BY STEVE MITCHELL
On a night of high emotion at Anfield, Liverpool lost their grip on the European Cup after a goalless draw was good enough to take first division champions Nottingham Forest into the next round.
Leading 2-0 from the first-leg at the City Ground a fortnight ago, Brian Clough’s men withstood a barrage from the holders in front of a passionate home support to dump the Merseysiders out of the competition.
Having already beaten Bob Paisley’s team in two domestic cups last season, Colin Barrett’s late strike in Nottingham was the defining moment in the tie. However, huge credit has to go to the Forest rear-guard who withstood everything Liverpool threw at them.
Kenny Burns, Larry Lloyd and England goalkeeper Peter Shilton were in inspired form as the Reds launched sortie after sortie to try to claw back the deficit. This defeat was the first time that Liverpool had lost a European two-legged tie since 1974 and the players, staff and supporters were visibly stunned at the final-whistle.
The Reds have now played five matches against Clough’s men covering 480 minutes and have failed to score a single goal. This latest battle became a tale of attack versus defence from minute one and the visitors’ lack of attacking prowess left Liverpool keeper Ray Clemence a virtual spectator throughout the 90 minutes.
He would have cast a look of envy towards his international team-mate Shilton, who made two terrific saves from Kenny Dalglish in what turned out to be the closest the hosts got to the opposition goal.
Efforts from Jimmy Case, Steve Heighway and Graeme Souness did little to trouble the man from Leicester who admitted after the game that it was one of his best performances since joining the club.
In a rare attack, Forest were furious that referee Konrath didn’t award a penalty when it looked as though Phil Thompson had handled inside the area as Viv Anderson tried to play the ball past him.
As the game went on, the Liverpool fans continued to back their side with vocal support akin to the night last spring when they overturned a 1-0 deficit to defeat St. Etienne on their way to lifting the trophy in Rome. But there was to be no happy ending this time despite Paisley throwing on both David Johnson and David Fairclough for the final 20 minutes.
A night which started in bizarre circumstances with former Liverpool supremo Bill Shankly arriving at the stadium on board the Forest team coach, ended with Liverpool’s two-year grip on European club football’s biggest prize being taken from them by the side that had also pinched their league title just four months earlier.
Liverpool: Clemence, Neal, Kennedy A, Thompson, Kennedy R, Hughes (c), Dalglish, Case (Johnson 70), Heighway, McDermott (Fairclough 70) Souness
Nottingham Forest: Shilton, Anderson, Clark, McGovern (c), Lloyd, Burns, Gemmil, Bowyer, Birtles, Woodcock, Robertson
Referee: G Konrath (Fr)
Att: 51, 679
Lillestrom 1-0 Linfield (Agg 1-0)
Rangers 2-0 Juventus (Agg 2-1)
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