Villa victory seals league triumph

Villa victory seals league triumph08 May 1979

It goes to show the quality of the class of 1978-79 when Anfield legend Graeme Souness offers this flattering assessment of the club's 11th title winning side.

"I am tempted to say that team was the best I ever played in."

It's easy to see why the midfield maestro was so glowing in his praise of the two times European champions, who swept to the league title in record-breaking style, amassing a magnificent 68 points - a football league record under the old two points for a win system.

At times Bob Paisley's side were irrepressible and with a free-scoring attack that plundered 85 goals in total and a defence that became officially recognised as the meanest back four in history, having conceded just 16 goals all season, it was clear to see how they cruised to the title unchallenged.

A sensational start to the campaign saw them power to six straight wins, a run that included one of the finest Liverpool performances of all-time as they swaggered to a 7-0 triumph over Tottenham Hotspurs at Anfield.

The Londoners arrived on Merseyside with World Cup winners Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa in their side but they had no answer to a rampant Reds outfit, who stormed into a 2-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes courtesy of a Kenny Dalglish double.

Even the loss of Emlyn Hughes after 25 minutes did not hamper the home side's charge and his replacement David Johnson would go on to hit a second-half double after Ray Kennedy had all-but wrapped up the points with a third before half-time.

Just after the hour mark they made it six of the best thanks to Phil Neal, ever-reliable from the penalty-spot, before they sent the Kop into seventh heaven with one of the greatest goals Anfield has ever seen.

Ray Kennedy began the move when he headed the ball clear from the edge of his own area to Dalglish who fired an instant pass to Johnson in the centre circle.

He then fed the ball out to the left wing for the marauding Steve Heighway who whipped in a fantastic first-time cross to the far post for Terry McDermott to arrive late and thunder a header home.

It was just reward for the midfielder, who had followed the move from his own penalty area to put the finishing touches to it in just eight seconds.

"That must be the best goal Anfield has ever seen", said Paisley about McDermott's header.

And the plaudits didn't stop there with Echo writer Michael Charters lauding it as one of the finest displays ever seen.

"Have you ever heard 50,000 people purr with pleasure? Well, the Anfield spectators were doing that constantly as Liverpool stroked the ball around with one-touch moves of staggering accuracy. This display confirmed for me, particularly after the splendour of their wins at Ipswich and City the previous week, that the current Liverpool team is playing better, more exciting, attacking football than any side I've seen since the war".

It would again be a case of 'fortress Anfield' for Paisley and his side as they racked up 19 wins and two draws from 21 home matches with their four defeats all coming on the road.

Not even a 3-1 loss at Aston Villa, a match that saw them concede three goals for the first time in 15 months, could dampen spirits and it was fitting that they had a chance to avenge the humbling at Villa Park when they welcomed the Villains to Anfield on May 8.

A bumper crowd of 50, 576 fans came out in force to see the Reds crowned champions as they ran out worthy 3-0 victors.

Such an occasion can often involve its fair share of tension but any nerves the Reds may have had ahead of the game soon disintegrated as Ray Kennedy opened the scoring after just 60 seconds.

And the title was all-but in the bag on 38 minutes when the newly crowned Footballer of the Year, Dalglish, netted his 21st league goal of the season with McDermott ensuring fans could start popping the champagne corks with the third three minutes shy of the hour mark.