A game for the ages as the legend of Liverpool is overturned during a “nervous” evening at Anfield

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It was a game for the ages and one that is part of the history of the club and the Premier League, where a return of legends from Liverpool to Anfield ended with him sprawled on billboards.

Iconic is the word and breathtaking was the overwhelming feeling.

When Newcastle and Liverpool struck on April 3, 1996 at Anfield, the visitors were three points behind leader Man United with two games in hand, while the Reds were eight behind after playing one game less.

The stakes were high and the desperation to stay within striking distance of denying United its third championship title in four seasons was simmering under the surface before kick-off.

This ensured that the perfect storm was brewing and that it didn’t take long to descend on Anfield, 97 seconds in fact.

Liverpool, England - Wednesday November 27, 1996: Robbie Fowler of Liverpool in action during the 4-2 victory over Arsenal in the 4th round of the League Cup at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe / Propaganda)

Robbie Fowler, in his third season as a regular first team player, was the man to hit, directing his head past Paul Srnicek to burn down Anfield.

But within 15 minutes, the tables had turned as Newcastle broke through Liverpool’s defense twice in four minutes to see the scoreboard read 2-1 in favor of the Magpies.

The Ferdinands and David Ginola were responsible, with the defense of the Reds withered as individual missteps would give Newcastle momentum.

The tempo remained relentless and few people would have predicted the twists and turns that would occur in the second half.

After a brilliant start after the interval, Steve McManaman, who had himself been denied twice, passed the ball across the 18 yard line to Fowler who riffled the equalizer without a second of hesitation.

A chance to catch his breath never came because only two minutes later, the visitors resumed their lead after David James was swept into the atmosphere as he loaded his line to turn half a chance into a clear road to Faustino Asprilla’s goal.

He was 3-2 at Newcastle with 58 minutes on the clock and as the Mirror reported, “scoring three in Anfield’s fortress should be enough to win any game”, but it wasn’t. .

Within 10 minutes, Liverpool had established a level playing field again after Jason McAteer delivered a lavish ball to the goal line, with Stan Collymore the man to the back post.

The Reds were on their feet and the traveling Newcastle fans had their heads in their hands, the momentum was in favor of Liverpool, but the ping-pong nature of the clash made no team feel safe and that neither of the two teams could be denied the winner.

But as the minutes neared the full-time whistle, the affair seemed destined to end with a share of the loot.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday January 6, 1996: Liverpool's Stan Collymore celebrates scoring the third of his hat-trick with teammate Ian Rush against Rochdale in the FA Cup 3rd round match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe / Propaganda)

It was until Collymore was found in acres of space in the penalty area, providing enough time to step up and thunder his effort beyond an unfortunate Srnicek – raising Anfield’s roof in the process.

As Collymore left in unrestrained joy, Kevin Keegan was sprawled in his seat as he watched his team fall to defeat, and it would prove to be a defining and iconic image.

“I get goosebumps every time I hear it because it was such a special moment,” said Martin Tyler of Sky Sports.

“Poor Kevin Keegan, sprawled on the billboards at the end, is one of the iconic shots of the game, perhaps the iconic shot. What makes us so addicted to football is drugs.

“I think if you take all of the elements of why we all love football, they all happened in this particular game. “

Neither team would win the Premier League title that year, but there’s no question that “it was the most compelling advertisement for the English game, which we will be talking about for years. The kind of nervous football that puts you on your feet, “said one reporter eloquently.

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