After a week of intense disappointment for English football at national level [editor’s note: England had lost 2-0 in Holland the previous week, and thus failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup], Norwich City - kindergarten children in terms of European experience - astonishingly defeated the sophisticates of Bayern Munich late last night with a magnificent performance combining composure, resilience, skill and pure nous. It was a joy to behold.
Goss , with a fearsome volley, and a header by Bowen reduced this illustrious home of German football to near-silence as Norwich led 20 after half an hour.
Nerlinger reduced the deficit before half-time with a goal that disappointed the Norwich manager Mike Walker, and indeed such is Bayern’s own away form that there is still danger to come in two weeks’ time. But this was a mighty achievement by City, because Bayern had never lost here in European competition against a British side.
The contrast between Norwich ‘s first European trip to Arnhem last month and their appearance in the Olympic Stadium could hardly have been more vivid. By further stark comparison this was Bayern’s 185th European tie, and Norwich ‘s third. They pack this huge bowl for the big ties but last night it was only a third or so full, the Bavarians not regarding Norwich as much more than a Uefa hors d’oevres. How wrong they were.
Norwich , again without the injured Polston and Ekoku, survived an awkward opening when in only the second minute Germany’s rising young talent Ziege crossed from the left to the near post and Witeczek struck an instant low shot uncomfortably close.
Bayern continued to edge forward with studious precision, across the enormous green spread of immaculate turf surrounded by steepling terracing. They probed for weaknesses with an unhurried ease born of years of top-flight competition. Norwich , to their immense credit, responded in similar vein, introducing their own passing game and waiting for the opportunity to counter within the limits of safety.
Just such an opportunity suddenly presented itself in the 12th minute when a long ball by Newman was headed out weakly by the sweeper Matthaus. Goss , who has discovered a remarkable goal-touch this season, struck the juiciest of volleys beyond Aumann. It was the sort of sublime start to gladden Norfolk hearts everywhere.
The thousand or so City supporters rose as one in their yellow and green, transposing a tiny corner of Carrow Road into a stadium that could swallow their Norwich home three or four times. It was a moment to savour, a moment neither the Norwich fans nor Goss will ever forget. The ordered world of European football shuddered.
Bayern sought to respond instantly, Valencia surging through the middle where Culverhouse was organising his defence with rare zeal and determination. Robins was lost to the battle early on through injury but nothing could deter Norwich who then, quite incredibly, forced a two-goal lead.
A free-kick by Crook, deep on the right, completely eluded the defence and Bowen, who always has an eye for goal, materialised at the far post to head firmly beyond Aumann. The Norwich bench catapulted into the air, arms flailing, voices soaring deliriously into the night skies. It seemed almost beyond belief. It was beyond belief.
The Bayern drums were still beating but now in a desultory, almost mournful fashion. The rhythm was picked up when Nerlinger had a shot blocked, although Norwich never appeared in any serious distress.
However, a typically patient cross-field build-up by Bayern finally bore fruit just before the interval when Nerlinger scored with a sharp header from a long cross by Bayern’s Brazilian full-back Jorginho.
Above all, Norwich needed to maintain their composure then and concentrate with an intensity not always possible in the helter-skelter of the domestic game. They had to think of the second leg. Not for once did Bayern forsake their own passing game and Gunn made a quite outstanding save from Valencia late in the second half, inspiring his fellow defenders to battle on.
Try as they might, Bayern could not break through again. ‘We showed true British grit,’ said Walker. ‘I told the players to always be positive. You can achieve anything if you really want it badly enough. I was always confident that we could do something here despite Bayern’s home record. Records are there to be broken.’
Bayern Munich: Aumann, Jorginho, Ziege (Sternkopf, 60min), Kreuzer, Helmer, Nerlinger, Wouters, Witeczek, Valencia, Matthaus, Scholl (Labbadia, 65).
Norwich City: Gunn, Culverhouse, Bowen, Butterworth, Prior, Newman, Robins (Sutch, 15), Crook, Sutton, Fox, Goss.
Referee: L Sundell (Sweden).
This news has been published by title Premier League: Countdown To The New 2018 19 Season – As It Happened
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