The Guardian match report

Liverpool keep it in the family

David Lacey in Paris
Wednesday May 27, 1981

Liverpool became the first British club to win the European Cup three times when they defeated Real Madrid 1-0 in Paris last night in a final which, while it seldom approached the high standards set in the competition's early years, produced an increasingly interesting contest of many contrasts.

A late goal by Alan Kennedy kept the trophy in England for a fifth year and the end came with the Kop reminding the Parc des Princes that neither they nor their team would ever walk alone. In truth Liverpool always seemed the more likely winners and victory came after they had walked through not so much a strom as a series of squally showers of the type that Parisians had been avoiding all day.

Yet if ever one man could have denied Liverpool their triumph, he had to be Juanito. The little Spaniard, one of the architects of England's humiliation at Wembley in March, challenged Liverpool's authority in midfield in the first half and in the second started to run at their defence to such good effect that he seemed quite capable of defying the logic of the game's pattern, most of which suggested a British success.

Liverpool's victory owed everything to their long years of experience in Continental competition. Real, for all their fine traditions in the European Cup, looked comparatively raw and especially in defence. From the outset Liverpool whittled away at Madrid's man-to-man marking. Pacing their game carefully, reluctant to waste possession with ambitious passes but never hesitating to use the long ball if the situation demanded it, they always kept their movements wide and always the man with the ball had good support as colleagues ran intelligently into space.

Souness, once he had run off the effects of a early foul be Sabido, was as profound an influence as ever, Lee chased and harried on the right, the full-backs, Neal and Alan Kennedy, were ever ready to move forward and Hansen and Thompson stood firm during an awkward period in the second half when it seemed quite likely that Real might snatch a goal.

In the first half Dalglish, held back by his shirt the first time he twisted away from Cortes but seldom held thereafter, was a constant danger in the Real penalty area and this advantage ought to have brought Liverpool and earlier goal. After half time Dalglish played a little deeper, seeking to draw defenders so that maximum use could be made of McDermott's long runs deep in the Real cover. Because Liverpool could not score when they were dominating, the game became more intriguingly balanced the longer it went on.

Liverpool might have gone ahead in the opening half hour, when Agustin pushed wide a low, skidding shot from Alan Kennedy. McDermott lifted a chance over the bar, and Dalglish produced another sharp turn to confound Cortes but could not finish with sufficient strength to worry the goalkeeper.

It took Real some time to achieve similar blend and co-ordination. Nevertheless, there was danger lurking for Liverpool once Juanito started to look for opportunities to send colleague running on to passes lobbed through the Liverpool defence. One such ball found Camacho, always a strong complement to the skills of Juanito, slipping inside Hansen to clip a shot wide with Clemence off his line and out of position.

Cunningham's role was often peripheral. Once of twice his skill and acceleration threatened to turn either of Liverpool's flanks but little came of even his most promising advances. Liverpool almost went ahead a few minutes before half time. Neal, attacking on the right, found Dalglish, who held the ball craftily before rolling it into the path of Souness, running late and unnoticed through the Real defence. Agustin could not hold Souness's shot and the Scot just failed to reach the rebound.

In defence, where they had their least experienced players, Real often looked suspect, but once they had established a launching pad in midfield they were an altogether different proposition. Liverpool either seemed likely to win by methodical means or lose through a moment of carelessness, and when Juanito began to assert his skill on the game these moments seemed more likely to occur. Early in the second half, for instance, Liverpool stopped for an offside decision against Cunningham that was never given and allowed Camacho a free run at Clemence. The goalkeeper came racing off his line in the usual way, was beaten by a prodigious lob and shared the general British relief at seeing the ball dip over the bar.

When Juanito jinked and swerved past a succession of opponents it seemed for a moment that he was going to out-Villa Villa, but Souness calmly covered the danger and in the end the game was won for Liverpool by a combination of Kennedys.

Ray Kennedy took a throw on the left which Cortes was in a position to cover. However the ball reached Alan Kennedy, whose surge up the touchline took Real completely by surprise. Cortes made an indifferent challenge and Alan Kennedy's momentum carried him past the defender for a thunderous left-footed shot in the far corner.

After that Liverpool, with Case replacing Dalglish, might have gone further ahead as Real Madrid sacrificed almost everything in defence for the sake of a goal. Agustin had to make a number of brave saves in succession.

Liverpool: Clemence; Neal, Thompson, Hansen, A. Kennedy, Lee, McDermott, Souness, R. Kennedy, Johnson, Dalglish (Case).

Real Madrid: Agustin; Cortes (Pineda), Sabido, Navajas, Camacho, Del Bosque, Angel, Stielike, Juanito, Santillana, Cunningham.

Referee: K Paloti (Hungary).

Copyright - The Guardian

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