Football League Division One
24 October 1981 at Anfield
MANCHESTER UNITED 2
Liverpool: Grobbelaar; Neal, Thompson, Hansen, Lawrenson; Lee, McDermott, Souness, Kennedy; Dalglish, Johnson (Whelan).
United: Bailey; Gidman, Moran, Buchan, Albiston; Moses, Wilkins, Robson, Coppell; Stapleton, Birtles. Sub not used: Duxbury.
Yes, Liverpool were the Champions of Europe, having beaten Real Madrid in May, but Bob Paisley’s side had made a slow start and were languishing in 10th place. The visitors, under the new management of Ron Atkinson, were third, having won seven of the previous ten games.
Action: After a frantic start in which new signing Bryan Robson dragged a good chance wide and Gary Bailey denied Ray Kennedy, United drew first blood - Kevin Moran tapping home after Frank Stapleton’s header had been saved. Graeme Souness smashed a shot against the post shortly before half time and both sides had chances in the second half before Moran was adjudged to have fouled Ronnie Whelan. When Terry McDermott smashed home from the spot, it looked as if the points might be shared. Cue Arthur Albiston for his moment of magic, swapping passes with Stapleton and rifling into the bottom corner to send United top of the table.
Reaction: Despite a bright start it wasn’t to be United’s season. Liverpool rallied to win back the title they had given up a year earlier to Aston Villa while Atkinson's men had to settle for third place, five points behind Bobby Robson’s Ipswich.