European Cup memories'Barney Rubble' sinks Real Madrid in Paris

Published 25th May 2022
By Steve Hunter

Liverpool won the European Cup for a third time in 1981 against Real Madrid in Paris thanks to a winning goal from a man already making a reputation for scoring in cup finals – Alan Kennedy.

By Liverpool’s high standards, the league campaign was very disappointing. Bob Paisley’s side started May in eighth place in the table and ended up in fifth spot.

A customary trophy was already won in the form of the League Cup after a replay victory over West Ham United, however, and the European campaign had seen the Reds in scintillating form in front of goal.

A 10-1 win over Finnish side Oulu Palloseura in the second leg of the first round at Anfield featured hat-tricks from Terry McDermott and Graeme Souness.

The second round paired the Reds with Aberdeen and an up-and-coming manager by the name of Alex Ferguson.

A wonderful goal from McDermott secured a first-leg victory at Pittodrie before the Reds finished the job off with a convincing 4-0 second leg at Anfield.


Souness bagged a treble again when Paisley’s men were paired with Bulgarian outfit CSKA Sofia, netting a stunning hat-trick in a 5-1 first-leg win at Anfield.

In the semi-finals, Liverpool faced German giants Bayern Munich, and after a goalless first leg at Anfield they were certainly up against it.

To make matters worse, they lost Kenny Dalglish after only nine minutes due to injury, but Scouse winger Howard Gayle entered the field and a new star was born.

Gayle simply ran the German defenders ragged and they couldn’t cope with his pace and direct style.

Add to this a Paisley masterstroke as Sammy Lee was given the job of man-marking Bayern playmaker Paul Breitner, which the No.8 did to perfection.

A brilliant display was rewarded with the crucial away goal on 83 minutes when David Johnson found Ray Kennedy, who turned and produced a superb effort to give the Reds the lead.

Despite Karl-Heinz Rummenigge pulling a goal back in the 87th minute, it was too little, too late and Liverpool had booked their trip to Paris.

Kings of Europe: Paris '81

The French capital became a sea of red as Paisley aimed to make it three European Cups as Liverpool manager.

Left-back Kennedy had already netted in the League Cup final at Wembley, and of course he would go on to do so again in 1983 and become a European Cup winner once more the year after.

The decider in Paris was a goal made by the Kennedys.

With 81 minutes played in a tightly contested final, Ray took a quick throw to release Alan in space down the left.

Liverpool’s No.3 just drove on and drilled the ball beyond the reach of Agustin and into the back of the net to spark jubilant scenes.

Nobody was more proud than Scouser Phil Thompson that night as he got his hands on the European Cup as Liverpool captain.

The fact one of our very own was skipper made it even more special, and the legendary tales of Thompson taking the European Cup to his local pub The Falcon in Kirkby and seeing Ol’ Big Ears propping up the bar have gone down in folklore.


Ray Clemence, Phil Neal, Alan Kennedy, Phil Thompson, Ray Kennedy, Alan Hansen, Kenny Dalglish (Jimmy Case, 86), Sammy Lee, David Johnson, Terry McDermott, Graeme Souness.

Route to the final

First round: Liverpool 11-2 (agg) Oulu Palloseura

Second round: Liverpool 5-0 (agg) Aberdeen

Quarter-final: Liverpool 6-1 (agg) CSKA Sofia

Semi-final: Liverpool 1-1 (agg) Bayern Munich (Liverpool win on away goals)

European Cup top scorers

Terry McDermott, Graeme Souness – 6

David Fairclough, Sammy Lee, Ray Kennedy – 2

Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen, Phil Neal, Alan Kennedy, David Johnson, own goal – 1

Published 25th May 2022