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Liverpool make it a day for history

Liverpool have done the double. At the end, they won this extraordinary Cup Final in a canter, yet until they scored their equalising goal, ten minutes into the second half, you would scarcely have put a penny on them, unless you had been one of their most loyal supporters.

Up to that moment, or, to be exact, the moment of Gary Stevens horribly expensive mistake, Everton had been strolling away with the game. They had taken absolute control of the midfield. They had tormented Liverpool's defence on a number of occasions with the dynamic pace of Lineker, which had brought them their goal. They had, without any apparent difficulty, snuffed out the Liverpool attack of Dalglish and Rush.

When, six minutes after the interval, Sheedy, so famous for his left foot, popped up on the right, dribbled contemptuously through Liverpool's flagging defence and shot just wide of the far post with his right foot, Everton looked to be home and dry.

In the ensuing minutes, Grobbelaar, giving yet another eccentric performance, got too far under a long, high, right wing cross, then had harsh words with his left back, Beglin on the other side of the box, after a misunderstanding between them.

It was, such is the strange perversity of football, in the very next minute that Stevens made his perfectly awful mistake, Liverpool got their equalising goal, and the pendulum frantically swung. There didn't appear to be any danger to Everton at all when Stevens, who some weeks ago did much the same kind of thing when playing for England in Tel Aviv, though less expensively, made a total hash of an easy ball, presenting it to Whelan.

Whelan, of whom, in common with most of Liverpool's troops, little or nothing had previously been seen, seized his chance splendidly. On went the ball to Molby, in darted Rush from the left and his cross shot put Liverpool level.

The strange pattern would shortly repeat itself; pressure and threat by Everton, a break-away and a goal by Liverpool.

Hardly had Grobbelaar resourcefully pushed Sharp's looping header over his bar, after Hansen had desperately diverted a cross from the right, than Liverpool were away once more. Once again Rush, suddenly and belatedly unchained, was intimately and crucially involved. He again made use of that left flank where one had expected in vain to see him at work in the first half. This time too the second player concerned was Molby, who laid the ball across the empty goal, so that Johnston had simply to run it in.

Ten minutes later, Everton took what proved to be a costly gamble, taking Stevens off, playing with only three men at the back, and using little Heath up at the front. Liverpool, the adrenaline now manifestly running simply took the depleted defence apart.

With just six minutes left, there was yet a third goal in the Everton net, with Rush both the initiator and the final executioner of the movement. Needless to say, his pass released Molby, on it went to Whelan, whose ball from the left was coolly controlled and shot home by Rush.

The wonder of it was that Liverpool in the very last minute, did not get a fourth goal. Molby, now doing much as he pleased, found Rush, who was through with only the unhappy but gallant Mimms to beat; Mimms, who, before the previous Liverpool goal had made a fine save from Molby's ferocious left footer. Perhaps Rush just couldn't be bothered to beat him; his careless shot was held by the goalkeeper just above his head.

All, at the end, so very easy; yet Liverpool will look back on the first half and the opening stages of the second with a modicum of horror if not an actual shiver. They'd decided to put Lawrenson in their back four and to dispense with a sweeper. When, after 24 minutes, Lineker sweetly exchanged passes with Reid he was clean and clear through only for Lawrenson to use his own unusual pace and catch the striker with a fine sliding tackle.

Five minutes later, however, it was the immeasurably less quick Hansen who had to chase Lineker to Reid's immediate inspired through ball; and he simply wasn't up to it. As we know, Lineker's finishing is not the equivalent of his marvellous speed. He allowed Grobbelaar actually to save his initial shot, but the ball ran loose, and Lineker, without trouble put it into the net.

With Reid so perceptive, Dalglish palpably off song after so distinguished a season, Bracewell making you wonder why England are not taking him to Mexico, Everton bestrode the field. Not until seven minutes from half-time did Liverpool even manage a substantial attack.

Since goals - the scoring of them or the failure to score to score them when they are deserved - determine the psychology of the game, perhaps it was inevitable that things should change so radically when Stevens made his mistake, and Liverpool got their first goal. Of Molby, however, it should be said that even in a first half so difficult for Liverpool, he was always bravely and intelligently in the thick of the action, trying to make things happen during a period when Liverpool were finding no space and so little joy. It was thoroughly appropriate that when Liverpool came into their own, he should play so important and impressive a part.

by Brian Glanville of "The Sunday Times"


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