Reds clinch 18th league title

28 April 1990

Having endured the heartbreak of seeing the title snatched away from them in the most dramatic of circumstances, Liverpool returned to action in the 1989-90 season determined to return the first division championship to its rightful place inside the Anfield trophy cabinet.

It would be something of an understatement to say that it had been a difficult start to the year for Kenny Dalglish and his side and with the tragedy of Hillsborough still very much in their thoughts, they were keen to try and concentrate their minds on the football and their attempt to win what would be title number 18.

However, it would be something they would have to achieve without their top goalscorer for the previous two seasons, John Aldridge.

The Ireland international was all-set for a big money move to Spanish outfit Real Sociedad and it was perhaps fitting that he came off the bench to score a penalty at the Kop end in an Anfield swansong that saw the Reds crush Steve Coppell's Crystal Palace by a 9-0 scoreline.

It was a performance that was the perfect example of Liverpool at their irrepressible best, with eight Reds players scoring in the same match for the very first time as they went on to record their biggest ever margin of victory in the top flight.

Many felt the triumph over the league's newcomers would help kickstart the season but for every impressive victory there were the disappointing reversals at Southampton and QPR and a surprise defeat at home to Coventry City.

As the season entered December the Reds notched up emphatic victories at both Chelsea and Manchester City but were left frustrated by home form that saw them draw with both title rivals Aston Villa and lowly Manchester United.

The loss of Alan Hansen through injury had been countered by the impressive displays of Sweden international Glenn Hysen, who had been superb at the heart of the defence while the front triumvirate of John Barnes, Peter Beardsley and Ian Rush were firing the Reds to what looked like being another league and FA Cup double.

In a side oozing talent in abundance it was Barnes who stood out, hitting a magnificent 28 goals in total, a feat that saw him quite rightly crowned Footballer of the Year.

And yet not even the mercurial skills of the England winger could prevent Kenny Dalglish's men from succumbing to a surprise FA Cup semi-final defeat to Crystal Palace.

It was a huge blow to Liverpool's confidence and as they headed into the business end of the season they were left in a three way fight for the title with both Aston Villa and Arsenal.

It was a closely fought race but one that the Reds would eventually win, thanks in no small part to the impact of Ronny Rosenthal.

The Israeli hot-shot, who was signed on loan from Belgian outfit Standard Liege, made a major contribution at a time when the trials and tribulations of another long season looked to be taking its toll on the Liverpool players.

The direct forward made a couple of brief substitute appearances before Dalglish opted to hand him his full debut by unleashing him on Charlton Athletic just three days after the FA Cup semi-final defeat.

It was an inspired decision as Rosenthal went on to hit a perfect hat-trick in a 4-0 away victory before going on to finish with seven goals from eight matches in total.

It was enough to give Liverpool that extra edge and they clinched the title with two games to spare after coming from behind to beat Queens Park Rangers 2-1 courtesy of goals from Ian Rush and John Barnes (penalty).

It had been a rollercoaster ride but they had finished the season as champions and as they put six past Coventry City at Highfield Road on the final day of the campaign few would have anticipated that it would be the last time they could proudly boast to be champions for many years to come.