Liverpool vs. Newcastle: Remembering Collymore, Fowler, Keegan and the 4-3 Win

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Liverpool vs. Newcastle: Remembering Collymore, Fowler, Keegan and the 4-3 Win
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"To be fair, it was kamikaze defending. Managers would be dead within six months if every game was like that,"—no, that isn't a description of Liverpool's defending, or lack of it, in the final 15 minutes of the draw with Crystal Palace on Monday night but then-manager Roy Evans' reaction after the dramatic 4-3 thriller over Newcastle United back in 1996. 

Such has been Liverpool's style of play this season—absolutely scintillating in attack, but often woeful at the back—that comparisons have been drawn between this current Liverpool side and Kevin Keegan's title challengers 18 years ago.

That Liverpool have, if you believe the media rhetoric and the views of any rival club, effectively blown the title in throwing away a three-goal lead, only adds more value to that belief.

In 1995/96 Newcastle ended the season in second, four points behind Manchester United. Liverpool look likely to finish this campaign in second behind Manchester City.

In all honesty though, that's where the comparisons should end—Rodgers' side have scored 33 goals more than Keegan's, although they have conceded 12 more too. Nonetheless, Rodgers' side are far better quality than Keegan's was and have obliterated the sides around them several times this season.

 

The 4-3 Thriller

Ironically, it was Liverpool who went into that game in 1996 as the team who had scored the most goals in the league but also conceded the fewest at the time. How they wish for such a defensive record now.

Keegan's side, meanwhile, had let their previous 12-point lead slip away and were feeling the pressure.

It was Robbie Fowler, the winner the PFA Young Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season, who opened the scoring after just two minutes.

Fowler's goal was cancelled out by Les Ferdinand though within eight minutes. 1-1 with 10 minutes played was a sign of what was to follow.

David Ginola gave the visitors the lead four minutes later, and Newcastle were the side in the ascendancy. They remained 2-1 ahead at the interval.

Fowler showed his prodigious talent to equalise on 55 minutes, only for Colombian forward Faustino Asprilla to restore the visitors' advantage within two minutes of that.

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3-2, a scoreline which Ginola later said had it remained that way, he believed they would have gone on to win the league.

Alas though, Stan Collymore arrived to equalise 10 minutes later and then hit the winner in stoppage time, which produced the famous commentary of "Rush, Barnes, Rush, Barnes...Collymooorrreeee."

The Kop went wild, while Keegan slumped on the advertising boards inside the Anfield dugout. A ground which had given him so many memories as a player had now produced the most enduring of his managerial career—for differing reasons.

 

Aftermath

Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

If the match itself wasn't memorable enough, Keegan's passionate post-match interview added further to the story of the night. The Newcastle boss delivered the memorable line: "I tell yer, I'll love it if we beat them, love it"—referring to Man United, as per The Independent.

At least Keegan could console himself with a message of support from FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who wrote to him to praise the positive attitude that he brings to the game, as per The Premier League.

 

Best Ever 

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The match was voted "Match of the Decade" as the Premier League celebrated its 10th anniversary, and it took top spot again when Sky Sports celebrated 20 years of their coverage of the Premier League.

More recently, it came second in the Premier League's 20 Seasons Awards, perhaps showing merely that memories fade and voters become younger with every passing decade. 

 

Repeat

Incredibly, the same scoreline was repeated the following season. That time Liverpool took the lead on four separate occasions, with Fowler nodding home the winner in stoppage time.

The original match in 1996 is still regarded as one of the most entertaining and memorable games the Premier League has ever witnessed. Liverpool seem to have a habit of producing such outcomes, with the miracle of Istanbul in 2005 and the 5-4 UEFA Cup Final against Alaves in 2001 being two of the most entertaining European finals.

Who knows, Sunday's match could yet go on to live long in the memory and write its place in Premier League history—should West Ham do Liverpool a massive favour over at Man City.

 

Liverpool: James; Wright (Harkness 45), Scales, Ruddock; McAteer, Redknapp, Barnes, McManaman, Jones (Rush 85); Fowler, Collymore.

Newcastle: Srnicek; Watson, Howey (Peacock 82), Albert, Beresford; Beardsley, Batty, Lee, Ginola; Ferdinand, Asprilla.

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