Remembering Liverpool's Amazing 4-3 Win over Newcastle in April 1996

Jack Lusby@jacklusby_Featured ColumnistApril 22, 2016

3 Apr 1996:  Stan Collymore of Liverpool scores a dramatic last minute winning goal during the FA Carling Premiership match between Liverpool and Newcastle United played at Anfield, in Liverpool, England. Liverpool won the match 4-3. \ Mandatory Credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Liverpool welcome Newcastle United to Anfield on Saturday afternoon, 20 years on from one of the Premier League's most entertaining clashes: a remarkable 4-3 win for the Reds back in April 1996.

As Rafa Benitez's Magpies take to Merseyside this weekend, the Spaniard will no doubt be hammering into his side the importance of fighting spirit; drawing from his time in charge of the Reds—not only from their UEFA Champions League triumph in Istanbul in 2005, but also 1996's comeback win at home to Newcastle.

A result etched into the history of both Liverpool Football Club and the Premier League, as an enduring advertisement of the English top flight's entertainment value, that Anfield triumph will serve as inspiration for both Benitez and his counterpart, Jurgen Klopp.

For two sides at opposite ends of the Premier League table, this could prove pivotal on Saturday at Anfield.

03 Apr 1996:  Faustino Asprilla of Newcastle scores the third goal past Liverpool goalkeeper David James during their FA Premiership game at Anfield,on April 3, 1996 in Liverpool, England. Mandatory Credit: Stu Forster/Allsport
Getty Images/Getty Images

Both sides headed into that clash with ambitions of securing the 1995/96 Premier League title, with Newcastle three points behind leaders Manchester United with two games in hand, and Liverpool eight points from the top spot with a one-game advantage.

The Magpies manager was Kevin Keegan—a Liverpool legend, having won three First Division titles, one European Cup and two UEFA Cups with the club over a six-year period with the Reds in the 1970s—while Boot Room alumnus Roy Evans took his place in the home dugout.

03 Apr 1996:  Les Ferdinand of Newcastle celebrates after scoring the equaliser against Liverpool during their FA Premiership game at Anfield in Liverpool, England. Mandatory Credit: Ross Kinnaird/Allsport
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Setting his side up in a positive 4-4-2, Keegan named former Liverpool midfielder Peter Beardsley alongside French dynamo David Ginola and centre-forward pairing Faustino Asprilla and Les Ferdinand.

The audacious Evans, meanwhile, opted for an attack-heavy system, with the magisterial Steve McManaman driving the attack behind Stan Collymore and Robbie Fowler, while a three-man defensive line of Mark Wright, John Scales and Neil Ruddock shielded young goalkeeper David James.

Fowler struck first, sending the ball past a sprawling Pavel Srnicek after just two minutes, before Ferdinand and Ginola hit back before the 15-minute mark.

3 Apr 1996:  Stan Collymore of Liverpool battles for the ball with Les Ferdinand of Newcastle United during their FA Premiership game at Anfield, Liverpool. Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK/Allsport
Getty Images/Getty Images

McManaman set Fowler through for his second goal of the night after half-time, driving at the Newcastle defence before laying the ball into the striker's path, showcasing their well-oiled attacking partnership.

Asprilla and Collymore were next on the scoresheet, sending the clash into stoppage time at 3-3, with Liverpool and Newcastle poised to share the spoils.

But with minutes to spare, John Barnes exchanged passes with substitute Ian Rush. The ball fell to the former Watford playmaker in the penalty area, and he played a pass through to the onrushing Collymore, who, having been shifted to the wing to accommodate Rush, charged into the box and powered past Srnicek.

Anfield erupted, and Keegan was left despondent—Collymore charged along the touchline, triumphant. 

8 Apr 1996:  Terry McDermott and Kevin Keegan of Newcastle are a picture of despair after Blackburn's winning goal during the Blackburn v Newcastle Premier League Match played at Ewood Park in Blackburn. Mandatory Credit: Stu Forster/ALLSPORT
Getty Images/Getty Images

Named the Premier League's Match of the Decade in 2003, it stands as one of the most entertaining encounters in the league's history, and one that Ginola described as "the turning point" in Newcastle's downfall, as relayed by Sky Sports' Nick Wright at the beginning of April.

Sir Alex Ferguson's United went on to win the 1995/96 title, with Newcastle falling short by four points and Liverpool finishing third, as United's dominance continued.

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 10:  Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool gives a thumbs up during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield on April 10, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Image
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

As Klopp prepares his side for Saturday's showdown with the Magpies, he can call upon this triumphant result as inspiration: Barnes was at his best navigating an intensive midfield landscape, and McManaman was in emphatic form linking play behind Liverpool's strikers as Fowler and Collymore combined to great effect.

With the Reds in great form at present, with four wins from their last four outings—including another sensational 4-3 Anfield victory, over Klopp's former side Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Europa League—they will be looking to make another big step as the German seeks to lift them to a title-challenging level.

In the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool have the quality to replicate the barnstorming performance of '96, while Klopp's battle to restore a fighting spirit has given the Reds a similar resolve.

Newcastle United's Spanish manager Rafa Benitez gestures during the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Newcastle at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England on April 9, 2016. / AFP / GLYN KIRK / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL
GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

For Benitez, however, the challenge is more significant: Newcastle sit 19th in the Premier League table, in a three-way battle with Norwich City and rivals Sunderland to avoid relegation to the Championship in May.

It is a far cry from the Magpies' lofty position back in 1996 and Benitez's experience of challenging at the top with Liverpool between 2004 and 2010.

But speaking after Newcastle's 1-1 draw with Manchester City last weekend, as reported by BBC Sport, the 56-year-old said he was confident his side could secure a famous victory over his former club:

My connection with Liverpool is obvious, it's quite good, but hopefully they will do really well in the Europa League and we can get three points in the Premier League.

At the moment, it's true that we are doing well, so hopefully the game away against a very good team like Liverpool, we can see the same things. But you never know.

What we have is belief. We believe now that we can fight, we can beat anyone and in the next games, we have to show that.

Without the momentum of Keegan's side back in 1996, Benitez must draw on his experience, and a growing belief within a Newcastle squad peppered with talent in the likes of Moussa Sissoko and Aleksandar Mitrovic, to take the three points from Anfield.

Twenty years ago, Liverpool came out unlikely victors; now, looking to fight off relegation and lead Newcastle back to the big time, Benitez will hope to turn the tables on his former side.


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