World Cup Moments – 1978: Dalglish and Souness fail in Argentina

Henry Jackson bring you the latest in our ‘World Cup Moments’ series, as Liverpool legends Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness failed in their bid to win the 1978 World Cup for Scotland.

The Tournament

Argentina won the 1978 World Cup on their own soil, and made sure it was stunning spectacle for all involved. The host’s matches in front of their own fans were particularly memorable, with ticker-tape strewn across the pitch and incredible noise coming from the stands. It gave Cesar Luis Menotti’s team a huge advantage.

The Albiceleste defeated the Netherlands in the final, as the Dutch endured similar heartache to four previously, when they lost to West Germany in the 1974 final.

It was fitting that Mario Kempes, the undisputed star of the tournament, was the hero in the showcase event in Buenos Aires’ Estadio Monumental, scoring twice to finish the competition with six goals.

He opened the scoring after 38 minutes, and it looked to be the only goal of the game until Dick Nanninga equalised with eight minutes left to take the game into extra-time.

Kempres got his second in the 105th minute, before Daniel Bertoni wrapped it up with five minutes remaining. It was their first ever World Cup triumph, and their second would come eight years later in Mexico.

England failed to qualify for their second World Cup in succession- Italy topped their qualifying group on goal difference to book their place in Argentina instead of the Three Lions- so it was left to Ally MacLeod’s Scotland side to fly the British flag.

Dalglish’s efforts in vain

Argentina ’78 saw two of Liverpool’s greatest players of all time, Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness, part of Scotland’s assault on the competition.

With the likes of Archie Gemmill, Joe Jordan and Bruce Rioch also in the squad, much was expected of them in South America. They didn’t deliver.

Their opening game against Peru was a disaster, despite Jordan’s opener. They lost 3-1, and were immediately put on the back foot.

An equally disastrous match followed, as MacLeod’s men could only draw with huge underdogs Iran. Dalglish started both games but failed to fire, while Souness was surprisingly left out in both games.

He returned for the final group game against the Netherlands, with Scotland having to beat one of the world’s best sides by three clear goals in order to progress to the second round.

Both Liverpool stars put in terrific performances, with Souness proving a point to MacLeod having been dropped, and Dalglish cancelling out Rob Rensenbrink’s penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Two goals from Gemmill, one of which was one of the most memorable World Cup goals in history, gave Scotland a real chance with a quarter of the game remaining, but Johnny Rep’s effort soon after was the final nail in the coffin.

Scotland were sent packing, and Souness and Dalglish were left ruing a glorious opportunity to announce themselves properly on the biggest stage in world football.

Other LFC Players Present at the 1978 World Cup


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