BY STEVE MITCHELL
LIVERPOOL GAIN SWEET REVENGE OVER MANCHESTER UNITED TO MOVE CLOSER TO THE TITLE:
Liverpool took another giant step to securing the First Division title after a comfortable 2-0 win over bitter rivals Manchester United at Anfield.
In what could be a pivotal Easter weekend programme at both ends of the table, Bob Paisleyâ€™s side gained sweet revenge over United for their FA Cup semi-final defeat of two weeksâ€™ ago. Dave Sextonâ€™s side have their minds firmly fixed on Wembley and have done so ever since their Goodison Park replay victory, but there was little that they could have done against a Liverpool team in this kind of mood.
Goals either side of half-time from Kenny Dalglish and Phil Neal put the Reds six points clear of West Bromwich Albion who dropped points on Friday night at Southampton and this afternoon at The Hawthorns against Arsenal. Although Ron Atkinsonâ€™s men still have a game in hand, time is running out for themselves, or any other challengers, to make a late charge for the top.
Dalglish has been outstanding this season and once again, he was the orchestrator of Liverpoolâ€™s best moments on an afternoon when they once again proved they are the best side in the country. Their opening goal typified what this team is all about as eight Liverpool players rampaged into the United half; Alan Kennedy eventually crossing for the Scotsman to knock in his 22nd goal of the campaign on 36 minutes.
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The visitors never looked as though they could react to this set-back as the wind swirled around Anfield and two minutes into the second-half, the result was all but confirmed as Neal capped a fantastic run of recent form with a goal that was not from the penalty spot; Ray Kennedy starting the move with a stunning 40 yard pass to Jimmy Case, he in turn laid the ball into the path of the England full-back who left United keeper Gary Bailey helpless with a shot from the narrowest of angles.
Such was the home sideâ€™s dominance that Sexton replaced striker Andy Ritchie with defender Stewart Houston, despite his side being two goals down; it was damage limitation stuff now from the Red Devils.
Case, Dalglish, Alan Kennedy and Graeme Souness all had opportunities to increase the scoreline as United players just wanted to hear the full-time whistle. Only skipper Martin Buchan showed any kind of quality today and Unitedâ€™s cup final opponents, Arsenal, will have noted with interest the way Liverpool tore open their defence time and time again.
TWO GAMES IN 24 HOURS, ENDS WITH ALBIONâ€™S TITLE CHALLENGE IN RUINS:
Within the space of 24 hours, West Bromwich Albionâ€™s title chances look to have disappeared after the men from the Black Country racked up consecutive draws against Southampton and Arsenal.
On Good Friday, a late Cyrille Regis goal ensured Ron Atkinsonâ€™s men got a share of the points at The Dell, after Malcolm Waldron had put the Saints in front and this afternoon at The Hawthorns, Tony Brown cancelled out a goal from Arsenalâ€™s Liam Brady to rescue another point for Albion.
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Atkinsonâ€™s team has won many admirers this term with some breath-taking football, but a fixture pile up due to the brutal winter this year, looks to have finally caught up with his charges. Albion now travel to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City on Tuesday.
FOREST FOLLOW EURO SEMI EPIC WITH A DERBY VICTORY:
Nottingham Forest are now just two points behind Albion after an East Midlands showdown against Derby County, saw Brian Cloughâ€™s team win 2-1. After a dramatic European Cup semi-final first leg at the City Ground against Cologne on Wednesday, one of the scorers, Garry Birtles, was on target once again as he put the visitors ahead following great work by Tony Woodcock.
Both Birtles and Woodcock combined beautifully for Forestâ€™s second, finished off by a spectacular diving header from Northern Ireland midfielder Martin Oâ€™Neill; David Webb got the Ramâ€™s consolation in front of a packed house at the Baseball Ground, on a treacherous surface that was completely covered in sand.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP:
Chelsea are just 90 minutes away from a return to the Second Division after a 2-1 defeat to Southampton at The Dell. A David Peach penalty followed by a Nick Holmes goal gave the hosts a commanding lead at half-time, before Tommy Langley halved the arrears in the second period. The west London club will be relegated if they fail to beat Arsenal at Highbury on Monday.
Birmingham Cityâ€™s 1-1 draw against Wolves at St Andrews gives them a stay of execution, although Jim Smithâ€™s side remain eight points from safety. Alan Ainscow was on target for Blues this afternoon, John Richards replying for the visitors who are still looking nervously over their shoulders.
Thatâ€™s because Queens Park Rangers picked up two points in two days to remain just three points adrift of the men from Molineux. A goalless draw at Loftus Road on Good Friday against Norwich City, was followed by a 1-1 London derby draw against Spurs at White Hart Lane; Dave Clement getting the Hoopsâ€™ goal today, Steve Perryman replying for the hosts.
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Norwich lost the big East Anglian derby to Ipswich Town this afternoon thanks to a goal from midfielder Frans Thijssen and Everton have forgotten how to win after a 0-0 draw at Maine Road against Manchester City.
Gordon Leeâ€™s side have gone from title contenders to struggling to qualify for a European spot next term, after a woeful run of results.
Leeds United are back to winning ways after a narrow 1-0 win against Aston Villa at Elland Road; central defender Paul Hart grabbing the only goal of the game.
There were no goals at Burden Park where Bolton Wanderers drew with Middlesbrough, but there was a five goal thriller at Highfield Road as Coventry City beat Bristol City. Barry Powell (penalty), Tommy Hutchinson and Steve Hunt got the home sides goals, Kevin Mabbutt and Gerry Gow replying for The Robins.
FRIDAY APRIL 13:
Q.P.R 0-0 Norwich City
Southampton 1-1 W.B.A (Waldron; Regis)
SATURDAY APRIL 14:
Birmingham City 1-1 Wolves (Ainscow; Richards)
Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Middlesbrough
Chelsea 1-2 Southampton (Stanley; Peach pen, Holmes) (FULL MATCH PROGRAMME BELOW)
Coventry City 3-2 Bristol City (Powell pen, Hutchinson, Hunt; Mabbutt, Gow)
Derby County 1-2 Nottingham Forest (Webb; Birtles, Oâ€™Neill)
Leeds United 1-0 Aston Villa (Hart)
Liverpool 2-0 Manchester United (Dalglish, Neal)
Manchester City 0-0 Everton
Norwich City 0-1 Ipswich Town (Thijssen)
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Q.P.R (Perryman; Clement)
W.B.A 1-1 Arsenal (Brown T; Brady)
League Division One table after close of play on 14 April 1979
|2||West Bromwich Albion||32||20||8||4||64||29||35||48|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||37||5||13||19||35||58||-23||23|
MONDAY APRIL 16:
Arsenal v Chelsea
Aston Villa v Liverpool
Everton v Bolton Wanderers
Ipswich Town v Derby County
Manchester United v Coventry City
Nottingham Forest v Leeds United
Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur
Wolves v Norwich City
TUESDAY APRIL 17:
Bristol City v W.B.A
Ipswich Town v Birmingham City
Middlesbrough v Manchester City
WEDNESDAY APRIL 18:
Nottingham Forest v Manchester United
SATURDAY APRIL 21:
Birmingham City v Nottingham Forest
Bolton Wanderers v Ipswich Town
Chelsea v Middlesbrough
Coventry City v Southampton
Derby County v Arsenal
Leeds United v Everton
Liverpool v Bristol City
Manchester City v Q.P.R
Norwich City v Aston Villa
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United
W.B.A v Wolves
FOLLOW THE WHOLE 1978-79 SEASON IN THE ENGLISH FIRST DIVISION WITH STEVE MITCHELL HERE ON THE FOOTBALL PINK. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @barafundler
PROGRAMMES COURTESY OF MILES MCCLAGAN https://www.flickr.com/photos/114058793@N05/sets