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Season 1977-78



Following their thrilling victory in Rome, Liverpool received a bye into the second round of the 1978 European Cup. There they were joined by the likes of Juventus, Bruges, Celtic, Atletico Madrid, Benfica - who beat Torpedo Moscow on penalties after two goalless draws - , Ajax who beat Lillestrom 4-2 on aggregate despite losing the first leg 2-0, and the team that had lost the previous years Final - Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Liverpool had replaced the departed Kevin Keegan by paying Celtic 440,000 for 26 year old Kenny Dalglish. They had also invested in two more Scotsmen - central defender Alan Hansen and combative midfielder Graeme Souness.

The loss to Celtic as a result of Dalglish's departure was shown when they went down 3-0 in Austria to SWW Innsbruck and so ended Jock Stein's hopes of finishing his final season in charge with another European Cup victory. Dalglish's new team, meanwhile, began their defence of the trophy with a commanding 5-1 win over the East Germans of Dynamo Dresden.

Borussia may have lost Uli Stielike and Henning Jensen to Real Madrid, but they were still going to be a major threat to Liverpool's crown as they showed when beating Red Star Belgrade 3-0 in Yugoslavia before thumping them 5-1 at home. Bruges, Ajax, Atletico Madrid and Benfica came through tight encounters against Panathinaikos, Levski Spartak, Nantes and B1903 Copenhagen respectively, while a fancied Juventus side which contained most of the Italian side, eased through against Glentoran.

The Quarter-Finals saw Benfica take an early lead in Lisbon against Liverpool, but the holders struck back through a Case free-kick and a curling shot from Hughes, and Dalglish was amongst the scorers as Liverpool brushed the Portugese champions aside 4-1 at Anfield.

Innsbruck, conquerors of Celtic, were beaten by Borussia Moenchengladbach despite having held a 3-0 lead after half an hour of the first leg. It was Heynckes who saved the day for the Germans as he scored a crucial away goal after an hour and then, in the return match got the winning header - following a Bonhof penalty - that saw Borussia through on away goals.

Bruges booked their place in the semi-finals with an equally exciting win over Atletico Madrid as they followed a 2-0 home win, which featured a penalty save from Bruges keeper Birgis Jensen, with a 3-2 defeat in Spain. The final quarter-final pitched Ajax against Juventus. With both games finishing 1-1, the tie went to penalties where the hero was goalkeeper Dino Zoff who saved two of Ajax's first three penalties with the other going wide to see Juventus win the shootout 3-0.

The semi-final draw threw up a repeat of the previous years final. Despite being without the injured Simonsen, the first leg in Dusseldorf saw Borussia draw first blood as centre-back Wilfried Hannes scored after a corner on 28 minutes. Liverpool then managed to contain the home side and, with just two minutes remaining, seemed to have achieved a valuable away draw when substitute David Johnson headed a Dalglish cross into the net from close range. There was, however, still time for Bonhof to give Borussia a first leg lead as his fiercely struck free-kick bounced in front of Clemence in the Liverpool goal, reared up to hit him on the shoulder and flew into the net. Ultimately, however, it would not be enough for the Germans. Liverpool were on level terms within six minutes at Anfield as Kennedy headed home after being set up by Dalglish and Souness. The holders were ahead before half-time as Dalglish made it 2-0, and a Case goal after 54 minutes ensured Liverpool's second successive European Cup Final appearance.


Liverpool v Borussia Moenchengladbach


Juventus were overwhelming favourites to meet them at Wembley, but they were frustrated in Turin by the defensive tactics of Bruges manager Ernst Happel and had to wait until the dying moments of the game before Roberto Bettega scored the only goal of the first leg. Having conceded only two goals so far in the competition, Juventus were still confident of getting past the Belgians, but they were rocked by a third minute goal in Bruges from the home teams captain and full back Alfons Bastijns. There were no further goals in normal time and as extra time drew to a close it looked as though a penalty shootout was inevitable, but with only six minutes remaining, Juventus full back Claudio Gentile was sent off for a second bookable offence and a minute later Rene Vandereycken scored from a Jan Sorensen cross to put a Belgian side into the European Cup Final for the first time.


FC Bruges v Juventus


The Final itself was something of an anti-climax. Bruges, with two of their most influential players - centre forward Raoul Lambert and midfielder Paul Courant - out injured, and with Liverpool having the overwhelming support from a partisan Wembley crowd, Bruges coach Happel decided to repeat the tactics he had used so successfully against Juventus. Up against a massed Belgian defence, a below par Liverpool struggled to create chances, and on the rare occasions that they did, Birger Jensen was yet again in commanding form between the Bruges posts. It was not until the 65th minute that the deadlock was broken. Heighway - who had come on as substitute for Case just a minute earlier - combined with McDermott to find Souness on the edge of the penalty area. Souness chested the ball down and split the Bruges defence with a pass that found Dalglish free on the right hand side of the box. Dalglish waited for the onrushing Jensen to commit himself before coolly chipping the ball over the goalkeeper and just inside the far post.

Bruges rarely looked like getting an equaliser after that and it was Emlyn Hughes who would raise the European Cup aloft for the second successive season to the roar of tens of thousands of Liverpool supporters who had journeyed down to London for the night. It may have been a disappointing final, but over the course of two seasons Liverpool had shown beyond doubt that they were the top team in Europe. With Hansen, Souness and Dalglish having strengthened the spine of an already powerful team it looked as though Liverpool would only get better - which meant that the rest of Europe had better watch out.

1978 European Cup Final (London)
Liverpool 1 FC Bruges 0
Liverpool:
Clemence, Neal, Thompson, Hughes (capt), Hansen, Case (Heighway), McDermott, R.Kennedy, Dalglish, Fairclough, Souness
Scorer: Dalglish
FC Bruges: Jensen, Bastijns (capt), Leekens, Krieger, Maes (Volders), Cools, van der Eycken, Ku (Sanders), de Cubber, Simoen, Sorensen


You can find details of all the results, dates and scorers on the RSSSF website here.

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