When Leicester ended Liverpool’s unbeaten run – was then relegated | Soccer


Liverpool’s 2-1 win over West Ham ahead of the international break extended their unbeaten Anfield to 63 league appearances. Jürgen Klopp’s men have a long way to go before they surpass Chelsea’s record of 86 undefeated home league appearances, which started under Claudio Ranieri in February 2004, lasted during José Mourinho’s first stint at the club and the Avram Grant’s tenure before finally ending in October 2008 when Luiz Felipe Scolari was in charge.Liverpool were the team that ended Chelsea’s run in 2008, with Xabi Alonso scoring a deflected winner at Stamford Bridge. They may continue to challenge Chelsea’s record next year but, for now, they have the opportunity to make their own history. If they avoid defeat to Leicester on Sunday, they will break a 40-year club record set when Bob Paisley was in charge.

Between January 1978 and January 1981, Liverpool played 85 matches in all competitions without having tasted defeat at Anfield: 63 league matches (W50 D13), six in the FA Cup, nine in the Coupe de la Ligue, six in the Coupe d ‘ Europe and a European Super Cup meet. Teams from England, Scotland, Portugal, West Germany, Belgium and the USSR visited Anfield and none won. Liverpool’s defense was stingy – they conceded just four goals in 21 league appearances in the 1978-79 season and just eight goals the following season – but they were also ruthless, beating Derby 5-0, Norwich 6 -0 and Tottenham 7-0. in the 1978-79 season. They even scored 10 goals ahead of Finnish champion Oulun PS in October 1980.

The interior view of Anfield. Photograph: Liverpool FC / Getty Images

If you were going to invest a hard-earned pound in a race-ending team from Liverpool, you would have avoided Leicester’s trip to Anfield on January 31, 1981. Jock Wallace’s side were at the bottom of the league, having won as six league appearances all season, with their only away wins at Birmingham City and Leeds United.

They could at least signal some success against Liverpool. Leicester’s first win of the season came unexpectedly against the defending champions, with a 2-0 win in front of 28,455 fans at Filbert Street offering an ounce of optimism. However, hope would soon evaporate. Two 5-0 hits at Manchester United and Nottingham Forest in September gave an indication it would be a tough season for Leicester, and a 4-0 loss to Southampton at the end of the year continued the pattern.

Leicester could hardly have visited Anfield in worse form. They hadn’t scored a goal in their last five league games and, to make matters worse, had just been beaten 3-1 in the FA Cup by third tier Exeter City. Limitation of damage seems to be the main objective. However, it wasn’t all a disaster for Leicester. Liverpool were also knocked out of the FA Cup, losing 2-1 to local rivals Everton, and injuries were taking their toll on Paisley’s side. With Alan Kennedy, Alan Hansen, David Fairclough and Kenny Dalglish all gone, Liverpool’s resources were exhausted.

“People expect us to remove our false teeth while chewing food properly,” Paisley said. Even so, he could still call on Steve Heighway and David Johnson to enter the first team, with Avi Cohen and Colin Irwin filling in at the back. In third place in the league, just two points from Ipswich and Aston Villa, the expected home win would keep Liverpool in the lead.

Although Leicester started off brilliantly, the fragile confidence of Wallace’s young side was fully tested when they fell behind after 15 minutes. Forward Alan Young, trying to help defensively, only managed to beat goaltender Mark Wallington. Liverpool smelled of blood.

Heighway missed an easy eight-yard chance, as Liverpool built up the pressure. Forcing 10 turns, it seemed inevitable that a second goal would follow. But early in the second half, Leicester gained a foothold, with Kevin MacDonald, Pat Byrne, Andy Peake and Ian Wilson dominating the midfield battle. Leicester began to believe.

MacDonald and Byrne tested Ray Clemence before Leicester equalized for Kop thanks to a rare mistake by the Liverpool keeper. Clemence dropped a cross at the feet of Byrne, who rolled the ball into an empty net. A stuttering Liverpool was apparently paying the price for taking his foot off the pedal.


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