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De Mistwedstrijd

De Mistwedstrijd
Event 1966–67 European Cup second round first leg
Date 7 December 1966
Venue Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam
Referee Antonio Sbardella (Italy)
Attendance 55,722

De Mistwedstrijd (Dutch pronunciation: [mɪst ˈʋɛt.strɛi̯t]) (English: "The Fog Match") was name given by the Dutch media, for the first leg of the second round of the 1966–67 European Cup, contested between AFC Ajax and Liverpool F.C.. The match was played dense fog, on 7 December 1966 at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam.[1] This match marked the rise of Ajax in international football, as they defeated Liverpool with a score of 5–1 at home. Goals from Cees de Wolf, Johan Cruijff, Henk Groot and a brace from Klaas Nuninga helped secure the win for Ajax, while Chris Lawler managed to score one goal for Liverpool in front of a sell-out crowd.[2] The spectators could not really see much of the match due to the fog's density and at times could only tell by the celebration of the team when a goal was scored. But the audience cheered their team on nonetheless, celebrating on this historic night.

In 2006, the match was commemorated in a broadcast of the television programme Andere Tijden.[3]


Liverpool's fortunes in the 1960s changed under manager Bill Shankly, having started the decade in the Football League Second Division and being crowned English champions in 1963–64, two seasons after promotion to the First Division, and won the FA Cup the season after. A few of Liverpool's players, including star striker Roger Hunt, were part of England's victorious World Cup campaign in 1966. Ajax were coming out of a struggling period at the time, having finished in 13th place in 1964–65, and the Netherlands national team had yet to convince on the international stage. The board of Ajax decided to hire Rinus Michels as the new coach of Ajax, after which the team started to show improvement. Both teams won their respective national league titles in 1965–66, enabling them to participate in the 1966–67 European Cup. While Ajax defeated Turkish powerhouse Beşiktaş J.K. in the first round of the tournament (2–0 and 2–1), Liverpool had beaten Petrolul Ploiești from Romania (2–0, 1–3 and 2–0), and both teams advanced to the second round of the tournament where they would face each other.[4] Liverpool were deemed the favourites to progress to the next round.

The first leg of the second round was played on 7 December 1966, when a thick fog covered the pitch and with mist covering most of Amsterdam, the match was played at the Olympic Stadium which served as a replacement for the club's De Meer Stadion, for matches which draw larger crowds. The deputising stadium is close to a large lake in De Oeverlanden Park, which makes the area highly susceptible to the foggy conditions that are frequent in the marshy Dutch capital. Many people questioned whether the match should even be held. Leo Horn and the referee during this match Antonio Sbardella held a discussion and decided not to cancel the event. Sbardella felt that both goals were visible enough, from the midfield line on which he stood, in order to carry out the game, with added pressure coming from Liverpool's manager to not postpone the match. A few days later, Liverpool were scheduled to face arch-rivals Manchester United, for which Shankly did not want to further delay the game. Ajax also wanted to play the match on the day, and did not want to disappoint the large turnout of loyal fans in attendance.[5]

The match went very differently then what Liverpool expected. After only three minutes of the game Cees de Wolf headed in the opening goal of the game, with an assist from Henk Groot.[6] Then the game was made hard by the frustrated English. Wim Suurbier was injured during the game, and Henk Groot as well, but since substitute players were not yet allowed the two had to keep playing in the game. Medical Salo Muller frequented the pitch for the duration of the match to take care of the injured players.[7] Without the referees knowledge, Sjaak Swart walked off the pitch after roughly 15 minutes of play, heading into the players tunnel towards the locker room as he thought he had heard the referee blow the whistle for half time. Board member Henk Hordijk stopped him, who made him realize that it was not half time yet. Swart ran back out on to the pitch, received the ball and immediately assisted the 4–0 off a header from Klaas Nuninga before half time. Liverpool started the second half well but were unable to score. Ajax scored their final goal of the match from injured Henk Groot, right after Liverpool managed to pull one back off of their defender Chris Lawler.[8][9]

Match details

7 December 1966 (1966-12-07)
Ajax 23x15px 5–1 23x15px Liverpool
De Wolf Goal 3'
Cruijff Goal 17'
Nuninga Goal 38'42'
Groot Goal 90'
Report Lawler Goal 89'
Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam
Attendance: 55,722
Referee: Antonio Sbardella (Italy)
GK 1 23x15px Gerrit Bals
RB 2 23x15px Wim Suurbier
CB 3 23x15px Tonnie Pronk
CB 4 23x15px Frits Soetekouw
LB 5 23x15px Theo van Duivenbode
CM 6 23x15px Bennie Muller
CM 7 23x15px Henk Groot (c)
RF 8 23x15px Sjaak Swart
CF 9 23x15px Johan Cruijff
CF 10 23x15px Klaas Nuninga
LF 11 23x15px Cees de Wolf
23x15px Rinus Michels
GK 1 23x15px Tommy Lawrence
RB 2 23x15px Chris Lawler
CB 3 23x15px Bobby Graham
CB 4 23x15px Tommy Smith
LB 5 23x15px Ron Yeats (c)
CM 6 23x15px Willie Stevenson
CM 7 23x15px Ian Callaghan
RF 8 23x15px Roger Hunt
CF 9 23x15px Ian St. John
CF 10 23x15px Geoff Strong
LF 11 23x15px Peter Thompson
23x15px Bill Shankly

Second leg

The football world was shocked by this result. A club from the small country of the Netherlands defeated the mighty Liverpool, reigning champions of England, the inventors of the game and the reigning world champions of the time. Manager Bill Shankly was still not impressed. He reportedly said that Ajax had not played well, and that Liverpool would defeat the Amsterdammers 7-0 at home and that Ajax would need to be carried off the pitch on stretchers. He went on to express how Ajax' first choice goalkeeper Gerrit Bals was not even good enough to play for his thirteenth squad. On the second leg of the series things came very differently than expected once more. Bals played on goal in the second match as Ajax played Liverpool to a 2-2 draw, winning the series 7-3 on aggregate. Ajax were later eliminated from the tournament in the quarter finals by Dukla Prague (1-1 and 1-2) as Celtic F.C. went on to win their first European Cup, but the match that no one forgot about, and no one could stop talking about was the Mistwedstrijd between Ajax and Liverpool.[10]


De Mistwedstrid is largely considered as a catalyst of sorts for the European and World success which followed in the late 1960s and early 1970s for Ajax Amsterdam. Johan Cruijff's confidence soared after the match against Liverpool, leading his club to a second straight Eredivisie title, scoring a league high 33 goals. Two seasons after the Fog Match, Ajax had reached the European Cup final, and only two years later lifted their first of three consecutive European Cups, completing a meteoric rise that is unrivaled in the history of the competition.[11] Johan Cruijff himself declared the match to have been pivotal to the club's success, and even declared the Mistwedstrijd the greatest match in which he ever took part.[12][13]

In conclusion, de Mistwedstrijd is a fascinating and important milestone in the development and history of the sport. Ajax rising as a European superpower would prove critical to the widespread adoption of their tactical theory Total Football.[14] Although Cruijff and the Netherlands national team were celebrated in the 1970s for popularizing the technique, it was Ajax who were the true flag bearers of the movement, similar to the way FC Barcelona would master the style of Tiki-taka years later.[15]

See also



  1. ^ "Mistwedstrijd Ajax - Liverpool bij Andere Tijden". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  2. ^ "Voetbal was even vrede". Cantenaccio. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  3. ^ "Andere tijden: De mistwedstrijd Ajax - Liverpool". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  4. ^ "De imposante carrière van Cruijff in 14 sprekende beelden". Voetbal International. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  5. ^ "Controverse Tussen Twee Steden". NU Sport. Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  6. ^ "Held van Mistwedstrijd overleden". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  7. ^ "Mistwedstrijd herleeft in Olympisch Stadion". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  8. ^ "Legendarische oud-Ajacied (65) overleden". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  9. ^ "De Ajacieden". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  10. ^ "De gouden generatie 1965-1974". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  11. ^ "de mistwedstrijd". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  12. ^ "Johan Cruyff Persoonlijk". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  13. ^ "Johan Cruijff Biografie". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  14. ^ "De Goeie Ouwe Tijd". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  15. ^ "Fotocollectie: Voetbal, Europacup I, seizoen 1966/1967, Ajax - Liverpool (uitslag 5-1). beter bekend als de "mistwedstrijd".". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 

External links

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