In 1960, Barcelona was one of the biggest teams in Europe and surely they were considered to be the ultimate favorite to be the next European Champions, especially since they had beaten the holders Real Madrid very early in the second round. Barcelona became the first team to avoid defeat in Madrid in the competition's history (a 2-2 draw), and in the second leg they achieved a 2-1 triumph at Camp Nou. Further victories, over SK Hradec Kralove in the quarter-finals and Hamburger SV in the semis (albeit after a replay), then sealed the Catalan side's status as favourites for winning the 1961 European Cup. Barcelona's star players were three Hungarians, Ladislao Kubala, a tremendous dribbler, Sandor Kocsis and Zoltan Czibor together with the fast Brasilian forward Evaristo de Macedo, and the creative Luis Suarez. Experienced goalkeeper on the back Antonio Ramallets was the captain of Barcelona, the goalkeeper of the team who was also Spain's goalkeeper. Barcelona's European performance was substantial since they had won the Inter-Cities Fair's Cup twice.
In previous years, clubs from Portugal did not manage to go past the first round of Champions' Cup. Therefore, reaching the final was already a huge achievement and a shock to European fans. This season, Benfica had enjoyed comfortable wins against Ujpesti TE, AGF Arhus and SK Rapid Wien before reaching the final. Benfica's Hungarian manager Bela Guttmann, quickly transformed Benfica to a very competitive club. Guttmann was given carte blanche by the wealthy president of Benfica Vieira de Brito to sign any players he wished to reinforce the team. However, Guttmann only bought two players, defender Germano Luis de Figueiredo and winger Jose Augusto. Jose Augusto soon became one of the best right wingers in Europe. Giant Alberto Pereira was defending the goal posts, Germano was in the back, Mozambique born Mario Coluna in the midfield, while Jose Aguas was responsible for goal scoring. Jose Aguas had already scored ten goals this season in Europe and was certainly a major threat for Barcelona defense. Still Benfica was regarded as clear outsiders for the final.
On May 31st 1961, 50,000 spectators flocked to Bern’s Wankdorf Stadium to watch the sixth European Cup final. The match kicked off and it was quickly clear who was the favorite. Barcelona were confident and quickly took control of the game. They started pounding on Benfica's post with the Portuguese trying to stand the pressure. They managed to do so until the 21st minute. Kocsis gave the lead to Barcelona through a header after a cross from Suarez from the right. Benfica did not panic and ten minutes later, they attacked from the left. Ramallets, the experienced Barcelona goalkeeper missed to grab the ball coming from a Domiciano Cavem cross, thus letting his post unprotected and Aguas who received the ball only needed to push it into Barcelona's empty net. Benfica had leveled the score but more was about to come. Minutes later, a horrendous blunder by Barcelona goalkeeper Ramallets gifted Benfica the lead. Benfica players managed to turn the match completely upside down and were now boosted with confidence. They totally controlled the pace of the match over a psychologically devastated Barcelona side. At half time the Portuguese managed to retain their lead.
During halftime everybody believed that Barcelona would quickly pull themselves together and they would manage to produce the quality performance they were capable of in order to come back from behind. Reality though soon proved them wrong when Coluna scored shortly after the break to expand the lead by three goals to one. That goal was the wakeup call for Barcelona players. From that moment on, Barcelona's star players took control of the match, dominated the pitch and started firing on Benfica's goal posts. Pereira, the Portugeuse goalkeeper was exceptional that day, stopping Barcelona players with some magnificent saves. Luck also seemed to be on Benfica's side, since a Kocsis header in the 67th minute hit the post. Fifteen minutes before time Czibor scored a second goal for Barcelona with a long-range shot outside the box. Barcelona was now full on the attack. Benfica, were desparately defending and Barcelona were all around the pitch. Until the final whistle, Barcelona were twice denied by the woodwork and many more times by Benfica's outstanding goalkeeper who pulled off amazing saves. Despite the pressure and the efforts by Barcelona players the score did not change. Benfica won 3-2 and they were the new European Champions. Benfica president, Mauricio Vieira de Brito, suffered a heart attack during the second half of the thrilling match.
Benfica winning the European Cup was a shock for European football fans. Benfica became only the second team in history to win the trophy. After Real Madrid's five consecutive wins of the tournament, the Portuguese champions were a nice surprise to European football. The mantle of power moved from one Iberian capital to another, Lisbon. The challenge lying ahead for the Eagles of Lisbon now, was to prove that this great victory against Spanish giant Barcelona was not just a firework in the air. Right away, next season, Benfica should defend their title and establish themselves among the top football forces in Europe.