final
|Round||Opponents||First leg||Second leg||Aggregate score|
|1st||Odense,||1–0 (a)||5–0 (h)||6–0|
|2nd||Athletic Bilbao||0–0 (h)||1–0 (a)||1–0|
|Quarter-final||Benfica||1–0 (h)||4–1 (a)||5–1|
Liverpool were drawn against Danish champions Odense in the first round, winning the tie comfortably 6–0 on aggregate. In the second round Liverpool were drawn against Spanish champions Athletic Bilbao. The first leg at Anfield ended in a 0–0 draw, but Liverpool won the return leg at the San Mamés Stadium 1–0, courtesy of an Ian Rush goal in the sixty-sixth minute, to win the tie 1–0 on aggregate. In the quarter-finals Liverpool played Portuguese champions Benfica, managed by Sven Goran Eriksson. The first leg at Anfield was won 1–0 by Liverpool; in the second leg, played at the Estádio da Luz, Benfica's home ground, Liverpool prevailed by a score of 4–1, to take the tie 5–1 on aggregate.
|Round||Opponents||First leg||Second leg||Aggregate score|
|1st||Kuusysi||0–1 (a)||3–0 (h)||4–0|
|2nd||Hamburg||3–0 (h)||2–3 (a)||5–3|
|Quarter-final||Dinamo Minsk||1–1 (a)||1–0 (h)||2–1|
Dinamo Bucharest's opponents in the first round were Finnish champions Kuusysi. Dinamo Bucharest won the first leg 1–0 away and the second leg 3–0 at home, thus winning the round 4–0 on aggregate. The Romanians' opponents in the second round were reigning European champions Hamburg. The first leg, which was played in Bucharest, was won by Dinamo 3–0. The second leg was played at Hamburg’s home ground Volksparkstadion; Hamburg won the match 3–2, ("Dinamo ruined their [Hamburg's] evening with two goals in the last five minutes to send the holders crashing out at the first hurdle") which meant that Bucharest took the tie 5–3 on aggregate. Dinamo Bucharest's opponents in the quarter-finals were Soviet champions Dinamo Minsk. The first leg, played in Minsk, ended in a 1–1 draw. The second leg, played in Bucharest, was a close contest, but Dinamo Bucharest won 1–0 to take the tie 2–1 on aggregate.
The semi-final between Liverpool and Dinamo Bucharest was held over two legs in Liverpool and Bucharest, on 11 April 1984 and 25 April 1984, respectively. It was the first meeting between the two clubs.
Liverpool won the first leg, which was part of a record nine-match home-winning sequence in Europe for the club, by the narrow margin of 1–0 after midfielder Sammy Lee scored "with a rare header" in the twenty-fifth minute. Bucharest nearly scored a late equaliser when a shot by Ionel Augustin beat Bruce Grobbelaar only to hit the post. The first leg was "marred by repeated fouling by the Romanians". Liverpool secured a great advantage early on in the return leg when striker Ian Rush scored an away goal (and his one hundredth goal for Liverpool) in the eleventh minute, leaving the Romanian champions needing three goals to win the tie thanks to the away goals rule. Bucharest striker Costel Orac scored in the thirty-ninth minute, but the tie was effectivley killed off in the eighty-fourth minute when Rush scored a second goal. After the match Joe Fagan commented: "I'm proud of the way my players helped and sustained each other when things might have gone wrong. They didn't seem to have any nerves."
Ian Rush, writing in 2007
The matches between the two teams are chiefly remembered for being highly physical in nature. The first leg at Anfield was described by Ian Rush in 2008 as follows: "Nothing prepared us for the way they applied themselves at Anfield. The Dinamo players hacked and kicked at us from start to finish, so much so we seemed to spend most of the game leaping in the air to avoid late or over-the-top tackles. I was punched, elbowed and spat at so many times that at the end of the game my shirt was covered in spit".
The physical and aggressive nature of the Anfield encounter reached a peak in the seventieth minute, when the Liverpool midfield player and captain Graeme Souness knocked out in an off the ball incident his Bucharest counterpart Lică Movilă, breaking the Romanian's jaw in two places. There are conflicting accounts of events leading up to the altercation.
Of the incident Alan Kennedy wrote in his autobiography in 2005: "As this guy turned away to play a one-two, Graeme turned right into him and caught him with a beautiful right cross, smack on the jaw. It pole-axed the guy. He went down flat but the play went on. The referee didn't see it. No one really saw it. That was the end of Movilă, who was stretchered off with a broken jaw". In 2010 Kenny Dalglish wrote: "As the clock hit 70 minutes, Graeme hit Movilă. The ball was going out for a throw-in, everyone was looking out wide, so Graeme just punched Movila. The Romanian never saw it coming and the referee and linesmen certainly never saw it. I understand that Movila has since said his team-mates initially thought he was lying on the ground play-acting". Rush described the incident as follows: "Everyone seemed to be engaged in, quite literally, a running battle with their opposite number, no-one more so than Graeme with Movilă. Their heated exchanges boiled over on several occasions and, eventually, exploded. Graeme challenged Movilă for the ball, there was a tussle, which ended with Graeme winning the ball and playing it forward. As Graeme began to move forward Movilă had a go. Through the corner of his eye Graeme saw it coming and instinctively ducked, but the blow caught him on the temple. Movilă had picked on the wrong guy. Graeme swung around and let him have a haymaker. Movilă immediately hit the ground like a bag of spanners. We were mounting an attack so neither the referee or the linesman saw the incident, which was just as well. When play was eventually stopped, Movilă still hadn't moved. He was taken from the field and treated by medics, who discovered that his jaw was broken".
In an interview in 2009, Souness himself described the episode as follows: "Occasionally I'd get a man marker in matches – if it wasn't Kenny [Dalglish] being marked, it would be me instead. This particular guy was following me everywhere on the pitch, pulling my shirt and I just got frustrated. We were winning 1-0 at the time, attacking the Kop end, and he was tugging on my shirt as I was running into the area, so I did a foolish thing – I swung round and punched him. The referee didn't see it and I got away with it." The incident has drawn strong criticism from Graham Spiers, who in September 2002 described Movilă as "the most overlooked of all Souness's victims", and in November 2002 Spiers wrote, "Lica Movila (Dinamo Bucharest). The most overlooked of all the Souness hatchet-jobs. In the semi-final of the 1983 European Cup, and behind the referee's back, Souness actually broke Movila's jaw in two places before the Romanian was carted from the field in agony". In 2011, Henry Winter described Souness's verbal evisceration (as a pundit) of Carlos Tévez as "doing to Tévez what he did to a Dinamo Bucharest player in the 1984 European Cup semi-final".
The return leg was highly charged as a result of the Movilă incident, and Souness became a target of abuse and threats, not only from the capacity 60,000 crowd in the 23 August Stadium and the Bucharest team on the pitch, but also from policemen, stewards, and airport officials in the city; Alan Hansen wrote in his autobiography, "On our arrival in Romania, even the soldiers at the airport had no compunction about drawing his attention to it [the Movilă incident], with gestures that indicated that Graeme could expect to leave the country on a stretcher". One journalist has written that Souness had to "run a gauntlet of hate" in the Romanian capital.
The Liverpool Post, 2010
Rush described the second leg as "enough to make your blood curdle", Hansen has stated that it was "the most hostile atmosphere any of us had ever known", while Dalglish wrote, "I was well aware that open warfare had been declared by Dinamo, and the 60,000 crammed into the 23 August Stadium screamed for Movilă to be avenged. From the first whistle, Dinamo players took it in turns on Graeme. One Romanian tried to top him, another caught him so hard that his dented shinpads were visible through ripped socks". In 2009, Souness described events on the pitch during the second leg as follows:
"In the return game in Romania, there was a lot of publicity about how unhappy Dinamo were with me. There were 60,000 people in the stadium and all the banners were about what they thought should happen to me. However, I think I played one of my best games ever for Liverpool that night. I remember as we pulled up to the stadium, the guards were putting their fingers up to their eyes and pretending to pull them out. It's fair to say there was a lot of anger directed at me that night. I remember lining up in the centre circle and one of their midfield players, who was quite an aggressive guy, pointed at me and motioned as if to say, 'It's you and I tonight.' So I put my thumb up to him and said, 'Yeah okay, I'm looking forward to it.' We won 2–1 on the night, but I think the worst thing we could have done was get that second goal because after that, three or four of their players must have thought to themselves, 'We're going out, but let's see if we can nail him.' However, I was a vastly experienced player at the time. I was 30-years-old, and I managed to avoid all the challenges that came my way".
The Liverpool Echo wrote in 2009, "Unfazed by it all, Souness relished the abuse and let his feet do the talking, this time with a man-of-the-match display to help Liverpool win 2–1 and reach the final", while The Official Liverpool FC Illustrated History records that, "By full time his [Souness's] socks were torn to shreds, his shin pads split, and his legs bruised from top to bottom". In 2011, a group of Liverpool supporters reminiscing on the club's official website about the 1983–84 European campaign described the backs of Souness's socks at the final whistle as being "in ribbons".
The club's official website in 2010 wrote, "with every boo, whistle and jeer, the Reds skipper grew in stature and orchestrated proceedings as a place in the final was memorably secured".
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- Detailed account of the tie on Liverpool's official website
- 1983–84 season (UEFA.com)
- Dinamo's route to the semi-final (UEFA.com)
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