LIVERPOOL won the European Cup for the fourth time following a nerve-jangling 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory over Roma.
AS Roma 1-1 Liverpool (Liverpool won 4-2 on penalties) - The Scotsman, 31 May 1984
A dramatic final hinged on Alan Kennedy’s last penalty for the English champions after the two sides had been deadlocked at 1-1 after extra time.
Italian World Cup pair, Francesco Graziani and Bruno Conti, had sent both their attempts over the bar – as had Liverpool’s Steve Nicol – and Kennedy, who scored the winning goal in the 1981 final against Real Madrid in Paris, coolly slotted his spot-kick past Roma goalkeeper Franco Tancredi.
His goal resulted in contrasting scenes in the middle of the pitch. Both sets of players wept openly and while Liverpool celebrated, it was impossible not to feel great sympathy for the Italian side who had lost in the most unsatisfactory way possible.
It was unfortunate that such a rousing game had to end in this way.
Having made a typically cautious and thoughtful start, Liverpool, who won the trophy for the first time in this same stadium in 1977, achieved an early breakthrough with a goal which cruelly exposed Tancredi’s fear of the high ball.
In the 14th minute little Sammy Lee launched a long, hanging cross to the far post and the Roma goalkeeper, unnerved by a robust challenge from Ian Rush, failed to gather the ball, lost his balance and tumbled to the ground.
Sweeper Ubaldo Righetti attempted to clear the danger but contrived to thump the ball against Tancredi’s head straight to the feet of Phil Neal, and the full-back did not pause before striking the ball into the unguarded net from eight yards.
With Liverpool captain, Graeme Souness, controlling the midfield, lifting the most sublime passes over the heads of the Italian defenders to Lee and Ronnie Whelan on the flanks, the Romans appeared bankrupt of any attacking ideas.
Brazilians Paulo Roberto Falcao and Toninho Cerezo could find no space to weave their South American sorcery and the Italians were fortunate not to fall further behind in the 34th minute.
Righetti struck a lazy clearance to Rush and it took a brilliant diving save from Tancredi to keep out the Welshman’s firmly struck left-footer from 12 yards.
But the Romans made the most of that reprieve with a goal to rank among the best scored in the competition.
There appeared to be little danger when Bruno Conti flung over a near-post cross from the left wing, but Pruzzo, facing away from goal, managed to steer the ball with the back of his head high into the net over the despairing arms of Bruce Grobbelaar.
Pruzzo’s fellow striker, veteran Italian internationalist Francesco Graziani, attempted the same trick in the 52nd minute after a fine run and cross by left full-back Sebastiano Nela, but Grobbelaar held his header under the crossbar.
Grobbelaar, whose eccentricities have been Liverpool’s downfall in past years in Europe, was in one of his more responsible moods and made the art of goalkeeping look ridiculously easy in the 56th minute when he confidently held a stinging long-range drive by Falcao.
As Roma grew in confidence, Nela’s lung-bursting surges down the left touchline repeatedly had the Liverpool defence in disarray.
But the talented young full-back should have made more of a chance in the 77th minute when he raced clear but delayed his final pass to the unmarked Odoacre Chierico, who had replaced the tiring Pruzzo, in front of goal.
As both teams grew weary in extra time, play became increasingly ragged, though Roma did piece together one breathtaking move.
Conti meandered deceptively down the left and then suddenly struck an astute pass between Neal and Mark Lawrenson for the inrushing Falcao to chase.
Had Falcao been presented with a similar opening when his legs were still fresh, there would surely have been no need for the penalty shoot-out. As it was, Grobbelaar plucked the ball off the Brazilian’s toes and ensured the nailbiting penalty shoot-out. A jubilant Joe Fagan, who has led Liverpool to a European Cup, League Championship and League Cup treble this season, said: “I feel terribly sorry for Roma. But we can only play to the Uefa rules and, although a replay would have been more satisfactory, someone had to win. It just turned out to be us.”
Fagan added: “We did not allow their leading players to play to their potential. The instructions were given to our players that whoever was close to Falcao should close him down.
“Tonight when we were about to begin the penalties I gathered all the team together and I said to them ‘I am proud of each and every one of you this evening and no matter what happens in the penalties that will not change.’
“My feeling when Alan Kennedy put in his penalty was one of relief and real elation.”
Fagan revealed that the captain, Graeme Souness, had decided the order of penalty taking. “He chose young Steve Nicol to take the first one and I go along with that decision.”
Roma: Tancredi, Nappi, Bonetti, Righetti, Falcao, Nela, Conti, Cerezo, Pruzzo, Di Bartolomei, Graziani. Subs – Malgioglio, Oddi, Strukely, Chierico, Vincenzi.
Liverpool: Grobbelaar, Neal, Kennedy, Lawrenson, Whelan, Hansen, Dalglish, Lee, Rush, Johnston, Souness. Subs – Nicol, Bolder, Hodgson, Robinson, Gillespie.
Referee: E Fredricksson (Sweden).