BY STEVE MITCHELL
FOREST REACH EUROPEAN CUP FINAL ON A MEMORABLE NIGHT IN GERMANY:
Nottingham Forest have the chance to continue English footballâ€™s recent dominance of the European Cup, after reaching the final in Munich following a 1-0 away win in Cologne last night.
A 65th minute goal from Ian Bowyer booked Brian Cloughâ€™s men a place at the Olympic Stadium where they will face Swedish side Malmo.
After the 3-3 draw at the City Ground two weeksâ€™ ago, many people were writing Forest off, but the ebullient Clough believed in his players and they delivered on a memorable night in Germany. After the game, Clough and his assistant Peter Taylor declared the win as their â€œfinest hourâ€ with Clough adding that; â€œTonight we have practised everything that we have ever preached in the game.
â€œTonight there was no dissent from my players, no dirty tackling and we worked tremendously hard and gave a performance that everyone connected with the club can be proud of.â€
The First Division champions were determined to silence the critics and almost took the lead early in the match when midfielder Martin Oâ€™Neill flashed a shot just wide. Cologne then hit back and Schuster tested goalkeeper Peter Shilton from distance.Embed from Getty Images
Clough and Taylor were looking pensive on the touchline as the Germanâ€™s continued to press; Van Gool was proving a tricky customer down the left and his excellent cross almost found the head of Schuster.
Then came Cologneâ€™s best chance of the half as Muller broke free from his marker Larry Lloyd, before placing a shot agonisingly wide of Shiltonâ€™s right-hand upright. The England goalkeeper was nearly left red faced shortly after, when a teasing cross from the right from Konopka almost went in the corner after Shilton had assumed it was going wide.
Forest refused to panic despite being on the defensive and young striker Garry Birtles, who has come of age in this competition this season, was making life as uncomfortable as he could for the home sideâ€™s defence.
The teams went in level at the break and one sensed that a single goal would be enough to settle the contest. On 65 minutes, that goal arrived after a John Robertson corner was flicked on by Birtles and there was Ian Bowyer, in the six-yard area, to head the ball home.Embed from Getty Images
There was jubilation on the face of Bowyer and on the faces of the Forest fans that had made the trip. But Cologne only needed a goal to turn the tie back in their favour and just minutes after going behind, an almighty scramble in the Forest penalty area almost led to the equaliser.
Forest were living on their nerves and they were relieved to see an Okudera shot sail over the crossbar as Cologne threw more bodies forward.
The tension inside the stadium was almost unbearable as Shilton was tested again from another Konopka effort. Both teams looked out on their feet going into the closing minutes as the German fire had almost been extinguished.
Finally, the match was brought to a close and Forest players dropped to their knees; a club that was playing Second-Division football only two years ago, will now go to Munich on May 30 to contest the biggest prize in European club football.
FC Cologne: Schumacher, Konopka, Zimmermann, Strack, Schuster, Cullmann, Van Gool, Glowacz (Okudera), Muller (Flohe), Neumann, Prestin
Nottingham Forest: Shilton, Anderson, Clark, McGovern, Lloyd, Burns, Oâ€™Neill, Bowyer, Birtles, Woodcock, Robertson
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP:
Forestâ€™s European adventure gave both leaders Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion the chance to take advantage in the title race, but both dropped points on Tuesday night.
Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw at The Dell by Southampton, despite David Johnson giving them a first-half lead. Nick Holmes got the equaliser for The Saints after the interval.
Albion meanwhile, were surprisingly held by already relegated Birmingham City at St Andrews. Bryan Robson scored for the visitors, but defender Joe Gallagher ensured a share of the points for Blues.
Wolves are safe for another season after a 4-0 demolition of Derby County at Molineux on Tuesday. Goals from Bill Rafferty, George Berry, Steve Daley and Peter Daniel ensured John Barnwellâ€™s side would be playing top-flight football once again next term.Embed from Getty Images
Itâ€™s been a traumatic week for the Black Country side after Barnwell was involved in a serious car accident and who is now currently in hospital with skull and facial injuries.
Derby on the other hand are now in a fight with Queens Park Rangers for the final relegation spot. A point at Old Trafford on Saturday against Manchester United however, will be enough for The Rams.
The future of Manchester City Head-Coach Malcolm Allison continues to grab the headlines, but his team did manage to pick up maximum points on Tuesday by beating Middlesbrough at Maine Road. Polish international Kazimierz Deyna got the only goal in front of just 28,000 spectators.
Itâ€™s been a good week for both Aston Villa and Leeds United, who both hit five goals in their respective home matches against Arsenal and Bolton Wanderers.
The Gunners arrived at Villa Park last night with their minds firmly fixed on next monthâ€™s FA Cup Final against Manchester United and despite taking a first-half lead through Frank Stapleton, the north London side were undone in the second 45 thanks to a splendid Gary Shelton hat-trick and two from John Deehan.Embed from Getty Images
Having ensured their top-flight safety last weekend, Bolton were in generous mood at Elland Road and saw their goal breached by Trevor Cherry, Frank Gray (penalty), Paul Hart, Carl Harris and John Hawley; Neil McNab grabbing the away sideâ€™s consolation.
Finally, Manchester United ran out narrow 1-0 winners against Norwich City at Old Trafford last night thanks to a second-half strike from Lou Macari. The Red Devils remain in mid-table.
TUESDAY APRIL 24:
Birmingham City 1-1 W.B.A (Gallagher; Robson) (FULL MATCH PROGRAMME BELOW)
Manchester City 1-0 Middlesbrough (Deyna)
Southampton 1-1 Liverpool (Holmes; Johnson)
Wolves 4-0 Derby County (Rafferty, Berry, Daley, Daniel)
WEDNESDAY APRIL 25:
EUROPEAN CUP SEMI-FIANL SECOND-LEG:
FC Cologne 0-1 Nottingham Forest (Bowyer) Forest win 4-3 on aggregate
Aston Villa 5-1 Arsenal (Shelton 3, 1 pen, Deehan 2; Stapleton)
Leeds United 5-1 Bolton Wanderers (Cherry, Gray F pen, Hart, Harris, Hawley; McNab)
Manchester United 1-0 Norwich City (Macari)
League Division One table after close of play on 26 April 1979
|2||West Bromwich Albion||35||20||10||5||66||32||34||50|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||38||5||13||20||36||61||-25||23|
SATURDAY APRIL 28
Arsenal v Norwich City
Aston Villa v Chelsea
Bristol City v Leeds United
Everton v Birmingham City
Ipswich Town v Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester United v Derby County
Middlesbrough v W.B.A
Nottingham Forest v Liverpool
Q.P.R v Coventry City
Southampton v Manchester City
Wolves v Bolton Wanderers
FOLLOW THE WHOLE 1978-79 SEASON IN THE ENGLISH FIRST DIVISION WITH STEVE MITCHELL HERE ON THE FOOTBALL PINK. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @barafundler