Celtic had entered one of the three major European competitions for the first time in season 1962-63, when they had found Valencia too talented in the opening round of the Fairs Cities Cup, losing 6-2 on aggregate.
In the following season of 1963-64, the club took part in the Cup-Winners’ Cup and started brightly, beating Basle of Switzerland in round one (5-1 (A); 5-0 (H)) and Dinamo Zagreb from Yugoslavia in round two (3-0 (H): 1-2 (A)). Those good results put Celtic into the quarter-finals, where Slovan Bratislava of Czechoslovakia were the opponents and on 26th February 1964, a crowd of 53,000 turned up at Parkhead for the first leg of the tie, which Celtic won by a single goal scored by Bobby Murdoch from the penalty spot.
On this day in 1964, 30,000 were present in the Tehelne Pole Stadium for the return leg, with the home support very confident of going through, boosted by the very successful tour of South America Slovan Bratislava had just completed. However, Celtic – on the night represented by Fallon, Young, Gemmell, Clark, McNeill, Kennedy, Johnstone, Murdoch, Chalmers, Divers and Hughes – refused to give way in spite of all the attacking efforts of the Czechs and got the crucial goal five minutes from time, when John Hughes ran almost the full length of the pitch, evading a couple of challenges before flicking the ball past goalkeeper Schroif. That gave Celtic a 2-0 aggregate win and a place in the semi-final against M.T.K. Budapest, where more drama would unfold.