Friday, 9 May 2014

Five Favourite Wins Against Newcastle United at Anfield

All season I have written a series where I look back at my five favourite wins for Liverpool over their next opponents.  This weekend Liverpool play their final game of the season, against Newcastle United at Anfield in a game they must win to stand any chance of winning the title.  So this is the last edition.  Here are my five favourite wins from past encounters.

28th December 1987
LIVERPOOL   (1)   4   (McMahon 4, Aldridge pen 48, 76, Houghton 88)

LIVERPOOL: Grobbelaar; Nicol, Gillespie, Hansen, Venison; Houghton, McMahon, Whelan (Spackman); Beardsley, Aldridge, Barnes (Johnston)

NEWCASTLE: Kelly; McDonald, Anderson, Roeder, Wharton; Jackson (Bogie), Gascoigne, McCreery, Cornwell; Goddard, Mirandinha

One of the finest teams to grace Anfield, Liverpool were already 10pts clear at the top of the table when Newcastle were the visitors at the end of 1987.  They had already massed twice as many points as their opponents that day who faced the daunting prospect that only one side had managed so much as a point at Anfield that season, with Grobbelaar conceding just 3 goals by this time.  Newcastle were finding like difficult down in 12th, although they’d only lost 1 in their last 7 league games and had recently beaten Manchester United, 1-0 on Boxing Day.

Liverpool were still unbeaten during the season, having won 5 of their last 6 matches, conceding in just two of those games.

A crowd of 44,637 packed into Anfield where the gates had been shut almost an hour before kick-off, such was the buzz on Merseyside at that time.  The home supporters didn’t have long to wait for the goals to flow either, when Steve McMahon opened the scoring after just four minutes.  It was his 6th goal of the season from a side seemingly able to conjour up goals from anyone.  The reverse fixture up at St.James’s Park had seen Steve Nicol bag a hat-trick in a 4-1 win.  Roeder and Gillespie clashed heads when battling for John Barnes’ corner and the ball fell to McMahon who cut in and fired past Kelly.

Newcastle, managed by former player, Willie McFaul, included a young Paul Gascoigne in their side.  They also had Mirandinha, who had signed for the club that season, becoming the first Brazilian to play in English football.  They were able to repel the home side for the rest of the half, but early into the second period, Liverpool earned a penalty which John Aldridge tucked away for a 2-0 lead.  Newcastle had shown some good moments during the first period with nearly all of them involving Gascoigne, clearly keen to showcase his talents on the big stage.  He even had a goal disallowed during the second half, but that was the only real occasion when the home side was threatened.

As happened often during this season, Liverpool’s two biggest threats seemed to be boredom and themselves.  Embarrassed by their domination of play they could be seen trying to score the perfect goal when a more simpler chance would do, yet the sheer weight of chances allowed them this profligacy.  Towards the end of the match, they concentrated and sliced the defence open for Aldridge and Houghton to double the score and give it a fairer reflection of the difference in the two sides, 4-0.

With Nottingham Forest also winning, Liverpool maintained their 10-pt lead at the top.  It wouldn’t be until 20th March when Liverpool finally lost a league match, at Everton, who had also knocked them out of the League Cup.  Liverpool won the title by 9pts from Manchester United and were 17pts ahead of the 3rd placed side, Nottingham Forest.  They lost to Wimbledon in the FA Cup when seemingly destined for their second ‘double’ in three seasons.  Newcastle finished 8th.

3rd April 1996
LIVERPOOL   (1)   4   (Fowler 2, 56, Collymore 68, 90)
NEWCASTLE   (2)   3   (Ferdinand 10, Ginola 14, Asprilla 57)

LIVERPOOL: James; McAteer, Wright (Harkness), Ruddock, Scales, Jones (Rush); McManaman, Redknapp, Barnes; Collymore, Fowler

NEWCASTLE: Srnicek; Watson, Albert, Howey (Peacock), Beresford; Lee, Batty, Ginola; Beardsley, Ferdinand, Asprilla

The race for the title in 1995-96 had seen Newcastle open up a 9pt gap on Manchester United at the top by mid-February.  Managed by Kevin Keegan, their 5-straight winning run came to an end at West Ham and when they turned up at Anfield they’d won just 1 of their previous 5 League matches, including a 0-1 defeat at home to United.  This game saw Newcastle lying 2nd, 3pts behind United with two games in hand.

Liverpool were in 3rd, having just lost 0-1 to Nottingham Forest ending a 15-game unbeaten run.  Roy Evans side had just beaten Aston Villa, 3-0, in the FA Cup Semi-Final and were looking forward to meeting Manchester United in the Final.  They were in with an outside chance of the title trailing United by 8pts with this game in hand.

Some have called this the greatest game in Premier League history, and there is no doubt it is a classic.  Played at a frenetic pace from start to finish, it was a real heavyweight clash with two sides, bent on attacking, going at each other for 90 minutes with no quarter given.

With just 2 minutes gone Rob Jones combined with Stan Collymore down the left and the Liverpool striker got to the bye-line and fired in a cross to the far post where Robbie Fowler headed the home side in front.  1-0It was a great start and Fowler, who’d scored twice in the weekend cup match had his 26th League goal of the season.  The noise was deafening, yet Newcastle fought back soon after.  Watson took a throw on the right wing and Asprilla picked up the ball just outside the area, skinned Ruddock then pulled it back where Ferdinand fired it past James.  1-1

Then four minutes later a ball out of Newcastle’s box found Ferdinand in the centre-circle.  He brought the ball down and then sent Ginola clear on the left.  The Frenchman held off McAteer and fired past James to put Newcastle in front giving the crowd barely time to catch their breath.  1-2.  Liverpool had the better of the chances for the rest of the half as Redknapp went close from long range and Fowler slid the ball agonisingly wide.  McManaman also had a shot tipped over.

Newcastle went into the break 2-1 up but you just knew there were more goals to come.  James saved well from Lee early in the second half and this seemed to galvanise the home side.  McManaman went close twice more before Liverpool finally equalised.  McAteer, in the right-back position, played a ball down the wing where McManaman had space to run at the defence.  As he reached the penalty area he squared the ball for Fowler to run onto and he fired a low shot, left-footed past Srnicek.  2-2.

Within a minute Newcastle had restored their lead.  Beardsley won the ball inside his own half and played a lovely ball to Rob Lee, which took out three Liverpool players.  Lee burst forward and waited for the run of Asprilla on the right.  Lee’s perfect pass between Ruddock and Jones found Asprilla and he hit a first time shot with the outside of his right foot curling it past James, who had charged out of his goal making the chance easier for the Colombian.  2-3.

Ten minutes later and Liverpool were level again.  Redknapp won the ball in the centre-circle, found McManaman who utilised McAteer on the right.  The wing-back fired a teasing ball ahead of the defence for Collymore to turn the ball in at the far post.  This was the season where Newcastle’s philosophy was just to score more than the opposition, but by now this was testing the patience of their supporters.  Liverpool, equally as attack-minded, just wouldn’t give up either.  3-3.

In his debut season at Anfield, Collymore now had 11 goals in the League as he went some way towards repaying the £8m Liverpool had paid Nottingham Forest for his services.  Fowler, McManaman and Collymore went close for Liverpool as the home side continued to press for a winner.  Evans then threw Rush on in an attempt to settle things and as the game moved towards injury time the whole place erupted.

Barnes and Rush exchanged passes in midfield, each time moving nearer and nearer the opposition area.  Once in the area they almost got in each other’s way, until Barnes, with the calmness of a veteran, saw Collymore was unmarked on the left and found him.  Collymore took one touch and then fired left footed beating Srnicek on his near post.  It was an astonishing finish to an incredible match.  Right at the death Liverpool had won it and few who witnessed it would ever forget it.  4-3.

Newcastle were crushed and never recovered, finishing 2nd in the table.  Liverpool were 7pts behind them in 3rd place and also had the heartbreak of losing the FA Cup Final to a late goal against Manchester United.

10th March 1997
LIVERPOOL   (3)   4   (McManaman 29, Berger 30, Fowler 42, 90)
NEWCASTLE   (0)   3   (Gillespie 71, Asprilla 87, Barton 88)

LIVERPOOL: James; McAteer, Wright, Kvarme, Matteo, Bjornebye; McManaman, Redknapp, Berger, Barnes; Fowler

NEWCASTLE: Hislop; Watson, Peacock, Albert, Elliott; Gillespie, Batty, Clark (Ginola), Barton; Beardsley (Ferdinand)(Crawford), Asprilla

The year after ‘the greatest game’ people were still talking about it when the two met again at the same venue.  Liverpool were lying 3rd in the table, 4pts behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand.  They’d just lost 0-1 at Aston Villa, ending a run of 5 games without conceding a goal.

Newcastle were just behind Liverpool, but 5pts back and now managed by another former Liverpool favourite, Kenny Dalglish.  They were also coming off the back of a defeat, losing 0-1 at home to Southampton.  This ended a 7-match unbeaten run.

Lightening couldn’t strike twice, could it?

Liverpool were the more inventive from the start but had to wait until the 29th minute before they made the breakthrough.  Redknapp played a lovely ball to find McAteer attacking down the right.  He cut inside and played a ball along the 18-yard line where Fowler dummied it and McManaman, who was just behind him & unmarked, took one touch and fired the ball past Hislop.  1-0.

With the crowd in full voice, Liverpool immediately built from the back and Matteo’s ball looked to have put Berger clear, only for the linesman to flag for offside.  Newcastle chose to take the free-kick quickly and as they tried to play their way out of trouble, McManaman dispossessed Batty and played Fowler in on the right.  His shot hit the post and came back invitingly for Berger to finish and two goals in the space of 60 seconds gave Liverpool a 2-0 lead.

As half-time approached, Newcastle were again guilty in possession and Redknapp played a beautiful ball from just inside his own half to put Fowler away and his first shot beat Hislop to give the home side a comfortable lead at the break.  3-0.

It was as perfect a half as you could wish for, for the home side.  The second period appeared to be a formality as Newcastle were happy to keep the arrears at their current level.  With 20 minutes to go Albert found Gillespie on the edge of the area and he jinked and twisted his way across the area, looking for space, before hitting a low shot which James should’ve saved, but strangely he let it bounce through his fingers and Newcastle had, what seemed at the time, a consolation goal.  3-1.

The game seemed to be meandering to a finish with Liverpool knocking the ball around comfortably in midfield before Redknapp gave the ball away to Ginola on the left.  Ginola, just inside his own half played a long ball beyond Mark Wright and Asprilla ran on and lobbed the ball over James to reduce the difference to one goal.  Unbelievably, Asprilla hadn’t scored in the league since the corresponding fixture last season but this one gave his side hope of grabbing a point.  3-2.

A long ball launched from the back by Albert was headed on by Barton in the area to Asprilla.  But before the Colombian could get a shot in, Kvarme attempted to wrestle it from him and as the defender fell over, Barton was free to miss-hit his shot enough to dribble over the line for a remarkable equaliser.  From a seemingly impregnable position, Liverpool had somehow conspired to give away a 3-0 lead and were now looking at dropping 2pts.  James was again at fault as he let the ball go between his legs as he came out without making much attempt to smother the ball.  3-3.

Where was this game going now?  The home fans stunned, the visiting fans also in disbelief.  As both teams struggled to come to terms with the last few minutes, Liverpool attacked down the left.  Matteo found Bjornebye and his left foot cross was headed home by Fowler, who was bravely determined to get to the ball first.  No one could believe it, a repeat of a famous scoreline and Liverpool again had won it in injury time.  4-3.

These two fixtures will live on in folklore although probably more on Merseyside than Tyneside.  Liverpool had moved to within 1pt of United at the top but were unable to capitalise ending the season in 4th.  They were one of three sides on 68pts with Newcastle leading the trio finishing in 2nd.

28th December 1998
LIVERPOOL   (0)   4   (Owen 67, 80, Riedle 71, 84)
NEWCASTLE   (1)   2   (Solano 29, Andersson 56)

LIVERPOOL: James; Heggem, Babb (McAteer), Staunton, Bjornebye; McManaman (Gerrard)(Thompson), Redknapp, Carragher, Berger; Riedle, Owen

NEWCASTLE: Given; Charvet, Hughes, Howey, Pearce; Glass (Georgiadis), Solano (Dabizas), Hamann, Speed; Shearer, Ferguson (Andersson)

Christmas time and another Liverpool v Newcastle clash.  Gerard Houllier had elbowed Roy Evans out of the club and was now in sole charge.  But his side was down in 9th having lost 7 times already, including two at home, one on my wedding day and the other a week later.  Ruud Gullit was the visting manager and his Newcastle side were doing even worse, down in 12th with just one win away from home all season.  They’d won just 2 of their last 8 going into this match, managing to score in only half of those games.  Liverpool’s previous 6 match sequence had been 2 wins, 2 defeats and then 2 wins as Houllier tried to come to terms with a side he clearly didn’t really want.

Newcastle played with two big strong centre-forwards, Alan Shearer and Duncan Ferguson and they were soon causing problems in the home defence as David James was forced to deny Ferguson early on.  Eventually the pressure told and Ferguson rose highest to head down for Solano to race in the score the opening goal after 29 minutes.  But no sooner had the visitors quietened the crowd than their hopes were dashed when future Liverpool star, Didi Hamann was sent-off for a second bookable offence when he tripped Berger.  Hamann’s first offence had seen him inflict an injury on McManaman leading to the England winger being replaced by a young Steven Gerrard in his debut season.

Ten minutes into the second half and a mix-up in the home defence as Phil Babb and Jamie Carragher went for the same ball, got entangled and Andersson was left to slot the ball home for a 2-0 lead to the visitors.  Gradually, though, Liverpool began to rescue control of the game and within 10 minutes they had pulled one back after another good save from Given was turned in by Owen.

Four minutes later and the home side were level when Karl-Heinz Riedle scored, although the visitors looked to have a claim for handling against the German.  With ten minutes to go The Kop was in full voice and baying for blood and again it was Owen who duly supplied.  His second of the game to go with the imperious hat-trick he had scored at St.James’s Park back in August.  Riedle then matched Owen’s total with six minutes to go and for the 3rd time in their last 4 visits to Anfield, Newcastle had conceded 4.

The game may not have had the drama of the previous two in this series but it was a crucial comeback giving them their first 3-game winning streak of the season.  Liverpool eventually finished 7th in the League with Newcastle down in 13th.

5th May 2001
LIVERPOOL   (1)   3   (Owen 25, 71, 82)
NEWCASTLE   (0)   0

LIVERPOOL: Westerveld; Babbel, Hyypia. Henchoz, Carragher; Smicer (Berger), Gerrard (Murphy), Hamann, McAllister; Heskey (Fowler), Owen

NEWCASTLE: Given; Barton, Dabizas, O’Brien, Quinn; Solano, Acuna (Bassedas), Hughes, Speed; Gallacher (Lua Lua), Cort (Ameobi)

It was difficult to choose between this game and a similar win a few years later, but in the end I plumped for this one based on the importance of the victory.  Liverpool, under Gerard Houllier were chasing a Champions League spot, with only the top three clubs qualifying.  Having won the League Cup against Birmingham in February, they had made it through to a further two finals with the FA Cup and UEFA Cup Finals to come.  They had just won 4 successive League matches and were in good form, but every point was vital with Leeds United breathing down their necks.  Leeds was the last team to beat them, when they won 2-1 at Anfield.

Newcastle were in somewhat of a rebuilding phase under Bobby Robson and were sitting in 10th place, 15pts behind Liverpool who were 3rd.

Michael Owen, often the scourge of Newcastle, was in superb form and almost opened the scoring early on.  Eventually, though, he would find the visiting centre-backs sleeping and after 25 minutes Babbel split the defence for Owen to run on and chip Shay Given.  It was a moment which annoyed the Toon boss who had drilled his defence in not allowing Owen space.

A goal up at the break, Liverpool deserved their lead and McAllister probably should’ve made it 2-0 just before the turnaround.  Newcastle pressed in the second half but with little substance.  Patrik Berger was introduced and in a move he would repeat in the FA Cup Final, he sent Owen away and the Liverpool striker made it 2-0.  Then as the game moved into the final ten minutes, another substitute, Robbie Fowler, provided the perfect pass for Owen to complete his hat-trick off the far post.  Owen had scored 12 goals in 6 games against Newcastle at that stage of his career.  With Leeds losing at Arsenal, Liverpool had opened up a crucial 3pt gap over them with just two games to go.  They held that position to qualify for Champions League football in a season where they lifted the League Cup, the FA Cup and UEFA Cup.  Newcastle finished in 11th.

HEAD TO HEAD at Anfield

Matches: 77
Liverpool win: 51
Newcastle win: 11
Draws: 15

Liverpool goals: 176
Newcastle goals: 78

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