Liverpool and Alan Kennedy look to rerun history against Real Madrid in Kiev

Real Madrid CF and Liverpool FC football teams will play the UEFA Champions League final match in Kiev on May 26, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 21 May 2018
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Liverpool and Alan Kennedy look to rerun history against Real Madrid in Kiev

LIVERPOOL: With eight minutes of the 1981 European Cup final remaining, Liverpool left-back Alan Kennedy made one of his trademark bursts forward, broke into the Real Madrid penalty area and drove home a left-footed finish to settle a tense, tactical battle.
Unlikely, unforgettable, he had the historic distinction of being the matchwinner in two finals, having also netted the decisive penalty in the shoot-out victory over AS Roma three years later.
“So proud,” reflected Kennedy. “It was a wonderful time to be a Liverpool player.”
On Saturday, the Reds meet Real again in Kiev to contest European club football’s most prized trophy.And the memories of that Paris triumph will never fade for the 63-year-old, nor will being part of a lauded Liverpool team.
“That was their mentality and Liverpool were rightly the top team in Europe,” Kennedy, who also lifted five League titles for the Reds during his eight-year stay at Anfield, said. “It was a great era, great times, but the be-all and end-all for any footballer, should be about winning trophies.”
Liverpool’s strength and focus was emphasized in that Parc des Princes showpiece. Before kick-off they had to cover up sponsor’s logos on their shirts to appease UEFA and TV broadcasters. They had concerns about the fitness of influential striker Kenny Dalglish and Kennedy himself after a broken wrist had sidelined him six weeks earlier.
“I think when you put obstacles in the way of that Liverpool team, the better they played,” he told Arab News. “We had issues with TV rights, about the state of the pitch, issues about the fitness of players, me included, but we went out to play the game and win.”
Formidable foes, Bob Paisley’s side dominated Europe in much the same way Zinedine Zidane’s side are doing at the moment. On Saturday they will seek to become the first side to win three European Cups on the bounce since Bayern Munich in 1976.
“Real Madrid are the champions and fantastic in the competition with their history,” said Kennedy. “You have to respect what they have done.
“Everyone expected Liverpool to be in contention for all the trophies too and that’s what we wanted, to push ourselves to as many finals. We wanted to win everything. Maybe we were a bit greedy, but we felt we could do it.
“I don’t think we were arrogant, although our play suggested we were good at what we did. We played a system that was attack all the time no matter if we were under the cosh or defending.
“It was a great team, everyone knew their jobs, we didn’t change for anyone. We were single-minded about winning. We had set the standards and were under pressure to win every game.”
As favorites, Real will be under similar pressure as they seek a 13th title. And Kennedy believes that his former club can claim a sixth European Cup and their first since the famous 2005 triumph over AC Milan in Istanbul when they came back from 3-0 down.
“I know it will be a great game, difficult to call,” he said.
“But I would be saying to the Liverpool players that you can win it, you are good enough to win it. Go out and play the same way you
have all season. If they do, I think they will win it.
“They may concede, but they should not change their style.”
And nor should they, as attack has been the best form of defense for Liverpool this season. In Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, there is a frontline blessed with pace, panache and potency.
Salah, rightly, has received accolades — including the PFA and Football Writers Player of the Year awards — after a stunning debut season following his £36.9 million ($49 million) arrival from Roma.
A landmark 42 goals — a record 32 in the Premier League — and ability to create chances have seen the Egyptian ranked alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
But, for Kennedy, there can be no comparison to Dalglish, arguably the greatest Kop king.
“Kenny was special, a different type of player, always on the shoulder of the defender,” he added. “Salah comes in from the wing and scores spectacular goals. Liverpool play to his strengths as he is forever getting into the box and the right position.
“For me, Kenny, over 10 seasons, was Liverpool’s top player at that time, fantastic, and it’s difficult to put them side by side. Salah’s been wonderful, but never had a season like this before.”
Madrid’s talisman Ronaldo has. Another 43 goals for the five-time Ballon D’Or winner shows he remains a force at 33.
“I’ve always had utmost admiration for Ronaldo,” said Kennedy. “He has this ability to score in finals and show how good he is. One chance, he takes it.
“But that’s been the same with Salah too. The goals he has scored, he seems to see what comes ahead. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top.”


Leonard scores 35, Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 for 3-2 lead

Updated 24 May 2019
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Leonard scores 35, Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 for 3-2 lead

  • Leonard hit the 30-point mark for the fourth time in the series

MILWAUKEE: Kawhi Leonard scored 35 points and the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 105-99 on Thursday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
Leonard showed no obvious signs of the leg soreness that bothered him in Toronto’s victories in the previous two games, hitting the 30-point mark for the fourth time in the series. He made five 3-pointers and had seven rebounds and nine assists.
Fred VanVleet scored 21 points, hitting seven 3s. Kyle Lowry added 17 as the Raptors put themselves in position to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time. A victory at home Saturday would set up a matchup with two-time defending champion Golden State.
“This was a super-hard win tonight,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.
The Raptors battled out of an early 14-point hole, then got 15 points from Leonard in the fourth quarter to send the top-seeded Bucks to their first three-game losing streak of the season.
“We weathered the storm early,” Leonard said.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points for Milwaukee hours after being announced as a unanimous first-team, All-NBA selection. Eric Bledsoe scored 20 and Malcolm Brogdon added 18 points and 11 rebounds in his return to the starting lineup.
“It’s first to four. We’ve got to go to Toronto, get a game. I think the group will be ready,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
The Raptors were clinging to a two-point lead in the closing minute after Khris Middleton drove around Leonard on the baseline for a layup.
Toronto was initially called for a shot-clock violation when Leonard missed a fadeaway jumper with 35 seconds left. That got overturned by a replay review, and Brook Lopez was called for a foul, instead, for bumping Marc Gasol after he retrieved the loose ball.
Gasol hit both free throws to make it 100-97. Another replay review went in Toronto’s favor when officials determined a ball went out of bounds off Brogdon with 26.8 seconds left. Brogdon pulled his hand away, thinking his dribble had gone off Pascal Siakam’s foot.
Siakam then drove for a dunk, making it 102-97, and the Raptors hung on from there.
Milwaukee was leading 81-79 with about 8 1/2 minutes left when Leonard nailed back-to-back 3-pointers. He hit two free throws before Siakam threw down a put-back dunk to make it 89-81.
The Bucks tied it at 93-all with 2:44 left on a 3-pointer by Lopez. VanVleet answered with one of his own before Antetokounmpo threw down an alley-oop dunk to cut it to 96-95 with just over two minutes remaining.
The Bucks set a fast pace early on and led by 10 after the first quarter, delighting the towel-waving fans chanting “Fear The Deer! Fear the Deer!” They withstood a 16-2 run by Toronto to start the second, with Antetokounmpo nailing a 3 to stop it.
The Bucks also went on a 14-2 run early in the third, with the Greek Freak throwing down a hard dunk off a feed by Middleton for a 63-51 lead. But the Raptors got right back into it.

Tip-ins

Raptors: Lowry now has 1,126 points in 66 playoff games for Toronto, surpassing DeMar DeRozan (1,117) as the franchise’s postseason scoring leader.
Bucks: Brogdon started all 64 games he played in during the regular season, before missing basically all of the first two rounds because of a heel injury. With Brogdon back in the lineup, Nikola Mirotic came off the bench.

Up next

Game 6 is at Toronto on Saturday.