BY STEVE MITCHELL
CHAMPIONS ELECT MAKE LIGHT WORK OF SOUTHAMPTON:
The last Saturday of the Football League season saw Liverpool ease past Southampton at Anfield, thanks to a double strike from full-back Phil Neal.
A win at home on Tuesday against Aston Villa will seal the championship for Bob Paisleyâ€™s side and after another dominating display this afternoon, everyone is now aware that we are surely putting off the inevitable.
Neal had the Kop swaying in the opening quarter at Anfield today; The Saints can thank their lucky stars that Liverpool took their foot off the gas afterwards, failing to extend their advantage until 10 minutes from time.
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The hosts went in front after Terry McDermott was fouled by Graham Baker just outside the area. Jimmy Case took the kick and as his powerful shot rebounded off the Southampton wall, there was Neal to fire home from 20 yards.
McDermott and Graeme Souness then had chances to add to the score and big Scottish defender, Alan Hansen, looked in disbelief as his cross trickled across the goal line without a red shirt getting the all-important touch.
Kenny Dalglish may have romped home as the Football Writers Player of the Year, but McDermott must also be singled out for special praise after an outstanding season. He was once again involved in everything that was good about Liverpoolâ€™s play today and had Southampton defenders quivering every time he picked up the ball.
Complacency looked to be the only thing that could stop the home side easing to victory and when Southampton nearly levelled just before the half-hour mark, the Liverpool back-line took note and pulled the shutters down for the rest of the afternoon.
The second-half saw Liverpool change gear as the 46,000 inside Anfield demanded more goals. Southampton resorted to a more physical game after the break and Chris Nicholl was lucky to still be on the field after some stern challenges went unpunished.
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There was a comical moment in the second-half too, when Saints keeper Peter Wells threw the ball out to defender Manny Andruszewski and he failed to spot Dalglish who was standing right next to him. The Scotsman, no doubt surprised by his good fortune, could only fire his shot at Wells as he tried to place it over his body.
With just ten minutes on the clock, Liverpool finally got their second of the afternoon when Neal latched on to a lovely overhead flick from McDermott. The full-back raced into the penalty area before smashing the ball home past the despairing Wells. This was Nealâ€™s first double for the club (excluding penalties) and capped off a great month from a personal point of view.
As news filtered through that West Bromwich Albion had beaten Manchester United, the celebrations will have to wait until Tuesday; unless Aston Villa can spoil the party.
FIRST DIVISION ROUND-UP:
Cyrille Regis postponed Liverpoolâ€™s title party after scoring the only goal of the game against Manchester United at The Hawthorns. Albion stay second in the table, a point ahead of Nottingham Forest, but having played a game more.
Forest were held to a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road by Norwich City who led at the break in their final game, thanks to a goal from Kevin Reeves. Tony Woodcock levelled for the visitors in the second-half who can be proud of the way they have defended their title, despite Liverpoolâ€™s dominance all season.
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Queens Park Rangers were relegated on Friday night after losing a seven goal thriller at Elland Road against Leeds United. Going into the game, the west London side knew they had to win to keep the pressure on Derby County and they led at the interval, thanks to goals from Mickey Walsh and Glenn Roeder, who had cancelled out Arthur Grahamâ€™s effort for the hosts.
After the break however, a double strike from Ray Hankin and another from Trevor Cherry sent Rangers down, despite Viv Busbyâ€™s late consolation.
Itâ€™s been a bad season for west London with both Rangers and Chelsea heading back to Division Two along with Birmingham City.
So that defeat for QPR meant Derby could relax going into their final game of the season against Middlesbrough at the Baseball Ground. They promptly lost the match 3-0, thanks to goals from Terry Cochrane, Mark Proctor and Bozo Jankovic.
Asa Hartford returned to the Manchester City starting XI today and rewarded his team with a goal in a 2-0 win over Bristol City (who were playing their final game of the season) at Maine Road. Polish international Kazimierz Deyna getting the other.
There were no goals at St. Andrews or Burnden Park this afternoon, as Birmingham City and Bolton Wanderers drew with Arsenal and Aston Villa respectively.
Everton stay fourth after their final game ended in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Brian Kidd was on target for the visitors with Argentine star Ossie Ardiles replying for Spurs. Everton sit just a point in front of Leeds having played two games more.
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Ipswich Town won a thrilling encounter 3-2 at Stamford Bridge against an already relegated Chelsea. Two goals from Alan Brazil, to continue his rich vein at the moment and another from Clive Woods, gave the visitors the points. A Tommy Langley brace proving to be just a consolation for the hosts.
The East Anglia club will be desperate for Arsenal to win the FA Cup Final next weekend, which would free up a place in the UEFA Cup for them for next season (if they hold off the challenge of Aston Villa in eighth).
Finally, Coventry City saw off Wolves 3-0 at Highfield Road this afternoon. Goals from Gary Bannister and Barry Powell (2) giving the Sky Blues a win in their final game of the season, in what will be considered a hugely successful campaign.
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THE BIG MATCH GOLDEN GOALS 1978/79
FRIDAY MAY 4:
Leeds United 4-3 Q.P.R (Graham, Cherry, Hankin 2; Walsh, Roeder, Busby)
SATURDAY MAY 5:
Birmingham City 0-0 Arsenal
Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Aston Villa
Chelsea 2-3 Ipswich Town (Langley 2; Brazil 2, Woods)
Coventry City 3-0 Wolves (Bannister, Powell 2, 1 pen)
Derby County 0-3 Middlesbrough (Cochrane, Proctor, Jankovic)
Liverpool 2-0 Southampton (Neal 2)
Manchester City 2-0 Bristol City (Deyna, Hartford)
Norwich City 1-1 Nottingham Forest (Reeves; Woodcock)
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Everton (Ardiles; Kidd)
W.B.A 1-0 Manchester United (Regis)
League Division One table after close of play on 05 May 1979
|2||West Bromwich Albion||38||22||11||5||70||33||37||55|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||40||6||13||21||44||66||-22||25|
MONDAY MAY 7:
Manchester United v Wolves
Q.P.R. v Birmingham City
TUESDAY MAY 8:
Bolton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur
Liverpool v Aston Villa
W.B.A v Southampton
WEDNESDAY MAY 9:
Nottingham Forest v Manchester City
FRIDAY MAY 11:
Aston Villa v W.B.A
Middlesbrough v Liverpool
Q.P.R v Ipswich Town
SATURDAY MAY 12:
FA CUP FINAL:
Arsenal v Manchester United (at Wembley)
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