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Five classic games between Liverpool and Newcastle

There may be a sizeable chasm between the two sides based on their current Premier League pedigree, but that is not to diminish the historical match-ups between Newcastle United and Liverpool, that have, on occasions, mutated from high pressure games into genuine dramatic narratives.

 

Here, we look at five classic games between the two sides, ahead of this weekend’s game on Saturday lunchtime.

Liverpool 4 – 3 Newcastle, April 1996

It’s the obvious choice to start with, but there is a reason for that. Kevin Keegan’s side had dramatically let a firm grip on the title race slip. Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side had reversed the position of dominance, and Newcastle were in need of a win at Anfield.

The 12-point lead Kevin Keegan’s side had was assailable after all, and this game was about reigniting a title challenge.

The tempo was set from the beginning. A very early goal after two minutes from Robbie Fowler was cancelled out less than 10 minutes later by Les Ferdinand, before another quickly followed after a fine finish from David Ginola.

Fowler then equalised to level the scores once more before Faustino Asprilla put the visitors ahead again.

Asprilla, ironically, had had a part to play in Newcastle’s league slump. Despite his quality, his arrival two months previously in February had forced Keegan to change the team’s tactical approach, in turn breaking their momentum.

Momentum in this game swung Liverpool’s way when Stan Collymore equalised again. Then, came a sucker-punch to Newcastle’s title challenge. John Barnes and Ian Rush were involved in some intricate build-up play before Barnes saw Collymore advancing into space.

The pass was perfect and the finish emphatic.

Kevin Keegan, one hand on the advertising hoarding, had his head bowed. He knew this could be the end of their title chances. Ultimately, he was right.

Liverpool 4 – 3 Newcastle, March 1997

In its own right, another classic. It could never quite match the intensity of the previous season’s encounter, but it didn’t make too bad a stab at replicating it.

Keegan was gone and in his place was another Liverpool legend in Kenny Dalglish.

Goals from Steve McManaman, Fowler and Patrik Berger had put Liverpool into an untouchable lead. Well, so it seemed.

Keith Gillespie’s goal on 70 minutes seemed little more than a consolation, but Asprilla then injected more optimism into chances of a comeback. Full-back Warren Barton then popped up to be the unlikely hero with an 88th minute goal to level matters.

But Barton’s hero status diminished, when Fowler headed home a late winner and ensured another defeat that was hard to stomach for Newcastle’s travelling army.

Newcastle 3 – 0 Liverpool, November 1993

Having gained promotion and a return to top-flight football, Newcastle, under Keegan, showed genuine title credentials in the 1992/93 season.

A lot of that was down to Andy Cole, whose phenomenal season had seen the forward score 41 goals in all competitions and rightly secure the PFA Young Player of the Year award.

This game was a thorough indication as to just how effective Keegan’s side were and a blistering 30 minutes at St James’ Park saw Cole secure a hat-trick.

The gulf in class in the match was reflected in how the two sides ended the season. Liverpool finished the season in a distant eighth and were 17 points adrift of Newcastle, whose fine first season in the Premier League had ended in a third-place finish.

Even before this game the cracks were showing in Liverpool’s resistance; they had lost all four of their league games in September. So this result was less a surprise and more an endorsement as to the trajectory the respective clubs were following at the time.

Newcastle 1 – 4 Liverpool, August 1998

This game garnered another hat-trick, this time it was teenager Michael Owen, fresh from his exploits at that summer’s World Cup in France, where he captured the imagination of the English faithful with some sublime performances, including that wonder goal in a second-road game in St Etienne.

And just as the Argentinians struggled to cope with Owen’s movement and pace, Ruud Gullit’s arrival as Newcastle manager was not enough to inspire his side into action, despite a goal from Stephane Guivarc’h.

Guivarc’h had joined the club following his part in France’s World Cup success on home turf and despite not finding the back of the net in that tournament, he did in this game. It was though, against the run of play, and in the 32nd minute Owen completed his hat-trick.

Patrick Berger finished off the scoring and by half-time, at 4-1, the game was over as a contest, despite further endeavours from Guivarc’h and Alan Shearer.

As a performance though, it was a lesson in style, pace and fluidity. And an opportunity for Owen to continue to capture the imagination.

Newcastle 2-3 Liverpool, May 2019

Liverpool were chasing an elusive Premier League title during the 2018/19 campaign, embroiled int the tightest of title races with Manchester City.

In the penultimate game of the game Newcastle did their best to throw a spanner in the works, twice coming from behind to level in a game that saw the momentum continually swing.

Goals from Christian Atsu and Salomon Rondon cancelled out efforts from Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah for the visitors and as the clock ticked towards full-time it looked as if former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was set to wreck his old team’s chances.

Enter, Divock Origi.

The Belgian has forged a reputation for influencing games off the bench and with four minutes remaining glanced home Xherdan Shaiqiri’s free-kick to spark wild celebrations at St James’ Park.

It wasn’t ultimately enough for the title, but it kept Liverpool’s dream alive until the final day.

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