BY STEVE MITCHELL

FOREST FIGHTBACK GIVES THEM HOPE OF REACHING MUNICH:

In what was without doubt the biggest game ever seen in the city, Nottingham Forest drew 3-3 against FC Cologne in a dramatic European Cup semi-final first-leg at the City Ground last night. Brian Clough’s side now face a difficult second-leg in Germany in two weeks’ time as they look to reach the final in Munich next month.

In front of over 40,000 spectators and on a heavy playing surface, the English champions made a calamitous start as the visitors raced into a two-goal lead courtesy of Van Gool and Muller which left the vast majority inside the stadium absolutely stunned.

Then came the fightback; midfielder Ian Bowyer rattled the Cologne crossbar to give the home side belief that they could turn the result around. Shortly after, striker Garry Birtles won Forest a corner and as the ball was played short to John Robertson, his teasing cross was headed towards goal by David Needham and there was Birtles, all alone on the six-yard line to head home.

That goal just before the break, was the fillip Forest needed and with their ears still ringing from what was surely a stern half-time word from the manager, the home side came out guns blazing in the second-half.

They were soon level; after more sorcery from Robertson on the left and another tantalising cross found the head of Birtles, who cushioned down a header for Bowyer to rifle home.

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The City Ground had never seen scenes like it as the old stadium erupted with joy and soon after, cue delirium, as more good work from an inspired Birtles saw Robertson plant a diving header into Schumacher’s goal to complete a dramatic turnaround in just 17 second-half minutes.

The home crowd bade for more as the game went into the final quarter, but when Cologne boss Hennes Weisweiler introduced Japanese midfielder Yasuhiko Okudera in the final stages, the player, who was the first from his country to play in Europe, became the first Asian to score in the European Cup with his second touch of the ball to silence the home support once more.

The goal will be a moment Forest goalkeeper Peter Shilton will want to forget, as the England custodian allowed Okudera’s tame shot to slither under his body. How costly this could prove in the final analysis, remains to be seen.

After the match, Brian Clough was his usual ebullient self, declaring that he thought the result was a good one after his team conceded those two early goals. Clough was at pains to say that injuries had deprived his side of pace at the back, which the German side had exploited to the maximum.

His opposite number Weisweiler explained that his side had surprised Forest by the way they went on the offensive in the early stages and that he was delighted with the way his team had performed.

Let’s leave the final word to Clough however who, when asked what his team had to do in Germany, simply replied, “Having conceded three on our ground, we only need one at their place.”

Nottingham Forest – Shilton, Barrett, Bowyer, McGovern, Lloyd, Needham, O’Neill, Gemmill (Clark), Birtles, Woodcock, Robertson

FC Cologne – Schumacher, Knopka, Zimmermann, Schuster, Gerber, Cullman, Van Gool, Glowacz (Okudera), Muller, Neumann, Prestin

 

Att: 40,804

 

FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP:

Liverpool have increased their lead at the top of the table to six points after a narrow 1-0 win against Wolves at Molineux on Tuesday night. A first-half goal from Alan Hansen was enough to give Bob Paisley’s men the points as they close in on another First Division title. West Bromwich Albion still have two games in hand however, and remain the Merseyside club’s biggest threat.

A Frank Stapleton goal ensured Arsenal did the league double over their North London neighbours Tottenham Hotspur. Having destroyed Keith Burkinshaw’s men 5-0 at White Hart Lane earlier in the campaign, a second-half strike from the Republic of Ireland international was enough at Highbury on Tuesday.

Bottom club Chelsea lost again as the west London side take another step towards the Second Division. A 3-1 defeat at Bristol City leaves them nine points adrift with games running out. David Rodgers, Kevin Mabbutt and Geert Meijer did the damage at Ashton Gate with a Tommy Langley penalty proving to be just a consolation.

A Billy Ashcroft goal for Middlesbrough against Leeds United all but ended the Yorkshire side’s chances of playing European football next season and Everton dropped more points at home to Coventry City, after a 3-3 draw at Goodison Park.

Trevor Ross, Bob Latchford and Brian Kidd scored for the home side but goals from Ian Wallace (2) and Steve Hunt gave the Sky Blues a share of the points.

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Manchester United look to be focusing solely on next month’s FA Cup Final, after being beaten 2-1 at Old Trafford by Bolton Wanderers. A Frank Worthington double gave the Trotters the points with United skipper Martin Buchan getting a consolation for the hosts.

Aston Villa and Derby County shared six goals at Villa Park last night; Gordon Cowans (2) and John Gidman (penalty) grabbing Villa’s goals with Roy Greenwood, Steve Powell and a Colin Gibson own-goal giving the Rams a share of the points.

 

RESULTS:

 

TUESDAY APRIL 10:

FIRST DIVISION:

Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur (Stapleton)

Bristol City 3-1 Chelsea (Rodgers, Mabbutt, Meyer; Langley pen)

Everton 3-3 Coventry City (Ross, Latchford, Kidd; Wallace 2, Hunt)

Middlesbrough 1-0 Leeds United (Ashcroft)

Wolves 0-1 Liverpool (Hansen)

 

WEDNESDAY APRIL 11

EUROPEAN CUP SEMI-FINAL FIRST-LEG:

Nottingham Forest 3-3 FC Cologne (Birtles, Bowyer, Robertson; Van Gool, Muller, Okudera)

 

FIRST DIVISION:

Aston Villa 3-3 Derby County (Cowans 2, Gidman pen; Greenwood, Powell, Gibson o.g)

Manchester United 1-2 Bolton Wanderers (Buchan; Worthington 2)

League Division One table after close of play on 11 April 1979

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Liverpool 32 23 6 3 67 11 56 52
2 West Bromwich Albion 30 20 6 4 62 27 35 46
3 Everton 36 15 15 6 49 36 13 45
4 Nottingham Forest 31 15 14 2 48 20 28 44
5 Arsenal 35 16 10 9 52 36 16 42
6 Leeds United 34 14 12 8 58 43 15 40
7 Bristol City 37 14 9 14 44 45 -1 37
8 Coventry City 37 11 15 11 47 61 -14 37
9 Manchester United 32 13 9 10 52 54 -2 35
10 Aston Villa 32 10 14 8 42 36 6 34
11 Middlesbrough 35 13 8 14 50 45 5 34
12 Ipswich Town 34 13 8 13 43 41 2 34
13 Norwich City 35 7 20 8 48 50 -2 34
14 Tottenham Hotspur 35 11 11 13 37 52 -15 33
15 Southampton 32 10 12 10 38 38 0 32
16 Bolton Wanderers 34 12 8 14 48 58 -10 32
17 Manchester City 33 9 12 12 46 45 1 30
18 Derby County 36 9 10 17 40 60 -20 28
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 34 10 5 19 33 59 -26 25
20 Queens Park Rangers 35 5 11 19 34 57 -23 21
21 Birmingham City 34 5 7 22 31 52 -21 17
22 Chelsea 35 4 8 23 34 77 -43 16

UPCOMING FIXTURES:

FRIDAY APRIL 13:

Q.P.R v Norwich City

Southampton v W.B.A

 

SATURDAY APRIL 14:

Birmingham City v Wolves

Bolton Wanderers v Middlesbrough

Chelsea v Southampton

Coventry City v Bristol City

Derby County v Nottingham Forest

Leeds United v Aston Villa

Liverpool v Manchester United

Manchester City v Everton

Norwich City v Ipswich Town

Tottenham Hotspur v Q.P.R

W.B.A v Arsenal

FOLLOW THE WHOLE 1978-79 SEASON IN THE ENGLISH FIRST DIVISION WITH STEVE MITCHELL HERE ON THE FOOTBALL PINK. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @barafundler

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