STEPHEN BRANDT remembers Kenny Dalglish’s European Cup-clinching goal for Liverpool against Belgian side Club Brugge
Kenny Dalglish was so good that he ascended to royalty, but was not knighted. King Kenny, as he is affectionately known by the red half of Merseyside, signed for Celtic as a youth player even though he was a Rangers fan. He was part of the set up called the Quality Street Gang, Jock Stein’s follow up team to the famous Lisbon Lions. While this later group was broken up too fast, the players went on to be successful in their own right at other clubs. By the end of Kenny’s career as a player, he would be one of the most decorated players in the United Kingdom. On 10 August 1977, Kenny moved south to Liverpool for a then British transfer record fee of £440,000.
One could have picked any goal from Kenny’s career since he scored many memorable ones, however, the golden goal to this writer is one that settled the 1978 European Cup final in London at Wembley on May 10. Liverpool went into the match defending their trophy from 1977 European Cup and only had to play three clubs en route to the final after being given a bye in the first round. This was to be the first of many European Cup finals for Kenny. This was Club Brugge’s first European final, but it wasn’t the first time the two clubs had met. That was two years before in the 1976 UEFA Cup final which Liverpool won on aggregate 4-3.
The road to Wembley for Liverpool was a stroll through the competition: Dynamo Dresden, Benfica, and Borussia Mönchengladbach were beaten on aggregate 6-3, 6-2, and 4-2 respectively. The Belgian champions knocked out their Finnish counterparts KuPS and Panathinaikos, before besting Atlético Madrid and Juventus in the quarter and semi-finals.
In the final Club Brugge’s Austrian manager Ernst Happel couldn’t match the power, speed, and talent of Bob Paisley’s Liverpool side, so instead of attacking and playing a normal match, he decided to do what every manager of a lesser club does: play defensively. This would be a point of derision in the post-match commentary. The first half was dull, with Club Brugge marking tightly and limiting Liverpool’s chances on goal. Ray Kennedy, Jimmy Case, David Fairclough, and Alan Hansen all took shots that were saved by Briger Jensen.
Another one of Liverpool’s star players, Terry McDermott, took a shot on goal. Not too long after, Rene Vandereycken from Club Brugge sent a cross field looping pass to Jan Sorensen. Sorensen took a shot, but it was blocked by Liverpool captain Emlyn Hughes. It wasn’t cleared, but Ray Clemence got to it. To get some more width in the side, Paisley replaced Case with Steven Heighway, which gave the Merseyside club width down the right side. Shortly after Heighway came in, Kenny recieved a ball in the opposing penalty area from Graeme Souness, and placed his shot over the diving Jensen for the only goal of the match.
Club Brugge pushed forward for the equaliser and on the rare occasion Liverpool looked flustered at the back, intercepted a pass and took a shot, only to see Clemence save. Phil Thompson cleared the ball off the line, assuring the Reds would win their second straight European Cup Win. Liverpool was the first English team to defend their European Cup, and do it back to back. Ironically, Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forrest would win the next two, becoming the first and possibly the only provincial side to win, and retain the trophy.
LFCTV, the club’s in-house television network, does many countdowns and history specials and this goal is always shown and given special attention. This is one of those goals, even though it was 40 year ago, most Liverpool fans remember fondly.