UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1997/98
It was a wonderful night in Stockholm for Chelsea supporters when Gianluca Vialli's men overcame the German side Stuttgart to win our first European trophy since 1971.
In a final on a poor pitch in which neither side created too many clear-cut opportunities, it was always going to take something special to make the difference.
Vialli had named Gianfranco Zola as one of our substitutes, and when the diminutive Italian was introduced to the action in the 69th minute, it took only 20 seconds for him to make his mark, collecting Dennis Wise's flighted pass and smashing an unstoppable drive into the top corner to send the Chelsea hordes in the Rasundastadion delirious.
Zola's impact on the game was all the more impressive taking into account the fact that a groin strain he picked up prior to the final was expected to rule him out altogether, but his desire and determination to play a part in such a prestigious occasion enabled him to make the bench and eventually win the game for his side.
Dan Petrescu's dismissal late in the game ensured it was an uncomfortable final few minutes, but a first European trophy in 27 years, not to mention a third trophy in the space of 12 months, meant we really were back in the big time.
A 4-0 aggregate win over Slovan Bratislava had kicked off the campaign back in September, with Danny Granville scoring a memorable goal in the first leg at Stamford Bridge.
The first leg of the second round match against Norwegian side Tromso will be remembered mostly for the unbelievable snowy conditions it was played in and, having lost 3-2, Vialli's men progressed comfortably in the end, winning the return 7-1.
The quarter-final draw saw us paired with Spanish side Real Betis and a Tore Andre Flo brace in Spain helped us to a 2-1 win. After going behind at Stamford Bridge, goals from Frank Sinclair, Roberto Di Matteo and Zola made it a 5-2 aggregate win and a semi-final against Vicenza.
As an attacking force, we seldom troubled the Italians in the first leg and lost the match 1-0. The return at Stamford Bridge began badly as we went behind in the first half. Gustavo Poyet, in his first start after a cruciate injury, pulled one back prior to the break before Zola levelled the tie with a stunning header from Vialli's cross.
With time running out, and the Blues on the verge of elimination courtesy of the away-goals rule, Mark Hughes produced a majestic trademark left-footed finish to spark pandemonium inside Stamford Bridge and a scramble for flights to Sweden.