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All Roads Lead To Madrid

28 May 2014

Today marks 34 years since John Robertson’s goal secured a second successive European Cup for Nottingham Forest with a 1-0 win over Hamburg in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Retaining the famous trophy was always going to be an arduous task for Brian Clough’s men but here is the story of Forest’s run to the final and that magical night in Madrid.

Round One

Little was known about The Reds’ first-round opponents, Swedish side Oesters Vaxjo, but they proved a tough outfit to break down in the first leg at The City Ground.

Patience was a virtue for Forest though as a brace from Ian Bowyer handed them a 2-0 win on Trentside and gave them a healthy advantage to take over to Sweden.

The Reds did suffer a nervous moment as a mistake from Viv Anderson let in Mats Nordgren to halve the deficit but Tony Woodcock was on hand to equalise and send Forest into the second round.

Round Two

Another unknown quantity was presented to Forest in the second round as they were drawn to face Romanian champions Arges Pitesti, who had seen off AEK Athens at the previous stage.

The first leg at The City Ground proved to be a comfortable affair for Clough’s side as they cruised to a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Woodcock and Garry Birtles.

Despite a hostile home crowd in the return leg in Romania, Forest effectively set about putting the tie to bed and swiftly did so through strikes from Bowyer and Birtles.

A late penalty for the hosts was never going to be enough to re-ignite the contest and Forest progressed to set up a third-round clash with Dynamo Berlin.

Round Three

Much tougher opposition awaited The Reds in the third round as they faced a Dynamo Berlin side who had romped to the East German title by seven points in the previous season.

And Forest’s hopes of progressing any further in the tournament were dampened as a goal from Hans Jurgen Riediger gave Berlin a 1-0 win at The City Ground in the first leg.

So The Reds set off for Berlin with only a slim chance of making it through to the semi-finals but they turned in a stunning performance behind the Iron Curtain.

A brace from Trevor Francis and a penalty from Robertson turned the tie on its head and despite a late consolation from Berlin’s Frank Terletzki, Forest stood firm to progress into the last four.

Semi-Final

Past European masters Ajax were drawn as The Reds’ semi-final opponents and Brian Clough knew his side would need to overcome a stern examination from the Dutch outfit.

Forest took a commanding lead in the first leg on Trentside as the same combination which had seen off Dynamo Berlin, a Francis goal and a Robertson penalty, gave them a 2-0 lead to take over to Amsterdam.

In front of a 60,000-strong crowd in the Olympic Stadium, Ajax were intent on reducing Forest’s lead but despite incessant pressure on Peter Shilton’s goal they had to wait until the 66th minute to go in front.

The hosts went in search of a goal that would level the tie but, just as they had in Berlin, Clough’s men held out to seal their place in the European Cup final against Hamburg.

Final

Despite arriving in Madrid as the reigning champions, many experts rated Forest as underdogs against a Hamburg side which included England star Kevin Keegan.

But in the 20th minute Forest plundered the goal which would see them retain the trophy for a second year as Robertson squeezed a right-footed shot past Rudi Kargus into the corner of the net.

The Germans were temporarily floored but they picked up the attacking tempo once more to question Forest's resolve but with Burns and Lloyd, whose place in the final had been in doubt because of injury, standing firm Forest resisted everything Hamburg had to offer.

As Hamburg became devoid of ideas, Birtles might easily have added a second goal but one was enough and for a second successive year John McGovern was the proudest player in Europe as he lifted the magnificent trophy.

Click here to watch highlights of the 1980 European Cup Final on Forest Player.

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