On this day: Nottingham Forest retain European Cup

Thirty-four years ago today Nottingham Forest edge out Hamburg to win the European Cup for the second season in succession.

Winning a European Cup was once incomprehensible for Nottingham Forest supporters of a certain era, but retaining the famous old trophy was the stuff of fantasy novels. That was, until a certain Brian Clough waltzed into the City Ground with his trusty lieutenant Peter Taylor back by his side.

Between them, they guided Forest to the Division One league title in 1978, before going on to defy the odds even further to lift the European Cup 12 months later courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Malmo in Munich.

It meant that the club qualified for the next season's tournament as holders, but that pressure did not appear to hamper Clough's charges as they swept aside the likes of Dynamo Berlin and past European masters Ajax en route to reaching the final in Real Madrid's Bernabeu Stadium, where German outfit Hamburg would be their opponents.

Despite the fact that Forest went into the contest, which was played 34 years ago today, as reigning champions, many regarded them as the underdogs against a Hamburg side that contained two-time Ballon d'Or winner Kevin Keegan. What's more, Forest were without the injured Trevor Francis, who had scored the winner in the previous campaign's final, as well as starring in the quarter-finals and semi-finals this time around.

As anticipated, the West Germans drove at their English counterparts from the first whistle, but found Peter Shilton and his defence in fine fettle. First to test the Forest goalkeeper in the ninth minute was the now Fulham manager Felix Magath, but his curling effort was parried to safety by the England international.

Yet, somewhat against the run of play, Forest took the lead with 20 minutes on the clock. John Robertson exchanged passes with Gary Birtles on the edge of the area and with the time and space that he was afforded, the Scot was able to squeeze his low shot beyond the reach of Hamburg goalkeeper Rudolf Kargus.

Willi Reimann had the ball in the Forest net just 60 seconds later, only to have his effort chalked off for offside, while Keegan was heavily involved as Jurgen Milewski forced Shilton into making a smart save from close range. Nevertheless, for all their pressure, Hamburg were unable to puncture Forest's resistance before the break.

It was a similar story after the restart and even when the German champions did beat Shilton, Manfred Kaltz's rising strike from 20 yards cannoned to safety off the upright.

Hamburg's final opportunity of note fell to the feet of centre-back Ivan Buljan following a poor clearance from Martin O'Neill, but the Yugoslavian fired wide from just six yards out with 10 minutes remaining, ensuring that Forest got their hands on the trophy for the second year in succession.

Speaking afterwards, winning manager Clough said: "We beat them for application, determination, and pride - all the things that portray our football. If you have to defend you have to do it well. It's as important as attacking. At half time I wondered how we could last. Mills was one of only three players we could have taken off. In fact Birtles did not have enough strength to remove his shin pads when he came off at the end."

FOREST: Shilton; Anderson, Gray, Lloyd, Burns; McGovern, O'Neill, Bowyer, Mills, Robertson; Birtles

HAMBURG: Kargus; Kaltz, Jakobs, Buljan, Nogly; Hieronymous, Keegan, Magath, Reiman, Memering; Milewski

England's Michael Owen scores against Denmark at the World Cup on June 15, 2002.
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