Ninth title clinched at Molineux

Ninth title clinched at Molineux

04 May 1976

As the Liverpool players traipsed back into the dressing room following an opening day defeat at Queens Park Rangers, few observers would have anticipated that they would go on to have such a magnificent season.

Bob Paisley's side had been deservedly beaten by the Londoners and would follow up the 2-0 defeat with a nervy 2-2 draw at home to West Ham United.

It increased pressure on the Reds boss, who endured a trophy-less first season at the helm and had now seen his side struggle to hit form in their opening two matches.

It would get much worse before it got better too, as the Reds found themselves 2-0 down in their third game at home to Tottenham courtesy of strikes from John Duncan and Chris Jones.

The home side were in serious need of inspiration and the Kop responded with the type of backing that has become its trademark.

Within 10 minutes of the restart Liverpool were back in it through Kevin Keegan's penalty and when Jimmy Case grabbed his first goal for the club on 68 minutes, the hosts sensed a victory.

It was all Liverpool at this point and it was no surprise that they completed the turnaround when Steve Heighway was on hand to convert John Toshack's flick-on from a Terry McDermott corner.

A first win of the season was in the bag and Paisley's Reds were up and running.

Impressive victories over the likes of Leeds United and Aston Villa bolstered Liverpool's hopes of a title bid although a defeat at Ipswich Town and a 3-1 reversal at home to Norwich City gave the chasing pack a glimmer of hope.

At the turn of the year the Reds were looking in good shape, with their bid for the title complimented by a run to the fourth round of the UEFA Cup.

The front pair of John Toshack and Kevin Keegan were almost unplayable at times with the big Welshman netting trebles in wins over West Ham and Birmingham, while in Europe he struck a famous winner in the Nou Camp to give Liverpool the advantage in the first-leg of the UEFA Cup semi-final.

Tosh would go on to score 23 goals in all-competitions while Keegan's overall contribution to the side, and his tally of 16, saw him crowned the Football Writers' Footballer of the Year.

As Paisley's side approached the business end of the season, fatigue began to take its toll with defeats at Arsenal and at home to Middlesbrough allowing an in-form QPR, who went on to win 13 of their last 15 matches, to push the Reds close for the title.

However, an impressive run of their own saw the Reds notch up eight wins in their final nine games.

Indeed, Paisley's men went into their final league clash of the season knowing that a point at Wolves would be enough to clinch a record ninth title on goal difference.

As the match kicked off Queens Park Rangers sat one point clear at the top having played all their games and Liverpool knew that a defeat would hand the title to the Londoners.

It wasn't going to be easy either, as the game with Wanderers was sandwiched between the two-legs of the UEFA Cup final, with the home side needing a victory to avoid relegation.

With 15 minutes of the match remaining a Steve Kindon goal looked like keeping Wolves in the topflight until Keegan popped up to slot a John Toshack knock down into the back of the net.

The goal inspired hundreds of Kopites to invade the pitch and revitalised Liverpool's hopes of winning the title.

The momentum was with the visitors as the game entered the final five minutes and when both Ray Kennedy and Toshack scored to secure a 3-1 win, the Molineux pitch was invaded for a second time, leaving the green turf lost in a sea of jubilant red.