Peru vs Scotland, World Cup 1978 First Round

As of February 2017 Scotland sit fifth in their World Cup Qualifying Group, six points off the pace set by leaders England. In four matches they have picked up four points, beating only mighty Malta. It is highly probable Scotland will fail to qualify for Russia 2018, and doing so would mean missing a fifth consecutive World Cup.

From 1974 to 1990 Scotland actually did travel to five consecutive World Cups. And in 1978 they went to Argentina as a dark horse favorite. In ‘76 and ‘77 they had won back-to-back Home Championships, going unbeaten in both editions. A summer tour through South America in the year preceding the World Cup had netted a win in Chile (4:2), a draw with Argentina (1:1) and a loss to Brazil (0:2). Most important of all Scotland won three of their four qualifying matches, doing the double over Wales and splitting the series with Czechoslovakia, who had just been crowned European champions.

No wonder spirits were high. Sending the hype machine into overdrive was manager Ally MacLeod. The former Rovers winger wasted no opportunity to talk up his side’s chances, tipping Scotland to bring home “at least a medal”. An abundance of pop songs were penned and intoned, including one by Rod Stewart. Hampden Park hosted a grand send-off. Thousands of fans made the journey to Argentina. Their first destination was to be Cordoba, their first opponents Peru.

Blowing hot and cold, the 1970s were likely Peru’s best ever decade. At the 1970 World Cup, only their second showing ever, they reached the Quarter-finals. Eventual champions Brazil proved too stiff a competition, beating La Blanquirroja 4:2. Five years on the fates were reversed as Peru beat Brazil in the Semi-final en route to claiming their second Copa America title. Héctor Chumpitaz and Teófilo Cubillas had featured in both tournaments and were still staples in the side come 1978. The pair would combine for 186 career caps, and both would find their name on the teamsheet against Scotland. Continue reading

Liverpool vs Club Brugge, European Cup Final 1978

Even in the vast expanse of the old Wembley, the gap between both sets of substitute benches was only a few feet wide. Slightly enough to fit another column of chairs had the powers that be chosen to do so. Very close confines for today’s generation of animated managers. On the night no touchline clashes were observed. The two managers would exchange heated words only after the tie had ended, unsatisfied with each other’s approach.

Both of them were legends in their own right, each having already lifted the European Cup. Liverpool’s Bob Paisley had triumphed most recently, overseeing his side’s 3:1 win in the ‘77 final vs Mönchengladbach. The summer brought the challenge of replacing Kevin Keegan who made the £500.000 move to Hamburg. Keegan may not have gotten on the scoresheet in the final, but he was Liverpool’s top goalscorer in the EC with four goals, and for the season overall, netting 20 times in all competitions.

Enter Kenny Dalglish, a then 26-year old striker of slight stature, joining for £440.000 from Celtic, having scored 167 goals in 322 matches for the Bhoys. Dalglish proved an instant success. Though not blessed with blinding pace, Dalglish relied on his superior anticipation and finishing skills. He bagged 31 goals across all competitions in his inaugural season at Anfield.

Had he been a bit sharper in the first few minutes of this match, the 92.500 in attendance would have seen quite a different game.

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