Red heaven

SI­MON SHELDON re­calls when Liver­pool won the Euro­pean Cup for the first time – 40 years ago…

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - LIVERPOOL - @statto1968

THERE were a cou­ple of no­table an­niver­saries for those with Liver­pool con­nec­tions to savour re­cently. Aside from the 50th an­niver­sary of The Bea­tles’ Sgt. Pep­per’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, pos­si­bly the great­est al­bum ever, it’s 40 years ago that Liver­pool won their first Euro­pean Cup.

The Reds were the reign­ing UEFA Cup win­ners af­ter beat­ing Club Brugge 4-3 on ag­gre­gate, but had en­tered the 1976/77 Euro­pean Cup as league cham­pi­ons from the pre­vi­ous sea­son.

In those days, the com­pe­ti­tion was only open to the cham­pion club of each Euro­pean league and it was a straight knock­out cup played over home and away legs.

The Reds were drawn against the North­ern Ire­land cham­pi­ons Cru­saders in the first round.

Liver­pool won 2-0 in the first leg at An­field cour­tesy of goals from Phil Neal (pen) and John Toshack.

The re­turn was won eas­ily 5-0 with goals from David John­son (two), Kevin Kee­gan, Terry McDer­mott and Steve Heigh­way, al­low­ing Liver­pool to cruise through 7-0 on ag­gre­gate.

In the sec­ond round, Turk­ish cham­pi­ons Trab­zon­spor were their op­po­nents with the first leg away this time.

A tight game was set­tled by a penalty to the Turk­ish side, but in the re­turn leg at home Liver­pool scored three early goals through Heigh­way, John­son and Kee­gan in the first half. It meant they took the tie 3-1 on ag­gre­gate.

In the quar­ter-fi­nals, the pre­vi­ous year’s fi­nal­ists Saint-Eti­enne stood in the way. The French out­fit won the first leg 1-0 at home and were con­fi­dent of go­ing through.

The re­turn is con­sid­ered one of Liver­pool’s most mem­o­rable Euro­pean nights.

Bob Pais­ley’s men opened the scor­ing in the sec­ond minute through Kee­gan to level the tie. How­ever, St Eti­enne equalised early in the sec­ond half, putting them 2-1 up on ag­gre­gate.

Due to the away goals rule, Liver­pool would have to score twice to progress to the semi-fi­nal. With time tick­ing away, the odds against such a re­vival were mount­ing, un­til Ray Kennedy made the over­all score­line 2-2 with a stun­ning strike.

With 18 min­utes re­main­ing, David Fair­clough re­placed Toshack and the ‘su­per­sub’ struck the win­ner with six min­utes left. Liver­pool were through 3-2 on ag­gre­gate.

They drew the Swiss cham­pi­ons FC Zurich in the semi-fi­nals. Although Zurich took a six­th­minute lead from the penalty spot at home in the first leg, goals from Neal eight min­utes later and in the sec­ond half by Heigh­way and Neal again, from the spot, gave the Merseysiders a com­fort­able 3-1 ad­van­tage head­ing into the re­turn at An­field.

Liver­pool eas­ily rolled over the Swiss 3-0 at home with two goals from Case and the other from Kee­gan to march on to Rome for the fi­nal

against Borus­sia Monchenglad­bach. The Ger­man cham­pi­ons had reached the fi­nal by beat­ing Aus­tria Vi­enna 3-1, Torino 2-1, Club Brugge 3-2 and, in the semi-fi­nals, Dy­namo Kiev 2-1.

The clubs had met four years ear­lier in the 1973 UEFA Cup fi­nal, Liver­pool win­ning 3-2 on ag­gre­gate.

In 1976-77, Liver­pool clinched the league ti­tle by a sin­gle point from Manch­ester City and also reached the FA Cup fi­nal against Manch­ester United.

With the Euro­pean Cup fi­nal to fol­low, there was the prospect of an un­prece­dented foot­ball tre­ble.

How­ever, it was not to be (we would have to wait an­other 22 years for a club – Manch­ester United – to achieve this) as Liver­pool lost 2-1 to the Red Devils at Wem­b­ley.

Borus­sia had also re­tained their ti­tle and were keen to keep the Euro­pean Cup in Ger­man hands. Bay­ern Mu­nich had won the three pre­vi­ous fi­nals but had lost to Dy­namo Kiev in the quar­ter-fi­nals this time.

The Ger­man team had some big names in their side – Rainer Bon­hof, Uli Stielike, Berti Vogts and the Dan­ish star Allan Si­mon­sen.

A mass ex­o­dus of Reds fans con­verged on the Ital­ian cap­i­tal to cheer on Pais­ley’s men just four days af­ter their FA Cup fi­nal dis­ap­point­ment. The sta­dium was packed and it looked like a sea of red and white flags and ban­ners, as if An­field had been trans­ported to Rome.

Af­ter a cagey start, the first chance fell to Borus­sia. Bon­hof moved for­ward from mid­field and ri­fled a shot that came back off the post. In the 27th minute, Ian Cal­laghan won the ball in mid­field and passed to Heigh­way on the right wing.

Heigh­way cut in­side and, as he was about to be tack­led, found Terry McDer­mott, who had made a lung-burst­ing 60-yard run from his own half of the pitch to the edge of the Borus­sia penalty area. In space, he took a touch and struck the ball into the back of the net.

As the half-time whis­tle sounded, the flags were fly­ing to ac­claim a job well done. So far, so good was the con­sen­sus, but in the dress­ing room Pais­ley warned of com­pla­cency.

How­ever, those words of ad­vice were not enough and six min­utes af­ter the restart the Ger­mans were level.

Case mis­placed a back pass to goal­keeper Ray Cle­mence. Si­mon­sen pounced and in a flash whipped a shot past the help­less keeper. The match ebbed and flowed. Kee­gan thought he had won a penalty when he seemed to be brought down by Vogts but the ref­eree waved play on, then Si­mon­sen crossed from the right and it was

met by Stielike whose shot was saved by Cle­mence. How­ever, in the 64th minute, it was Liver­pool who made the break­through. The Reds won a cor­ner on the left-hand side and it was taken by Heigh­way. He de­liv­ered a per­fect cross to the near post for Tommy Smith, on his 600th ap­pear­ance for the club, to run in and head home to give Liver­pool the lead. Min­utes later, Liver­pool were de­nied a penalty again when Heigh­way was brought down by Bon­hof. But with just eight min­utes re­main­ing, Kee­gan (who had been in­spi­ra­tional play­ing his last game for Liver­pool be­fore mov­ing to the Bun­desliga to play for Ham­burg) picked up the ball just over the half­way line. With his man-marker Vogts trail­ing in his wake, he em­barked on a surg­ing run into the penalty area and, as he was about to shoot, was sent sprawl­ing to the turf. This time, French ref­eree Robert Wurtz had no hes­i­ta­tion in point­ing to the spot. Up stepped the re­li­able Neal to hit low into the cor­ner. Three-one, game over and the ju­bi­lant Reds cel­e­brated. Skip­per Em­lyn Hughes proudly lifted the gleam­ing sil­ver tro­phy and Liver­pool were cham­pi­ons of Europe. They re­tained the cup the fol­low­ing sea­son and have now won it five times. But no one will for­get that balmy night in Rome 40 years ago when they be­came kings of Europe for the first time.

Sealed with a kiss: Jimmy Case, left, and Phil Neal en­joy the mo­ment af­ter Liver­pool’s Euro­pean Cup tri­umph

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