European Cup Winners' Cup Final
Wednesday 5 May 1991
Feyenoord Stadium, Rotterdam

(Koeman 79)
(Hughes 67, 74)

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14/12/2011 10:26, Report by Tony Bugby
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Irwin recalls Rotterdam

If United were to go all the way in the UEFA Europa League this season, it would complete a quartet of European honours for the club.

Legendary defender Denis Irwin helped to win the other three trophies while making 529 appearances for the Reds - the European Cup in 1999, the Super Cup in 1991 and, in what he recalls here as his favourite game, the Cup Winners' Cup, also 20 years ago...

“Most people would probably expect me to pick out that dramatic night in Barcelona when we beat Bayern Munich 1999 as my dream match, or maybe one of the games that proved crucial in capturing one of our Premier League titles. But, for me, the final of the European Cup Winners Cup in 1991 when we beat Barcelona was very special because it was the first trophy I won playing for United.

"It was my first year at the club and the first back in Europe for English teams following a five-year exile after the Heysel disaster. I had joined United in June 1990 so just missed out on the FA Cup win against Crystal Palace which handed Sir Alex his first piece of silverware as our manager. That success meant we qualified to play in the Cup Winners’ Cup, which was my first experience of European football.

"We came up against some unusual teams en route to the final, starting off against Hungarian side Pecsi Munkas and then facing Wrexham – you don’t expect to play them in European football! In the quarter-final we beat Montpellier, then overcame Polish side Legia Warsaw in the semi-final. Not the toughest route, but the final could not have been tougher. We were massive underdogs as Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona included legends like [Ronald] Koeman, [Michael] Laudrup and [Andoni] Goikoetxea, though striker [Hristo] Stoichkov was ruled out through injury – a massive blow for them.

"It was a horribly wet night but when we got to the game we were amazed to find two thirds of the stadium filled with our fans.We won through two great goals from Mark Hughes, the second of which was special. Koeman pulled a goal back but we held on, with Clayton Blackmore kicking one off the line

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