This day in football history
On 10 March 1971, Cardiff City delivered the shock of the season and one of the club’s most famous victories, upsetting Real Madrid 1–0.
The two teams met in the quarterfinals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Cardiff, who were then in Division Two, qualified by winning the previous season’s Welsh Cup. They weren’t strangers to the competition, having participated in it four previous times, including an impressive run in 1967–68 that ended with a semifinal loss to Hamburg.
In 1970–71, the Bluebirds flew through the first two rounds, advancing past Pezoporikos Larnacas (8–0 agg.) and Nantes (7–2 agg.) to set up their date with then six-time European Cup champions Real Madrid.
Playing before a crowd of approximately 50,000 at Cardiff’s Ninian Park, the hosts attacked the visitors with a blend of tenacity and quickness. They were rewarded in the 31st minute, when a surge down the left side resulted in a cross that was headed home powerfully by striker Brian Clark. Not content to sit on the lead, Cardiff continued to attack and Real Madrid were fortunate to escape with a narrow 1–0 loss.
Madrid won the second leg 2–0 to advance, eventually finishing as runners-up to Chelsea, but the first-leg victory remains one of football’s greatest upsets.