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Our Trnava European final

Vladan Milojević’s team will host Slovakia’s FC Spartak Trnava in the UEFA Champions League Third Qualifying Round on Tuesday. There is no doubt it will be an important game for both clubs, but let us remember the time we met Spartak in a European final.
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Mitropa Cup, or Central European Cup as it was also called, was a competition that was held 51 times, on and off, between 1927 and 1992. Played under various names, it featured clubs from former Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, as well as Italy, Austria, Hungary and Romania. 
 
Crvena zvezda won the competition twice, in 1958 and in 1968. It was in October 1968 that we met Spartak Trnava in a two-legged final and defeated then-Czechoslovakian club 4-2 on aggregate.
 
Zvezda had beaten Diósgyőri VTK Miskolc, TJ Internacionál Slovnaft Bratislava (now Inter Bratislava) and Újpesti Dózsa Sport Club (now Újpest FC) on the road to final.
 
The final itself wasn’t easy, though, as Spartak Trnava won the first leg 1-0. Crvena zvezda faced a difficult challenge against a side that hadn’t lost a single game in the competition thus far, eliminating AS Roma, FK Željezničar and FK Vardar.
 
The return leg on 23 October 1968 drew a large crowd to Marakana that was build just five years earlier.
 
Crvena zvezda, managed by legendary Miljan Miljanić took the lead when Vojin Lazarević poked the ball home from close range on 35 minutes to level the score on aggregate. But Spartak Trnava again proved a very strong and determined side as they made it 1-1 just four minutes later through Ladislav Kuna, the man who would go on to become club legend and Chairman from 2006 until his death in 2012.
 
Zvezda were left with 45 minutes and a one-goal deficit. They kept pressing and broke the visitors down with a devastating 12-minute spell in the middle of the second half that has seen Stevan Ostojić, Zoran Antonijević and Vojin Lazarević score to make it 4-1 on the day and 4-2 on aggregate.
 
Spartak Trnava couldn’t muster another comeback and Mitropa Cup remained in Belgrade. It was a great season for Red Star, who won an impressive treble that year: the national championship, the cup and Mitropa Cup.
 
Spartak Trnava showed just how good they are the following season, when they reached the European Cup semi final, losing narrowly to Ajax Amsterdam despite winning 2-0 in the first leg of that tie.

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