Tottenham, strengthened by the arrival of World Cup-winner Osvaldo Ardiles and his countryman Ricardo Villa, arrived at Anfield hopeful of winning at Anfield for the first time since the year in which the Titanic sank - 1912! But they returned to London smarting from their biggest-ever League defeat, outclassed from the first minute to the last, conceding seven goals and providing the home public with the memory of one of Liverpool's greatest-ever goals. Liverpool had already found the net 9 times in their three-match winning start to the season with Kenny Dalglish a scorer in all 3 games. It only took him 8 minutes to get off the mark in this one, turning to slide a low shot under Barry Daines after Jimmy Case had misdirected his shot. Dalglish repeated that effort after 20 minutes to put the home team in firm control of the match. Once again Case was involved with a long shot being diverted just inside the post by Liverpool's No. 7. Before half-time Ray Kennedy had headed the Reds further in front, although his far-post effort appeared to get a touch off Liverpool-born John Lacy before it found the net.
It was in the second-half that Liverpool really took Spurs apart. David Johnson, making his first appearance of the season as a first-half substitute for the injured Emlyn Hughes, took full advantage of his chance by scoring the 4th and 5th goals. After 64 minutes John Duncan made a miraculous clearance off the line to save a certain goal but then undid all his good work a few seconds later by tripping Heighway inside the box. Daines dived to his right to block Phil Neal's penalty-kick but the referee decided that the Spurs 'keeper had moved before the kick was taken. Neal's second attempt went to the same side of the goal but higher up; although Daines got close, there was too much power and accuracy in the shot for him to make a save for a second time. With about a quarter of an hour left came the goal that is still talked about in awe today. It started deep inside Liverpool's penalty-area during a rare spell of Spurs pressure. Clemence to Ray Kennedy, then on to Dalglish for a quick pass up towards the centre circle where Johnson was waiting. Quick control and a smart turn then a wonderful pass out towards Heighway who was galloping up the left touchline. Heighway never broke stride as he crossed the ball first-time and Terry McDermott, who had run almost the whole length of the pitch while all this was going on, met the cross at the far post with a bullet header which flashed past Daines before he could move. It really was a wonderful moment and typified Liverpool's style not just in this match but during a season in which they played some wonderful football with great consistency.
There was only one poor spell this season when successive away matches were lost in December at Bristol City and Arsenal. There was another defeat in the Super Cup at Anderlecht in between those two League losses. But only 4 League games were lost all season, with 30 wins and 8 draws making up Liverpool's points total of 68 points. At home they were almost invincible. Only four clubs even scored at Anfield and only Leeds and Everton escaped with a point. There was a new points record (2 points for a win in those days of course) and a "reward" from a newspaper for achieving an average of 2 goals per League game, reached by Jimmy Case shortly before half-time in the final match at Elland Road. Other clubs have won the championship by losing less matches than Liverpool did in 1978-79 but it is doubtful if any team has ever won the title in such a positive way. Although Dalglish and Johnson accounted for 37 of the goals, there were important contributions from the midfield - no fewer than 33 came from the quartet of Ray Kennedy, Graeme Souness, Terry McDermott and Jimmy Case. Although the team was disappointed at their early exits from the Champions' Cup to Nottingham Forest and the League Cup to Sheffield United, they more than made up for it with some breathtaking performances in the League. The Double would have to wait for another 7 seasons when Manchester United won the semi-final after a Goodison replay. But Liverpool were only beaten once in the League (at Villa Park) after the turn of the year as they marched on to increase their record number of English championships to eleven.
Liverpool : Clemence, Neal, Alan Kennedy, Thompson, Ray Kennedy, Hughes (Johnson), Dalglish, Case, Heighway, Souness, McDermott.
Tottenham : Daines, McAllister, Naylor, Hoddle, Lacy, Perryman, Villa, Ardiles, Taylor, Duncan, McNab
Copyright - Chris Wood [email protected]