Everton 3 Rapid Vienna 1
Everton, the newly crowned kings of English football, are now the kings of Europe.
Howard Kendall’s glorious side swept majestically to a first ever European title amid euphoric scenes of uncontained joy in Rotterdam last night
A team which 18 months ago appeared to be heading nowhere, but now has the world at its feet, comfortably added the Cup Winners Cup to the League Championship they clinched just 10 days ago, to keep alive the dream of a staggering treble.
They now train their sights on Wembley and perhaps the greatest test of all – an FA Cup Final showdown with Manchester United.
Everton quite simply took bewildered Rapid apart at the seams to prove conclusively that absolutely nothing is beyond them.
The Austrians were totally outclassed.
Everton, driven on by the prospect of eclipsing the enormous success of neighbours Liverpool, ran them ragged with the stylish and purposeful football which has hallmarked a quite remarkable season.
After a prolonged spell of honour they reluctantly left the field to cries of: “We’re going to win the lot!” – I for one would not argue with the sentiments of a massive travelling army.
Exactly how these two poles apart sides found themselves walking from the field on level terms at half-time will remain a mystery for some time. Everton, who have adapted their bustling domestic style to suit the European game with admirable ease, had an embarrassingly high percentage of possession.
Rapid, with several notable scalps already claimed en route to Rotterdam, proved to be timid pussycats and not the ferocious man eaters the Goodison youngsters had been warned to expect.
They appeared to be totally overawed by the prospect of meeting the English champions.
Unsure at the back and reluctant to venture out of their own half they simply sat back attempting to weather a ferocious onslaught which was near ceaseless.
Faced with practically no resistance it was hardly surprising that Everton drifted into the now familiar pattern of midfield dominance within minutes of the kick-off.
Peter Reid and Paul Bracewell enjoyed so much time and space they must have been tempted to count the Rapid players to ensure they had fielded a full side.
If possession was lost, it was quickly regained as the punchless Austrians floundered in their half-hearted attempts to stem a blue tide which always threatened to swamp them.
Everton thought they had finally smashed the deadlock after 39 minutes when Derek Mountfield rose to meet Sheedy’s free-kick and set up Gray. The Scottish striker fired home but referee Casarin had noticed a waving flag.
It was exactly 27 minutes before Neville Southall was called upon to make any sort of save – and that was from a 50 yards Trevor Steven backpass.
Words were obviously spoken in the Rapid dressing room at half-time, they immediately burst into life and for five minutes it appeared we had a match on our hands.
Lainer’s shot from the left took a wicked deflection off Pat Van Den Hauwe and cannoned off the top of the crossbar, but that in effect was Rapid’s sole attacking contribution until they snatched an undeserved consolation goal late on.
The breakthrough which had eluded Everton finally arrived in the 57th minute when the team which came to win killed off the side which came to avoid defeat.
Lainer’s backpass was short, Sharp latched onto it in a flash, turned Konsel inside out and chipped into the centre where Gray brilliantly kept his cool to shoot home unchallenged.
Steven was superbly denied by Konsel before the match was placed beyond Rapid’s reach in the 72nd minute. Sheedy’s corner from the right was flicked on by Sharp, Mountfield ducked and after the ball had eldued the outstretched legs of three defenders Steven arrived at the far post to volley home sweetly.
Totally against the run of play the Austrians hit back with five minutes remaining when veteran striker Johann Krankl rounded Southall to slot home easily.
Undaunted Everton hit back straight away from the kick-off, tearing forward to expose a flat-footed defence which had charged forward ro seek an equaliser.
Sharp fed Sheedy out on the left and the Eire international made no mistake from 12 yards, firing high into the roof of the net to officially open the celebrations.